Nil
Photo Credit: NCAA

New FSM Feature: What Does NIL Mean For Players?

Franchise Sports Media

 

For decades the NCAA has benefited from their athletes’ name, image, and likeness (NIL). Some power has been given back to the players to create their own narrative.

 

NIL
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Growing up a huge fan of college football, I was no doubt constantly playing the NCAA Football video game series by EA Sports. I saw players like Jahvid Best, Cam Newton, Todd Gurley, and Johnny Manziel, to name a few, go through college and enter the NFL. If you’re a fan (I assume you wouldn’t be here if you weren’t), you know these are NCAA football legends. They were the best at their craft during their college playing days, with numerous awards split amongst them all. Naturally, people want to get behind this amazing ability to produce on the field. Unfortunately, they (financially) couldn’t. Legally.

A power struggle between NCAA players and NCAA authorities has finally come to an end. As of July 2021, the NCAA has allowed its athletes to be compensated for their NIL. Thus, athletes have been reigning in brand sponsorships left and right, and the NIL contracts these athletes are signing aren’t what you would think.

These deals are very lucrative, leaving many people wondering if this will have adverse effects moving forward. As a current student-athlete for the UNLV Football team, who has no NIL sponsorships, it would behoove me not to write about this.

 

Players are no longer just a number. They have worth now.

 

NIL
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Design: Alex Brooks

For many college athletes, playing your respected sport was a way to punch your ticket. Becoming a professional athlete is how you change your fortune. Many of us come from little or nothing. Violence and crime run rampant through poverty-stricken communities, making it hard to see past that. Sports is an athletes’ way of leaving all of that behind. Once you get a scholarship, almost everybody expects you to become a professional.

That isn’t always the case, as life can happen, and you come up short. Your mother’s lights are still off, your siblings are still starving, and you are not in the league. With the NCAA allowing players to be compensated for their NIL, you no longer have to play the waiting game.

This is wonderful for student-athletes. I have teammates now that have families going through extreme turmoil. They can’t provide yet on an annual stipend. With the ability to directly make money, it is possible now more than ever to support the ones you love.

There’s a great quote from the movie Spiderman where Peter Parker’s uncle Ben had told him shortly before his death: “With great power, comes great responsibility.” It is not every day that you have young adults, specifically those in college, walking around with commas in their bank accounts. When you’re that young, the world is your oyster. You are susceptible to many things, and overspending could be your downfall. If you make it to the professional level, that could be your downfall as well.

Growing up, I would always hear about the players who would go broke once their playing days were finished. This is partially because their spending habits were terrible when the checks kept rolling in. Due to NIL, financial literacy can now be taught before the jump to the next level. Players are now handling money that was once subjected to only the professionals. Limiting the percentage who go broke should be a focus right now.

 

We know not everything is peaches and cream. Here is what could go wrong.

 

NIL
Photo Credit: Beats By Dre/Caleb Williams

We’re all human, none of us are robots unless you’re LeBron James, but I digress. Jealousy and envy are natural feelings for anybody. You see your friend get a new Dodge Hellcat, and you begin to feel envious. They’re riding around looking cool. All eyes are on them, and you want the same thing. This could be a side effect of NIL deals in collegiate locker rooms.

Realistically every player won’t be able to score a $1.4-million-dollar deal like Quinn Ewers. Most players won’t be able to get a deal at all. This can create a divide amongst the teammates, which coaches don’t want. Teams will have to be player-led now because of how the cookie can crumble. In any sport, winning is all that matters. If teams keep that goal in mind, you may not have this issue in the NCAA.

Now that NIL has some momentum, players looking to call universities home will look at the possibility of getting a NIL deal in the market. Smaller schools will be at a disadvantage if they can’t provide what the player is looking for. At Power-5 schools, many student-athletes are securing NIL deals, like USC quarterback Caleb Williams. He landed Beats By DreFanatics Authentic, and a partnership with Beverly Hills-based real estate private equity fund Hawkins Way Capital to name a few.

This takes me back to my intro. Depending on the player and their circumstance, some will decide to take the money over other essentials. These essentials include locker room relationships, the given city, and the coach who has your best interest at heart.

 

How can UNLV athletes benefit from NIL?

 

NIL
Photo Credit: Travel Nevada

Las Vegas is the city of opportunity. You win big or go home empty-handed. For UNLV athletes, this is the opportunity to expand your brand. You are the brand. Acquiring NIL deals as a student-athlete in Las Vegas can be more beneficial than any other institution in the country. You can build endless connections. I have already made some here with Franchise Sports Media, and I’m just getting my feet wet.

Along with building connections with some of the world’s most influential people, financial responsibility is a trait that every young adult can stand to learn. What better place is there to learn that than in a city full of high rollers, where anything is accessible if you have money. Being able to master discipline with your funds will carry you into the next chapter of your life.

Las Vegas is home to thousands of restaurants, both sit-down and fast food. With this in mind, owners of these establishments can look to UNLV athletes for brand sponsorships. Do you know where you can find most of these restaurants? Let me tell you. Inside some of the best hotels, the globe has to offer. Exposure is the name of the game. Sponsoring UNLV athletes can only be helpful for all parties.

This is not the end all be all. Aside from hotels and restaurants, local gyms and car dealerships could look to sponsor UNLV athletes, as well. This would be a way to help make UNLV Athletics a powerhouse, increase enrollment, and build new, state-of-the-art academic buildings. It’s been proven time and time again all over the country; a successful athletic department at the state university will increase enrollment and bring more money and more business to Las Vegas. In the end, everybody wins.

 

College athletics is changing, and UNLV and the city of Las Vegas can be at the forefront of change. Let’s not miss the opportunity to put UNLV on top of the college athletics map.

 

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-Amani Trigg-Wright   Franchise Sports Media

Follow Amani on Twitter and Instagram: @AmaniTriggWrigh

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