There’s a bright spot especially for women and female athletes, amidst a looming recession. Compared to zero the prior year, athletes can now make money off of their likeness, what is known as NIL or Name Image Likeness.
Women dominate NIL
Female athletes still dominate NIL with the Cavinder sisters leading the charge. Other notable female basketball players like the University of Connecticut Husky, Paige Bueckers, has a slew of NIL deals including StockX, Gatorade, Crocs, Bose, and Cash App.
The numbers speak for themselves: female athletes generate 4x more engagement and 7x more engagement per deal than men. Women collegiate athletes have enjoyed more deal growth in the past year across the major sports (soccer, gymnastics, track, softball, basketball) than men.
The top athletes in women’s sports are Lauren Burke for softball with 20 deals, Hanna Cavinder in basketball with 18, Olivia Dunne in gymnastics with 15, Masai Russell in track and field with 14, and Marlee Smith in wrestling with 10. Other women’s sports that are flourishing in NIL are volleyball, golf, soccer, aquatics, tennis, cheerleading, lacrosse, field hockey, and ice hockey.
Why do women dominate and how can men catch up?
Women are natural content creators. They can talk about a variety of things from lifestyle to their day to day to fashion to beauty. Men are pretty much one dimensional. They talk about their sport, maybe their workout routines, and possibly diets. There aren’t many brands or products in that pipeline.
Women have more charisma than men. Men, unless you are the Rock, are not that charismatic in front of the camera. Even Tom Brady, one of the greatest football players of all time, is pretty stoic during postgame interviews.
Women shop. Let’s be honest here, women make 85% of all consumer purchases in the US and drive 70-80% of spending among consumers. Something like Amazon is very male centric. Need something? Get it, and use one click to check out. On the other hand, something like Pinterest is more female driven. The thrill of discovery and finding new products is what that platform is all about. Social media is also a discovery platform. While you might be following your favorite athletes, it could be a fun surprise to learn about your favorite athletes’ products.
Perhaps in an effort to let others catch up certain states are opening NIL to high schoolers. In Oregon, student athletes in high school can now be paid to endorse certain products. However, they can’t be paid to fix games, attend certain schools, or promote adult products.
Will this help men catch up?
Probably not. But don’t despair men, if you can make it through the college period the payout is huge. Professional men’s sports can be as much as 100x more than women’s. In basketball, men make up to 8.5 million where women make 75k, and in softball / baseball, men make up to 4 million and women are at 6k.
Finally at the top, not much has changed. In 2010, Tiger Woods, the top male athlete made $105 million and Maria Sharapova, the top female athlete, made $24.5 million. Nearly a decade later in 2019, Lionel Messi, the top male athlete, made $129 million, and the top female athlete, Serena Williams, made $29.2 million.
So even though men are lagging in NIL, they more than make up for it if they are able to become professional athletes. Now if you have a charismatic male athlete like the Rock, the sky’s the limit. In 2018 the Rock made $124 million which was the highest for an actor in the Forbes 100. Add endorsements, $20 million per film, and the businesses he’s in, and his net worth is close to a billion.
Are you a college or high school athlete trying to navigate NIL? Let us know your experiences!