NIL absolutes are elusive, but time will show the benefits

By Danita Harris

On the heels of the first NIL Virtual Conference hosted by GUICE Wealth Management, it seems as though the NIL Era has proven one thing — it remains elusive.

How to cash in? Who will allow me to cash in? How do I begin monetizing and economizing my NIL? These were the best and most frequent questions we received from the nearly 8,000 engaging participants. Obviously, deals and endorsements will be made, but will that bring frustration and division? Where there have been assumptions by coaches and “the adults” within the system hoping to shield players from potential division, there have been no reported incidents, other than the original complaint of the improper use of NIL which now entitles all — not just the adults — to use NIL for monetary gain. Is this an example of intentional implementation of fear tactics in an effort to control a population? 

If the fear, from the top down, is the money that once went to the top will be rerouted to the bottom — the players — then it seems like the fear of those being paid for their efforts stand the most to gain. It only seems right. These young athletes are placing their talents on full display in an effort to make it to the next level, that would prove to bring financial flow. Doesn’t it seem like the best thing for their talents’ harvest to come now than later? Especially with the potential of complete financial loss if they become injured? 

As far as competitive play, let’s face it, regardless of the trash talk, most real athletes know when they’re outplayed versus someone who is better at placing themselves in the right place and time to capitalize on their seemingly mediocre talents comparatively. So when it comes to division, aren’t we allowing collegiate players to participate in what already exists on the professional level? I think about how the current school system wants to award everyone a participation award for, well, participation. The fact remains that we exist in survival of the fittest — not who played best with others — type of world. Survival of the fittest agrees with the other notion of dog-eat-dog world, where not the best, but wittiest survive. Think of how many jobs you’ve held where you scratch your head in amazement that the manager IS the manager. No! He’s not necessarily smarter, or harder working — he’s more strategic. We should really stop acting like the system of play for pay hasn’t been around for as long as competition has existed. Not condoning the actions of boosters paying for players, but this is NOT a NIL era problem, this is a division problem. Current players (the current systems being paid) + one more (the student athlete) = less profitable for other players. Allegedly. Speculatively.

Is it though? Is that the real math? As I see it, yes, now players will benefit from a percentage break away from merchandise sales. It places the athlete in another realm of tapping into potential profits that schools were not necessarily capitalizing on: influencing, watch parties, and sports camps to name a few. Those were profits left of the table athletes are now able to economize. Mere peanuts for some, and giant mounds of untapped profits for others. Ultimately, there is a place for everyone. Not just the fastest, the best, the most attractive nor the most popular. Everyone. Whole teams are now able to partake in an effort toward building something great cohesively and individually. Society shows us there is usually only one star, but that doesn’t mean the background singers don’t eat. When a major sports endorsement hits the locker room, they don’t leave the practice squad out; and everyone in the organization, including front office staff, receives a ring. 

NIL will prove to be the greatest legislature written for the student athletes. As time will allow, more will unfold, and initial presumptions will fade as the yearly data will prove the overall improvement on the quality of the athlete that puts their talent on the line every time they play, that will affect them well beyond their amateur years. It will prove to carry most well beyond the free college education. It will help shape the future of millions into something that has a positive impact in society as a whole and in the world of sports.

Danita Harris (@danitamharris) is managing partner and CEO of GUICE Wealth Management, a boutique firm catering to the sports and entertainment industry. She is the author of "9 Secrets to Make Money in the NIL Era" and "50 NIL Money Makers."