When something some people tried to restrain for some time finally gets loose, people like to say, “The genie is out of the bottle.”
Except this time around, it might be a razorback, gator, bulldog – or even a tiger – that got loose.
If anyone sees one of those creatures chasing a rebel, volunteer or commodore, don’t be surprised if their jersey says “NIL” on it.
First, let’s start at the beginning.
By now, if you follow sports in Louisiana, or have a TV, radio, cellphone or gabby neighbor, you have heard of the NIL issue.
NIL stands for name, image, likeness.
The idea is – and we can thank the U.S. Supreme Court for this, really – is a college athlete now can make money from his or her image, name or likeness.
They can endorse products or have their photos run in ads for items some people are trying to sell.
After all, if a 6-foot-6, 330-pound offensive lineman likes Life cereal, who cares if Mickey wolfs it down?
Maybe, but as the typical cranky, cynical newspaper reporter, this writer fully expects that genie is going to step aside and let those mentioned creatures bite some people in the seat of their pants.
First, how did we get to this seat of the pants?
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has spent decades saying no to money-making opportunities for athletes.
The Supreme Court ruled June 21 that the NCAA’s rules restricting education-related benefits were illegal.
And that was interpreted to mean, “Release the athletes; let them seek money.”
States led the way, some quickly approving the NIL concept, not waiting for the NCAA.
Some expect federal legislation someday on NIL. Really? The same Congress that can’t agree on a bill to repair broken down highways and falling down bridges. This writer can wait.
Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh concluded his own opinion agreeing with the unanimous decision with the sentence, “The NCAA is not above the law.”
Well, maybe, but we all know there are other people who, 1) Think they are above the law and 2) Don’t care about the law.
This writer could barely come up with a cynical observation before he was edged out by some radio sports talkers. They talk. They talk about sports. Do they really say anything, except what it takes to get people to call in and show advertisers that people pay attention?
Well, this time they did.
One talker said the NIL will be used in recruiting, that coaches will point out to high school seniors looking for NFL careers that their program attracts big NIL bucks.
Another talker pointed out that for some athletes, their best moment is when they signed a college scholarship. Once they get on campus, they will learn they are not as good as they have been told by everyone back home.
These soon-to-be scout team athletes will have to hurry to fill their NIL account before NIL payers realize what they are getting.
And that leads to the third, “Well, it may be illegal ...” item.
NIL money will go to the best athlete, or the most visible, or most written-about freshman.
A sports talker offered that sooner or later, someone will say, or prove, that someone who compiles a ranking of top athletes at some position in some sport got some money to “raise” the ranking of some athlete, maybe leading to more NIL money.
A long time ago that was a scandal in the radio industry called “payola,” disc jockeys – people who actually played records – paid off to play certain records.
The more certain songs were played, the more records were bought by teenagers and the more “popular” certain performers became. After all, if you heard their songs a lot, they must be popular, or talented, right?
You could trust those disc jockeys because they know music, right?
Some people have that same faith in this Top 50 quarterback list to that Top 5-Star pitchers rankings.
How fast college sports falls victim to any of those three possibilities above will decide who gets more than nipped in the seat of the pants.
There will always be some people who don’t think they will get caught or don’t see why a law or rule exists.
The fine print of any NIL game plan had better plan for those guys.
Money attracts all types. And that genie might end up laughing his seat of the pants off in his bottle.