Recent changes to name, image, and likeness (NIL) deals mean that younger professional sports players can earn more money now than ever.
- College players recently earned the right to make sponsorship and brand deals while playing for their school.
- By starting these deals earlier in their careers, players gain the experience needed to know how to navigate negotiations, maximizing their earning potential, The Future Party reports.
- Not every college player goes pro, and even fewer college athletes see significant earnings while in school, but for those who do go pro, the experience can provide great payoffs.
Why it’s news
Changes to laws that allow college players to capitalize on their popularity are still relatively new, meaning the college athletes who took advantage of sponsorship opportunities are just starting to enter the professional sports world.
NFL rookies this year have more knowledge regarding sponsorship deals than players that came before them. Younger athletes like C.J. Stroud of the Houston Texans, Bryce Young of the Carolina Panthers, and Bijan Robinson from the Atlanta Falcons are entering professional sports with existing NIL deals from brands.
Not only do these players have existing deals, but they also have a better understanding of how to navigate the high-profile sponsorships that may now be available to them, The Future Party reports. Young athletes can sometimes be taken advantage of before learning how sponsorships work and how much they are worth.
By allowing students to navigate these deals at a younger age and at lower stakes, athletes are better equipped for the professional world.
NFL Players Association licensing president Steve Scebelo says he is already starting to see a difference in the younger athletes and how they interact with sponsors.
“These players have come in with a better grasp as to what we do, how we license their rights, and how they can do it individually,” he says. “NIL teaches you professionalism on the field and off. It teaches you how to manage your time and money. It prepares you for what’s to come.”