We are officially halfway through the 2021 calendar year. Yes, you read that right. We start the first day of the seventh month of the year today!
As of last night, college sports from the 2020-2021 season have finally concluded. Baseball can drag on deep into the year but Mississippi State blew out Vanderbilt in the final game of the best-of-three series late last night. Any Louisville baseball fan is sure to have a massive grin seeing Vandy walk home empty-handed.
We saw some good news for UofL women's basketball yesterday and there's a big moment that began at 12:00 a.m., this morning. But let's hit the good news for UofL first...
Merissah Russell Named to Canadian Olympic Team
Jeff Walz brings in great talent as well as student-athletes with a top notch work ethic. Merissah Russell is no stranger to that as her hard work paid off.
The rising sophomore was named to Canada's Olympic team for women's basketball. She is one of four alternates listed, but will travel with the team. If unforeseen circumstances such as illness, injury, or family emergencies arise for any of those on the roster, Canada will have the option to promote her to the active roster. Even as an alternate, Russell will receive a medal if the CNT places.
Russell competed for Canada in the FIBA Women's AmeriCup back in June, where her team went 4-0 in pool play and advanced to the semifinals.
Team Canada is currently ranked fourth in the world and has qualified for their third straight Summer Olympics. They have never finished higher than fourth, which happened at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
The United States sits in a world of its own at the top ranking. Australia is ranked second with a little bit of space between them and those ranked behind them. Spain safely sits third in the world. Canada holds just a small point advantage over France for the fourth spot in the FIBA rankings. A cutout of the Top 10 has been posted above.
We wish Merissah Russell and Team Canada the best of luck in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but I'll still be cheering for Team USA in the end.
NIL Takes Effect Today
The NCAA's board of directors met yesterday and decided to allow every college athlete to profit off their Name, Image, and Likeliness effective July 1, 2021. Many players from different sports and schools around the country have begun marketing themselves with some already having some type of marketing firm or manager/agemt to assist with their duties.
Some of the ways student-athletes can profit off their NIL include monetizing their social media accounts, charging for autographs, teaching camps or lessons, starting their own businesses, and participating in advertising campaigns.
There are some limitations. Some states, but not all states, have laws in effect prohibiting the endorsement of alcohol, tobacco, or gambling products as well as from using their school's name or logo.
We've discussed and debated the good and the bad of this already.
The "Good" includes:
-Student-athletes being able to make money
-Many student-athletes who are on a partial or no scholarship (more players than you think) now have extra ways of income to pay for school
-Schools can't hold all rights to ta player's NIL
The "Bad" includes:
-Everything sports related in college athletics will become monetized, hurting the consumer
-Schools could lose money to the student-athletes because of NIL leading to raised ticket prices to offset the losses or less investment in facilities and equipment
-Money-hungry student-athletes chasing a paycheck while caring nothing for their school, team, or fans anymore
Let's point out that most current student-athletes will not make much money at all. Remember the phrase "There are more than 460,000 NCAA student-athletes, and most of them will go pro in something other than sports"? Well, from an economic and statistical standpoint, 460,000+ student-athletes won't be able to make a decent profit.
Those with large social media followings will be most likely to make a decent profit. An LSU gymnast has 3.9 million followers on Tik Tok with many followers being interested in her skills or her physical appearance. A recently graduated softball player from Oregon has 752,000 followers on Tik Tok, with her followers having the same interest as the gymnast. A current women's basketball player at UofL has 721,000 followers on Instagram. Based off comments on her posts her followers also have similar interests as the other two. Her associate with Kobe Bryant also helped her gain a following. A football player who recently graduated from Clemson is flirting with 1,000,000 followers on Instagram.
The social media presence will be mainly affected by how well known the school is, how good their team is, how much TV time they get, and their physical appearance. Anyone familiar with the negatives of social media understands that physical appearance is one of the most influential parts of your following.
If you're smart, it can be pretty easy to manipulate how successful your NIL can be.
But to those student-athletes, please don't forget the school who you represent, or your teammates who are there and have your back, and most importantly don't forget your fans. Don't betray your fans and don't let things go to your head. If someone wants a picture or an autograph, are you really going to be so stuck up you're going to charge money? Treat your fans with respect and thank them for their support or you probably won't have as many fans in the future.
I see both good and bad in the NIL approval, but it's something I think can and probably will spiral out of control quickly and college sports within the next five years will be way different.
Let's close out on a good note. The weekend is almost here. We approach a holiday weekend and the Fourth of July. Go swimming, grill out, set off fireworks (in a respectful manner if you have neighbors), have a lazy day, do whatever. Just find a way to enjoy yourself. I typically find myself doing some photography work related to Fourth of July so if I may, I would like to share a couple photos from the past couple weeks on here.