On August 31, 2021, California passed a bill allowing high school athletes to make money off their name, image, and likeness (NIL). NIL will enable athletes to receive financial compensation. It refers to using an athlete’s name, image, and likeness through marketing and promotional endeavors.
California was the first state that allowed high school students to monetize their name, image, and likeness. Now 25 other states followed in California’s path.
In California, high school athletes can agree to commercial endorsements as long as the endorsement isn’t affiliated with the athlete’s school or team.
“It’s the new frontier to push the boundaries of amateurism,” Nevada Union athletic director Dan Crossen said. “I believe it opens up some interesting opportunities for student-athletes. However, it’s some tricky terrain for kids and families to navigate. It is important that athletes and families understand the NIL rule. Not doing so could possibly impact their school, teams, and personal future.”
College athletes were able to get NIL deals starting in July 2021. With college sports being more high profile than high school sports it could be assumed that collegiate athletes would make more from NIL.
Three high school seniors hold the top three NIL deals, and two are from California.
Bronny James, the son of NBA star LeBron James is a senior at Sierra Canyon High School in Chatsworth, California. James has 12 million followers on social media and is making $7.5 million in NIL. The younger James has deals with Nike, Beats by Dre and will have his own underwear line with PSD Underwear.
Mikey Williams, the 24th high school basketball prospect from San Diego, California, has six million followers on social media and gets $3.6 million in NIL. Williams is committed to Memphis to play college basketball next year. Williams is the first high schooler in the US to sign a multi-year sneaker deal with Puma and has endorsement agreements with Cash App, LaceClips, and others.
NIL deals for high school athletes could help families that struggle financially and help athletes with extra finances heading into college. It also could help young high school athletes to learn how to handle their money.
There could be many issues; athletes getting NILs will have added pressure to perform at a high level. The added stress of giving NIL to high school athletes, who are already dealing with the challenges of growing up and navigating the college recruitment process, could be a disaster.
Allowing high school athletes to profit off their name, image, and likeness could shift the focus away from educational experiences and towards pursuing financial gain. This could reduce the overall quality of high school athletics and diminish the emphasis on education.
Then there is the corruption side of things. Agents and boosters would have even more incentive to get their hands on the top high school prospects. This could lead to young athletes being approached by individuals offering them money and other benefits in exchange for their commitment to a particular school.
There are more cons than pros in NIL deals for high school athletes, but if handled correctly, it could be great for the athletes. It will be up to all parties to follow the rules.
To contact Sports Reporter LaMarr Fields email email@example.com.