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12/11/19 blog post

Getting paid to play. What does this mean for your athlete’s future?

According to recent news, once the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) officially allows college athletes to receive sponsorships and endorsements they could soon pocket thousands of dollars during their college career. What does this mean for the average college athlete? Well if they are a swimmer, they can now use their position on the swim team to advertise lessons and make money off of that. It means they have a potential to earn even if their name or sport isn’t largely recognized.

In a quote from one CBS news article an expert explains; "Imagine you're a car dealer and you're in a city like Dayton, Ohio," said Kelly O'Keefe, a Virginia Commonwealth professor and branding expert. "Dayton has a good [college] basketball team, but their players aren't known outside the local level. But in Dayton, they're heroes. So, if I'm a car dealer, I'm looking at this as an opportunity to sponsor a local athlete." 

This has implications not just in traditional sports, but also non-traditional sports as well. For example, a college equestrian could score a sponsorship from a local horse riding school and training center or a golfer could receive endorsements from a local golf course.

Experts are predicting that local sponsorship dollars, though not in the millions, are still likely to be significant for students.These are students who put in hours of hard work and dedication to both their education and athletics and don’t have time to earn money working a job. Athletics is their job. Only a fraction of college athletes eventually turn professional, and for the rest, college is the only time they have to profit off their hard-earned athletic successes.

So what does all this mean for your athlete? For those lucky few exceptional athletes, it may keep them playing college sports before turning pro. For those who may just play in college, this may give them the opportunity to pay for the expenses that come along with getting a degree. On the downside, this may also give your athlete a false sense of entitlement and expectation that they will get paid. The most likely scenario is that your athlete won’t see the big bucks all the news outlets are talking about. Preparing your athlete for reality and helping them create realistic expectations of college athletics will result in a better experience during their college career.

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Lora Scott, MD

division chief sports medicine
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