Opinion | The problem with paying high school athletes

Why high school athletes are now profitable.

Sophia Meador, Opinions Editor

High school athletes in Iowa can now be paid for their name, image, and likeness.

The  Iowa High School Athletics Association and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union announced on Aug. 17 guidelines for high school athletes to receive compensation for their NIL.

Although athletes can now accept pay for their NIL, the IHSAA and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union both released a strict set of rules athletes must follow:

  • “The compensation is not contingent on specific athletic performance or achievement.”
  • “The compensation (or prospective compensation) is not provided as an inducement to attend a particular school (“undue influence”) or to remain enrolled at a particular school.”
  • “The compensation is not provided by the school or an agent of the school (e.g., booster club, foundation, etc.).”

The guidelines also prohibits athletes from using IHSAA/Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union or member school logos, apparel or equipment in NIL activity.

While high school student athletes cannot be compensated for their performance or enrollment in a particular program, athletes can earn compensation for selling personal merchandise, appearing in advertisements, and hosting lessons or camps.

These new guidelines are beneficial for athletes who can now be paid for their NIL that they previously could not be compensated for. However, NIL compensation for high-school aged students begs the question: should teenage athletes be a source of profit?

In the media, we have heard countless stories from former child actors and actresses who were abused and taken advantage of by the industry.

In the past month, actress Jennette McCurdy has made headlines with the release of her book, “I’m glad my mom died.” In this memoir, McCurdy writes about the abuse she encountered as a child on the popular TV show “iCarly.”

This abuse came from inside the home and from prominent figures in the industry. As a result of this abuse, McCurdy struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders and anxiety triggered due to the pressure of adults.

But McCurdy’s experience is nothing unusual. Many former childhood stars have come forward about the abuse they experienced in the industry by individuals profiting off their childhood.

With all to respect to Iowa high school athletes, I don’t anticipate many athletes achieving comparable success to child actors in Hollywood. Hopefully these new guidelines only positively impact athletes whose NIL has gone previously uncompensated.

But this is something we should keep in mind as NIL takes shape in Iowa. Should we really be using the names and images of high school students?

There remains the possibility with these new guidelines that athletes NIL could be abused by those who seek to profit from their popularity. This could result in teenage athletes experiencing burnout, stress, and other mental health issues.

The reality is athletes NIL could be taken advantage, so we should be cautious of how high schoolers NIL are being used. To what extent should a high school athlete become a profitable figure?

With the IHSSA and Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union new guidelines, we should all be mindful of how these teenagers NIL is being used. There are several benefits athletes and their families can gain from these guidelines. But the greed of some may lead to negative implications for said athletes.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.