Opinion: NIL is the way to go

High school athletes can now monetize their name, image, and likeness.

Manas Kathir, Sports Editor

The idea of paying student-athletes to appear in promotions has been a debate for a long time, but there is officially a term for it all. NIL, short for name, image, and likeness, has quickly become a well-known policy that allows student-athletes to receive compensation as soon as high school. 

On July 1st, 2021, the NCAA approved of a nationwide policy that allows college athletes to be receive NIL deals regardless of state laws. For high school athletes, the rule is that they are allowed to be compensated for their NIL as long as their high school logo, uniforms, and more are not recognized in the promotion. 

Now, is the idea of high school athletes getting paid the best thing for sports going forward?

Most would say so. However, think about the big picture and you will realize that there are two sides to the story. On one hand, it will teach athletes how to handle large amounts of money at a young age and teach them about what happens outside of simply being an athlete. Brand sponsorships, advertisements, and promotions are all important when it comes to being an athlete as it can become a side business after retirement. 

On the other hand, it is important to make sure that athletes choose athletics as a career because they love the sport — not what comes with playing the sport. Gaining money at a young age may damage the thought process of the athlete, as their mind will shift from becoming a better athlete every day to engaging in the money that they can make by being an athlete.

But can’t they do both? Of course. That is what the hope is for every athlete that is in NIL discussions. Deals are offered because of their tremendous play in whatever sport they are involved in, and the hope is that such a deal helps both the brand and athlete. 

The main point to stress is that the NIL laws and policies used to only deal with college athletes, but it is slowly centering around younger athletes and the younger generation. In my opinion, this is a great thing for student-athletes for so many reasons. As a fellow athlete myself, I have conversed with many other athletes at North Allegheny about NIL deals, and many of them are currently in discussions that involve money. 

Most readers will assume that all the athlete has to do is have a big name and then they’ll be given their money. However, that is not the case. The athlete needs to have a robust social media platform that is worthy of being sponsored by a brand and work to make sure they keep their audiences engaged in their career as an athlete. If viewers lose interest, deals and money could potentially be taken away.

In other words, it’s a business. Done right, it will prepare standout young athletes for the careers they aspire to.