High school athletes exploring lucrative promotional deals with companies

NIL, short for “Name, Image, and Likeness,” refers to a shift in college and high school athletics where student-athletes are now allowed to profit from their own name, image, and likeness. Prior to NIL, NCAA regulations prohibited athletes from monetizing their personal brand, despite their widespread popularity, which would prevent them from making extra income. However, with the introduction of NIL rules, student-athletes can now enter into endorsement deals, sell autographs, promote products on social media and engage in various other commercial opportunities without jeopardizing their eligibility. 

This development marks a significant change in the landscape of collegiate and even high school sports, empowering athletes to create their personal brands and have financial potential while they pursue their education and athletic careers.

A lot of people are signing with big name companies. Most of them are in track and field, basketball and football. On the track and field side, more than 10 athletes have signed with a big name company in the past year, including sophomore Quincy Wilson. Wilson runs track and field in the state of Maryland. He won multiple national titles, and the sophomore is one of four athletes who signed recently with New Balance. 

“It is an amazing opportunity that opens a lot of doors for me. It allows us to make money, while doing what we love. I am super honored and excited to represent New Balance, as I keep trying to progress.” Wilson said. “I am also  super thankful for everything they do. New Balance provided me with a lot of gear and valuable resources, which helps a lot with my running, and hopefully my career.”

On average, most high school NIL students are making roughly $10,000 per year, along with free schooling. This is not always the case, however, and some athletes have been utilizing NIL to make upward, or over, $1 million a year. 

Bronny James is one of the highest paid NIL athletes, while in high school. His social media influence and incredible skills have led him to a $7.6 million evaluation. James is still in high school, but making more than $1 million a year. 

Sheduer Sanders out of Colorado is also one of the highest paid athletes, making $1.6 million a year. While playing football at the University of Colorado, he has created a social media uproar, increasing his value. 

Out of the graduating class of ’23, Dowling Catholic senior Jackson Heidesch was the first high school athlete to break 4 minutes in the mile in the state of Iowa. He proceeded to commit to the University of Duke; however, he did not sign an NIL deal. 

“The offers I received were not good enough to make the decision to accept. I chose to pass for now, and hopefully get my value up, and then sign while attending Duke. I didn’t want to make a commitment that I would regret in the next few years,” Heidesch said. “It also was not worth the little amount of money they had offered.”

Recently, the state of Iowa became the 15th state to allow high school athletes to obtain NIL deals. However,  not every state has allowed this yet. To obtain an NIL deal, athletes can create their own brands, with personal logos, or they can send an email to the company they are interested in, specifically the marketing division of the company. The companies can guide  athletes through the process, and if available, learn about the possible NIL deals they offer. 

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