What is NIL? Why is it a game changer for College Athletes?
What happens when the love of the game just isn’t enough to sustain a student that’s trying to leave it all on the field, get good grades, AND set up a future career in the sport? Being able to capitalize on NIL (name, image, and likeness) is soon to be a major game changer for student athletes across the country. Merchandise sales for College Athletes will be huge.
College athletes in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) don’t have the same rights as professional athletes. They can’t endorse products or accept sponsorship deals, but new NIL legislation is being presented that will finally allow them the right to earn compensation and brand themselves like the pros do.
These laws are shifting in favor of athletes. It’s important to be ready when the legislation is passed. Athletes should be thinking about how to sell themselves, how merch can help them, and how they want to tell their story. They’ll finally have the opportunity to own their name and use it their way soon enough, and now’s the time to get the ball rolling.
What Does NIL Do for College Athletes?
Owning your name, image, and likeness is crucial for a professional or would-be professional athlete. But what does that really mean; how do you own yourself?
A student athlete doing commercials for a chain restaurant, a student athlete wearing a brand’s clothing on Instagram in a sponsored post, a student athlete creating their own merch and selling it to their fans; these are all things college athletes currently can’t do.
The NCAA and the college essentially own the rights to that athlete and can market them how they want. They can use them in their advertisements, on their social media – but the student sees none of that profit.
You might be wondering how this really affects student athletes in the long run? They’re getting their school paid for – even room and board – so why are NIL rights so important?
College athletes don’t get paid. They may be getting their school paid for, but playing a sport even in school is a full-time job.
A numbers game.
A 2014 study by the National Labor Relations Board showed that players at major college football programs spent “40 to 50 hours per week on [football] duties during the three-or four-month football season.”
That’s hard work that leaves little time and energy for classes and studying, let alone having some kind of social life. If colleges aren’t going to pay their athletes, they need to implement NIL laws that will finally give these students a way to make extra money and start to build their professional image.
Considering just under 2% players of college football players actually make it to the NFL, this would give students more opportunities to market themselves and attract interest from the big time teams and recruiters.
And this applies to all sports. Playing on a recognized college team just isn’t enough anymore. Athletes need to find ways to use their image to their advantage and take social media and other advertising opportunities to get noticed.
Top Players to Watch in the NIL Game
It’s great to be able to start thinking about these opportunities, but how do you actually go about selling yourself as a college athlete when these NIL laws are finally enacted? They don’t have a PR team or the support that professionals do, so they’re going to have to turn to third party services, and there are some key players to watch.
OPENDORSE Leads the Way
Opendorse is an athlete marketing service that helps athletes plan their social media posts with content that both fans and partners will love. More than 30,000 athletes currently use their service that connects athletes with leaders in the sports marketing field and Opendorse’s people-driven social media management platform that generates data-driven marketing.
They guide you to create the kind of content that drives engagement and interest. Opendorse shows you how you can use the sport you love to build your brand and attract supporters. Athletes will be able to increase their exposure and engage with recruiters in a way they couldn’t have done before.
NOCAP SPORTS, The Rookie to Watch
Then there’s NOCAP Sports: a brand new entry into the NIL game. Their mission is to give every athlete the opportunity to succeed in the NIL era with access to the best tech, resources, and sponsorship opportunities.
“We wanted to give every athlete a chance to succeed in this new
era of college sports and that is why we built NOCAP. The platform will help athletes maximize their NIL earnings, stay compliant and get educated so that they are prepared for long term success both on and off the playing field.” – Nicholas Lord | Founder & CEO
This is a perfect option for college athletes just taking advantage of NIL rights when they become available. NOCAP helps athletes capitalize through multiple revenue streams, and connects businesses, agencies, and colleges with high-end resources to tackle everything NIL. NOCAP’s instagram is doing a great job showing athletes what they’re really worth.
FanWord, the Best Coach for Your NIL Strategy
For players that want to go beyond the hard data and show the heart of what they do, FanWord is another great option. Their whole thing is telling athlete stories that go beyond sports. They want to figure out what you’re all about and market you in a way that feels authentic and personal.
They use FanWord Stories to get to know an athlete and see what you want to share with your audience. Those stories are set up on a digital platform that can be integrated with existing websites and social media. This gives athletes a clean and visual representation of themselves that can house written content, video, photography, and social media.
If athletes want to know more about self-promotion and marketing, FanWord Coach provides the best-in-class NIL education from industry professionals. Easy-to-consume online courses and workshops are available for whatever topic you want to learn more about, like learning how to use Cameo, or starting a podcast.
Spreadshop + FanWord = A big win for Athletes!
We’re proud to be an official education partner with FanWord. Together, along with their other education partners, we look forward to helping College Athletes make smart choices and avoid the fumbles of entrepreneurship. Our goals are aligned with those of young athletes looking to share their story and promote themselves to their fans and followers. We’ve developed prosperous relationships with Youtubers, podcasters, and other content creators for nearly two decades, and we want to pass that experience on to Athletes.
Winning the Merch Game for College Athletes?
Having merch to be able to use for marketing and profit from is going to be a major game changer when NIL rules and regulations are lifted in the NCAA – and that’s where Spreadshop comes in!
It’s completely FREE to start a Spreadshop, and YOU get a portion of your sales. Plus, as a full-time, hardworking college athlete, you won’t have to worry about fulfilling inventory or dealing with customer service – we’ve got that all covered!
We can’t stress it enough. NIL is the most important thing to happen for College Athletes, maybe EVER.
If you’re an athlete be sure to get educated right now about Name / Image / Likeness laws in your state. Use the links in this article as a great start.
Our strategic partnerships with NIL agencies like FanWord make us a trusted source for all things merch. We’ll have more exclusive content soon with our partners here, but in the meantime if you have any questions about merchandise for student athletes, or if you’d like to team up with Spreadshop, shoot us an e-mail. We’re happy to share all we know to help you win in the merch game.
Merch is going to be a key source of support for athletes in the NIL space. Fans will want to show their support, and players will just want to have their name out there. It’s bound to become a crowded marketplace, but by using Spreadshop and integrating it with NIL services, you can get everything you want promotion wise without the headache of dealing with multiple platforms or services. Stay tuned for more news about our official integrations and partnerships with these platforms.
What’s Next for NIL? (2021)
NIL legislation has really ramped up within the last year. The pandemic further highlighted the concerns of college athletes and their lack of compensation and representation.
Bills regarding NIL laws have already been passed in 11 states, and bills for 18 states were introduced in 2021.
A national bill introduced in late April has bipartisan support and backing from the NCAA who are calling for a national law and value the bipartisanship of the bill.
While several states have NIL laws scheduled to take effect on July 1, including Florida and Mississippi. The NCAA is concerned that having NIL laws for different states will create confusion and competitive inequality, and is seeking a national NIL law from Congress.
“The time for action on this issue is now. Student-athletes have long deserved the right to profit from their NIL. Our bill would grant this right, while also protecting the integrity of the college sports system,” Rep. Anthony Gonzalez, co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement.
This bill from Gonzalez and Emanuel Cleaver is similar to one they introduced last September, but has an added change. It bars athletes, schools, and the NCAA from having deals with certain products and companies, like tobacco and casinos.
“Enactment of NIL laws for college athletes is going to come swiftly in what will hopefully be national reform.”- Emanuel Cleaver
It’s time for college athletes to own their image, and develop a brand. It’s going to make them more prospective to recruiters in the big leagues if they have sponsorship deals and merch development to show. With NIL, we’re entering a new era of sports marketing and Spreadshop is excited to be a part of the journey.