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NIL Expansion for High School Athletes: Staff Opinion

Updated: Sep 26, 2023

Staff opinion on: Should NIL deals be expanded to high school athletes?


Fairness

by Nicholas Diaz


There is no denying that Florida is a sports powerhouse at the professional level. Florida teams succeed in basketball, football, hockey, soccer, baseball and more. Florida even excels at the collegiate level in various sports. At those levels, athletes have the opportunity to monetize their talents and skills due to name, image, and likeness (NIL) laws.


NIL laws allow athletes to receive financial compensation for the use of their brand in marketing and promotional endeavors. Until recently, college athletes were prohibited from monetizing their NIL. However, legislation in several states changed that. This enabled college athletes from across the country to monetize their social media accounts, autographs, images in advertisements, start their own businesses and more.


Florida was a pioneer of NIL, but it fell behind when other states enacted legislation with even fewer restrictions. These states became much more attractive to top athletes, which is why earlier this year Florida enacted the Intercollegiate Athlete Compensation and Rights Bill to reduce barriers to NIL benefits and maintain the state’s competitive edge.


Today, we are seeing the same problem at the high school level. NIL laws have trickled down to high school athletes in many states, and now Florida is faced with the choice of expanding NIL opportunities to high school athletes or competitively falling behind again.


The current stance of the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) is that a student forfeits amateur status. The Florida amateurism bylaws are strictly against NIL, yet in 31 states “it is confirmed that high school student-athletes under the corresponding association have the freedom to monetize their NIL,” according to Braly Keller of Opendorse.


Some Florida high schools are losing recruits due to the state's NIL stance. For example, Tampa Catholic lost five-star basketball recruit Kartner Knox who moved to Atlanta, Georgia in pursuit of professional NIL opportunities.


This migration of athletes from states that prohibit them from being compensated for their NIL is a serious problem for Florida. Athletes are moving out of the state and therefore will consider other states for their college careers. Florida must expand NIL opportunities if it seeks to maintain its competitive status as a sports powerhouse at the high school and collegiate levels.


There are other reasons why Florida should expand NIL as well. The mission of the FHSAA is to provide Florida youth with the best educational opportunities and build youth leadership. One of the best ways this can be accomplished is through the development of financial literacy and entrepreneurship skills for athletes through NIL.


Athletes could learn how to manage entrepreneurship and their brand early on, making them more equipped for the transition to college and later on professional sports. Many athletes will go into college with an already established brand, furthering their opportunities in college.


Another reason why Florida should expand its NIL opportunities is because of fair compensation. Organizations are profiting from the NIL of student-athletes who are not being compensated at all. Student-athletes deserve recognition and even compensation for the hard work and dedication they devote to their sport. The lack of compensation fairness in high school sports makes NIL laws a political issue, one that should be addressed by the Florida state government.


Both the FHSAA and the state government ought to enact policy to expand NIL laws to high school athletes. It is a matter of fairness, a matter of entrepreneurial education and a matter of competitive advantage.


NIL is the future of high school sports in Florida, and the fate of Florida collegiate athletics depends on it.


Not Yet

by Alejandro Fernandez


Getting paid for your face? That’s easy, why not?


NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) has increased in popularity as the NCAA allowed all college athletes to get paid starting in July 2022. NIL refers to an athlete’s right to publicity, which permits them to use anything about them through endorsements and sponsorships, according to Field Level. Although NIL is legal in NCAA, as of Sept. 6th, 2023, about 30 states including California and Texas have allowed NIL to be available for high schoolers, according to Business of College Sports.


Because NIL is up to the states, Florida has not ratified it, which has created a difference in opinion between athletes and administration.


Athletes have favored NIL as it has given them a platform to profit from their athletic ability. College Football Networks states that currently, the top 10 football NCAA NIL deals range from 1.2 million dollars (Quinn Ewers) to 2.9 million dollars (Arch Manning, who has yet to play a snap at the collegiate level).


With the monetary success of college athletes, Florida high school athletes want a piece of the success as well.


According to Columbus student athlete Benjamin Blackburn, who will be Division 1 athlete next year at Boston College, said, “High school athletes work hard and should put their talents to use by making money off of it.”


His opinion is in line with the collegiate athletes and his beliefs go in line with the 30 states that permit NIL for high school athletes.


Even though athletes want to increase their financial value, some states are uncertain due to the unexpected repercussions. NIL opportunities sound fantastic and are growing every day, but the effects for younger athletes are fairly unknown. The little intricacies and details would be very difficult to finalize if allowed to Florida student athletes.


Specifically, at Christopher Columbus High School, there has to be a different criteria for student athletes that must go with the Marist values, values held paramount at the school.


Principal of Christopher Columbus High School, Mr. Pugh, said, “NIL opportunities would change the landscape.”


If NIL was implemented in Florida, Mr. Pugh fears that the whole purpose behind high school sports would change. Instead of student athletes playing for school pride, student athletes will be more focused on off-the-field issues like sponsorships. This would change the motivation behind the students playing the sports for their school, and instead they would be playing for themselves. He believes that it will be interesting to see what happens in the future, but it is very difficult to foresee, which makes it difficult to permit.


Overall, I believe that Florida should not expand NIL opportunities yet to high school student athletes. Florida sports are very competitive and I feel the expansion of NIL will ruin the whole dynamic. As of right now Florida athletes play for their schools to win championships, however with money involved everything changes. With the addition of money, high school student athletes do not have the most financial knowledge, therefore, they can waste their money.


Maybe eventually but as of right now, I believe NIL in Florida should not expand to high school student athletes.


Too Risky

by Oscar Pinto


In July 2023, former Alabama QB and first overall NFL pick Bryce Young laid across his dorm bedroom when he received a phone call from his agent explaining how he landed Bryce a deal that would change his life. Bryce’s many sponsorships has made him a multimillionaire before he has ever played a down in the National Football League..


Young has been able to earn this through the relatively recent college athlete sponsorship and earnings program. This program is called the Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) deals. This allows college athletes to earn money through sponsorships, promotions, and social media promotions. Recently there has been consideration on expanding NIL deals to minors.There have been critics and supporters of this initiative. However, the NCAA would be remiss to expand NIL deals to minors because the monetary, legal, and mental costs would be too high.

A reason NIL deals shouldn't be dealt to minors is due to the fact that it is too risky. Adolescents make mistakes that could mess up not just their reputation but the high school’s reputation as well. It also has too much exposure for minors including lack of privacy.


Another reason NIL deals shouldn't be dealt too with adolescents is because of their mental health. Mental health plays a big role in today's society. With the pressure of their friends, families, the team's success and now brands, that is too much for an adolescent. Notably, at this age suicide deaths are one of the leading cause of deaths in teens following drugs and alcohol. On Sunday April 3 2023, track and field athlete Jayden Hill took her life unexpectedly because she lost her battle to mental health.


Athletes face immense mental pressure regularly. If you could think a college athlete would take his life imagine a high school athlete and a minor taking his own life because of mental health. It would be a much bigger deal than a normal adult taking his or her own life. The reputation of the school and the brand sponsoring the player would get demolished.


Overall, the NCAA would be taking a massive risk dealing with NIL deals too minors with all these possible outcomes and consequences that could come to reality. The fact that it would be too risky because adolescents are prone to mistakes and could mess up their reputation. Or just the fact that their mental health would be shattered with the pressure of their family, friends and now brands.


All in all NIL deals are a massive addition to collegiate sports and it is just too much for adolescents nowadays. Remember what you were like as a teenager. Would you like for your decisions to be scrutinized and broadcasted and remembered well past adolescence?


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