were they being negative?
Oh, absolutely not! We were interviewing junior beekeeping scholarship applicants, and one of the more senior beekeepers on the scholarship committee was introducing us to the kids. The two senior members referred to themselves as hobbyists, I was introduced as a sideliner.
I'd just never heard the term before but didn't think asking during the interview would look very good to the kids or their families, then I forgot to ask later. The explanation given by Hemlock and Idaxon works for me, it's pretty much what I am!
And, sorry Ray, I don't find the term offensive at all! It just means I'm on the field, but not...quite...in the big game. It's a great view, though!