By Ken Reed
When it became okay for college athletes to benefit financially from their names, images and likenesses (NIL), the thought was that only football players and men’s basketball players would really benefit.
Well, that hasn’t been the case. Women in a variety of sports are doing quite well, better than their male counterparts in a lot of cases.
According to a company called Opendorse, which is helping universities and college athletes navigate marketing opportunities in the NIL era, football players are receiving the most endorsement money, followed by women’s basketball players, men’s basketball players, and then two more women’s sports: swimming and diving and volleyball. Paige Bueckers, a women’s hoops player for UConn, is reportedly earning over $1 million.
“If you take football players out of the equation and look at how student-athletes are monetizing sponsors in this new world, women’s sports athletes are crushing the men,” says Blake Lawrence, chief executive of Opendorse.
Stanford women’s basketball player Haley Jones is another female college athlete that’s crushing the NIL game. Her marketing agent is PRP, a talent agency in Las Vegas whose clients include Shaquille O’Neal and Jayson Tatum. She has sponsor deals with Beats by Dre, NBA 2K, Coin Cloud and hair product company Uncle Funky’s Daughter.
For years, the NCAA has undervalued and undermarketed women’s sports. In last year’s NCAA women’s basketball tournament, Oregon’s Sedona Prince highlighted, via social media posts, the second-class treatment the NCAA was giving women relative to their male counterparts. Prince shared videos of the joke of a “weight room” the women had been provided vs. the massive training facilities provided for the men. She also highlighted the significant differences in accommodations, meals and swag bags.
Despite minimal promotional efforts by the NCAA, the 2021 NCAA women’s basketball championship game between Stanford and Arizona outdrew the average NBA playoff game last season. And ratings for this year’s women’s games rose once again.
The current interest by marketers in female college athletes is but another example of how the NCAA has misjudged the appeal and value of its women’s sports teams.
Nevertheless, we’re entering a boon period for women’s college athletics, with or without the NCAA’s help.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. He previously covered the Los Angeles Dodgers for The Athletic. His new book is titled “How to Beat a Broken Game: The Rise of the Dodgers in a League on the Brink.” We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
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Episode #20 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Coaching Youth and High School Sports Based On What’s Best for the Athlete’s Holistic Development – We chat with long-time youth, high school and college basketball coach Jim Huber.
Episode #19 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Capturing the Spirit of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League with Anika Orrock – We discuss the hoops AAGPFL women had to jump through to play the game they loved as well as the long-term impact and legacy they have in advancing sports opportunities for girls and women.
Episode #18 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking about the 50th Anniversary of Title IX and the Lia Thomas Controversy with Nancy Hogshead-Makar – Hogshead-Makar is a triple gold medalist in swimming, a civil rights attorney and CEO of Champion Women.
Episode #17 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Talking Sports With Legendary New York Times Sports Columnist Robert Lipsyte – We chat about Lipsyte’s amazing career and some of the athletes he covered.
Episode #16 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Andrew Maraniss: Outstanding Author of Books That Focus On the Intersection of Sports, History and Social Justice.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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