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    Dr. Niehoff: High School Athletes Must Be Protected

    NIL NETWORK INSIGHTRecap: Niehoff discusses the impending NIL legislation and the potential issues should high school-age athletes not be protected and educated about the new rules.Observations: This article brings to light an issue that is commonly ignored – what is the trick down effect to the high school level? How can we ensure that high school athletes maintain their amateurism? Or will the new legislation leave the door open for pre-collegiate athletes to also monetize their NIL?Athlete Tips & Takeaways:If you are not yet in college, always double-check with your future university before engaging with any brands or doing paid work based on your abilities within your sport. The potential consequences, ineligibility, are not worth it! Protecting amateur student-athletes’ name, image, and likeness issues remain a concern in amateur sports, particularly at the college level.Courtesy Dr. Karissa Niehoff and the National Federation of High Schools, you can read more on the topic below:~ By Dr. Karissa Niehoff ~Since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down high school sports and performing arts last March, we have been looking forward to that day when normalcy returns. While there are challenging days ahead, the turning of the calendar to 2021 and the approval of vaccines provide the first ray of sunshine in 10 months.  Although it may be summer or fall before anything resembling nationwide normalcy occurs, we believe there will be a day when education-based activities programs return to their previous form.  There is a troublesome issue on the horizon, however, that if not addressed appropriately could have a longer-term negative impact on education-based interscholastic sports and performing arts than the terrible, but more temporary, impact of any novel coronavirus.    While the governance process is still uncertain, it seems possible that at some point in 2021, in some form or another, college athletes could be earning money from their “Name, Image and Likeness” (NIL) through endorsement deals, sponsorships and other opportunities.  At its convention later this month, the NCAA is scheduled to vote on a proposal that would allow college athletes to accept endorsement money starting this summer. Several states have already passed laws allowing NIL benefits without specific definition as to how this might happen – the first of which is due to take effect this summer and would be less restrictive than what the NCAA is proposing.  In addition, there are at least four proposals in Congress to overhaul college sports, the latest of which – the College Athlete Bill of Rights – could force some schools to share revenue with athletes and create a Commission on College Athletics.  Finally, last month, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear the Alston case, which addresses the levels of caps on compensation the NCAA can impose on college football and basketball players. Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at Tulane University, said the Supreme Court’s decision could “ . . . open the door to significant competition between schools for athletes’ services and ultimately allow schools to pay anything they want to try to attract the athlete. Or it could completely shut down that competition.”      What is missing in all of these …