BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — College athletes getting paid for their name, image and likeness has been widely debated for the last several years. Now, that debate is extending down to high school athletes as Georgia becomes the most recent state to allow high schoolers to get NIL benefits.
Some people think athletes should be compensated for putting their body on the line, even in high school, while others think adding money to the sport at that young of an age will take away from the teamwork aspect.
“When you put money in it, it kind of destroys that team mentality. It’s going to put one person over another,” said Corner resident Jay Miller.
“Since when has America cared about kids being wealthy?” asked Columbiana resident Chris Fitzgerald. “High school kids getting a little bit of money in their pocket, maybe they’ll learn a little financial maturity, maybe that’ll help them make mistakes young.”
For some, playing sports while in grade school is about having fun and for the love of the sport, not making money.
“I just don’t understand how you have NIL existing with the current rules and regulations that we adhere to in our sport to keep it pure and keep it what it is,” said Thompson High School football head coach Mark Freeman.
According to NCSA College Recruiting, Georgia marks the 30th state to allow high school students to monetize their name, image and likeness, including one of Alabama’s other neighboring states Tennessee.
“They’re generating value and, so, why should they not be allowed to capitalize on that value they’ve been able to generate, you know, from all their many years of hard work on the field or the court or whatever the case may be,” said Darin White, executive director of the Center for Sports Analytics at Samford University. “It really is only fair if they, if we, do allow them to do that.”
Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville said he’d like to see kids be able to make money off their name but he wants to see regulations on it like how Georgia is prohibiting kids from doing work with tobacco, marijuana or alcohol companies.
“At least they’re putting some limitations on this to where anything that these young people do, they push it out the right way and make sure that it enhances other people’s lives and doesn’t encourage them to do things that they shouldn’t do at a young age,” said Tuberville.
The Alabama High School Athletic Association said they have no comment on the matter at this time.