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NFL Draft

NIL A Sign Of Significant Progress

  • The Draft Network
  • July 2, 2021
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It was long overdue, but the NCAA finally approved players profiting off of their name, image, and likeness (NIL) on Wednesday, signifying a major and much-needed change to the American collegiate sports system.

For years, athletes have been suspended, expelled, and punished for simply trying to make money off of their person, something that every other non-athlete student could do without any sort of repercussions.

“Joe Smith” from engineering was able to make bank off of a viral YouTube video. Trevor Lawrence wasn’t. “Craig Johnson” from the music faculty could sign an autograph on the street after his song just went to the top of the charts on Spotify, but not Todd Gurley. Even “Bob Robertson” from the business faculty could start his own company while he was in school. If Johnny Manziel did that? He’s kicked out instantly.

This sort of gross double-standard was seemingly put up with for years, as colleges exploited free labor while simultaneously signing brand deals and adding sponsors for their gain in the process. After all, the same athletic departments pushing against NIL were the same ones running halftime shows brought to you by Dr. Pepper during every home game.

Well, not anymore.

Players finally have some sort of semblance of power, which is only fair given the millions and millions coaches and administrators have made off of their backs throughout the years. Sure, athletes have gotten free boarding, scholarships, and food, but in the process, they were also stripped from some basic human rights that every individual should have. And yes, certain schools now might have a recruiting advantage given marketing opportunities, but hasn’t Alabama taken every single 5-star recruit for a decade now? The balance of power in college football and college sports as a whole has always been lopsided, and this won’t change that. If anything, there might actually be more parity when it comes to the financial opportunities players could receive.

Would you rather be fighting for a brand deal as Alabama’s third quarterback or get every single car commercial as the starting running back at a D-III school? These are choices athletes will have to weigh and it’s something that will no doubt have a positive effect on competition and parity in the NCAA.

Look, there’s still a long way to go when it comes to the economics of college sports. Profiting off of image and likeness is a great and long overdue start, but one could argue that giving these players and athletes legitimate salaries is also something that needs to be addressed.

For right now, however, let's take the time and appreciate how huge of a win this is. This a win for all top-tier college players who have come from rough financial situations. It’s a win for the Terrelle Pryors, who were suspended even once they went PROFESSIONAL just for signing some autographs and selling a few shirts. This is for dual-threat college quarterbacks like Collin Klein or Jordan Lynch that weren't allowed to market themselves during their exciting Heisman runs—the one chance they had to make a salary off of a sport they had spent decades playing. It’s for the D-III lineman who can now run a commercial for Tony’s Pizza and pocket a bit of extra cash for his sick mom. And it’s for every student-athlete who has been limited and oppressed by a collegiate system that only cared about the bottom line.

We still have a long way to go, but this is a great start. So let’s celebrate it.

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