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 #27 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Kids’ Sports: How We Can Take Back the Game and Restore Quality Family Time In the Process – Linda Flanagan is author of “Take Back the Game: How Money and Mania Are Ruining Kids’ Sports and Why It Matters.” We discuss how commercialized and professionalized youth sports are hurting kids and their families. Linda writes extensively about how youth sports can hijack families, and family outings, non-sports activities and bonding time are lost in the pursuit of the next club team game or travel tournament.
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Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.”
Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
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.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
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.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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