If you’ve not heard, college sports underwent a significant transition in June of 2021 when they began allowing their student-athletes the ability to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Just like all change, this was met with its fair share of naysayers as well as staunch supporters.
Now that we are almost two full years in, we are seeing a significant change in college sports, specifically in College Basketball. College Basketball has become a two-month sport, as opposed to days when certain conferences felt “must-watch” on a weekly basis. The tournament has always and likely will always be the crown gem of American tournaments. But, with a weak regular season supporting it, it doesn’t draw the viewership that it could. This is where NIL comes in. Here are three reasons why NIL is saving College Basketball.
NIL is saving College Basketball
Players can be compensated while playing
Remember the days of being a broke college kid? When a Large Pizza or the $1 menu would feed you for a week? Luckily, in between studies, you could get a job and be able to function relatively “normal” as you ascend into the next phase of your life.
Now, imagine your full-time job doesn’t pay you and requires you to travel across the country with only the promise of education, and no money. This was a reality for many years in college sports.
While this was happening, Pro Basketball transitioned to a “one and done” format meaning that one year removed from high school, you could turn professional and be paid for your services in the NBA if you were good enough. So, as an 18-year-old basketball savant, you go play College Basketball for the year required in order to chase the millions of dollars in the NBA, but what about those not good enough to do just one year?
NIL has awarded these players a unique opportunity, to make money from their name, whether it is for advertisements, endorsements, or autograph signings etc. This allows the payers who may not be professional basketball players an opportunity to market themselves early and capitalize on their name while they have national notoriety.
Players will stay in college longer
Let’s say that you’re not the blue-chip five-star prospect that has the game to be a one-and-doner. You very easily could go and play overseas as a professional or even make the G-league and play for a decent salary, but with little to no marketing in the United States. With the addition of NIL, players can make a decent amount of money to stay in college and hone their skills to be better prepared for the NBA.
Whether it is developing into your adult body, or taking the higher-level coaching college offers, you don’t have to sacrifice earnings to become a better version of yourself like you once had to in college sports. You can do three or four years to fully develop as opposed to the one or two average we see currently.
More years mean more experience, which in turn means a better product on the court (and in business). This could be the most crucial benefit to the sport, but there is one more that is at least close to this importance…
Players and teams stay together longer
This is, of course, a theory and there is a transfer portal, but the reality is with the opportunities that NIL allows, there isn’t as much urgency to leave college. If that is true, then the brands become stronger.
Imagine a North Carolina vs Duke rivalry that features a seventh matchup between core players. THAT is what makes a rivalry. It’s hard to become a blue-blood fan when the teams change yearly, but with the additional incentives to stay, there is a chance for College Basketball to rebound into the sport it once was.
Long gone are the days of Bird vs Magic, but there is no reason why we can’t have the talents of today bud into new and exciting rivalries. If the players stay longer, the brand becomes more recognizable which is equally beneficial to the school and the NCAA as a whole.
Player merchandise can be sold, benefitting the player and program. Programs can be built around core players that likely would have left if they couldn’t profit from their abilities, creating a more dynamic team that fans can cheer for longer. Oh, and let’s not forget that the best teams win titles, further advancing their brand as they enter the NBA or their future endeavors.
As far as advancing the game, NIL was a slam dunk decision for the NCAA and will directly benefit College Basketball.
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