On July 1, 2021, the landscape of college athletics changed forever when the NCAA allowed college athletes to use their names, image, and likeness(NIL) to make money. Through NIL deals with companies, many positives have come out of it. For example, only 2% of college athletes make it into the pros, which leaves 98% of student-athletes having to find a job after college which in most cases pays significantly less than what a pro athlete would make. If you are one of the athletes that are skilled or lucky enough to have the opportunity to play in the pros the average career length is around 4-6 years and that’s if you do not get injured. This means by the time an athlete is around 28-30 years old they are going to have to start looking for a new career path. However, thanks to NIL deals athletes can start making money now while they’re in college so that way even if they do not make the pros they will still be set up for success once they graduate college. NIL deals can vary, the starting quarterback at the University of Alabama Bryce Young took full advantage of his NIL and Young now has a total valuation of $3.2 million. Money that he never would have seen given he was in college 4 years ago. However, there are downsides to NIL deals too.
Not every athlete was created equal, so how does this playoff in the locker room when one guy is making millions while another might be getting the bare minimum or nothing at all? When asked in an interview in 2021 about NIL deals Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney had this to say. “I’ve never had a problem with name, image, and likeness. I think it should have been more. If I’d have been the czar, I’d have done it differently, because I don’t think everybody’s gonna have much opportunity with it. Some will. But not everybody will have an opportunity.” Being a college athlete myself at a division 3 college it would be impossible for me to get a deal like Young of the Alabama Crimson Tide. The best I could hope for would be to maybe get a local business to sponsor me and maybe get a free T-shirt or something like that. But do I think it is unfair? No, because that is still an opportunity that I would not have been able to explore without the birth of NIL deals.
The birth of NIL deals is a huge deal for all college athletes it has given them an opportunity to not just make money but to also learn how to use money and save money. For athletes that are getting ready for the pros, this is a great way for them to learn how to use their money responsibly by getting it at a younger age. For those that do not go pro, it validates the hard work that they have put in by at least having the opportunity to make a profit off themselves. Overall NIL deals have come and changed college athletics for the better. NIL deals have given people opportunities that they might have never dreamed of before and have also changed lives, so as of right now there are more positives than negatives coming from these deals, and are giving athletes not only the opportunity to make a profit but to also learn how to use their own name, image, and likeness for the betterment of themselves.