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Just because you can...

...doesn't mean you should.

Ali Ince of Normal, IL has one. So does Sadie Engelhardt of Ventura, CA. What's that? Both high school athletes have a Name, Image, Likeness (NIL) contract with New Balance shoes. I would love to know for how much, but your guess as to the money is as good as mine.

At the present time, 30 states allow NIL's for prep athletes, the NFHS (the organization with heads in the sand), the national governing association , rather than establishing a universal rule, deferred to each state. Some of you will say, what's the big deal? If they can get the money why not let them?

Did you know that jumpsuits are the latest in men's fashion?

Think about this for a while. I guarantee good high school athletes will move simply because their state doesn't allow them to sign NIL's. Twenty states don't allow these. I guarantee some of the once-in-a-lifetime runners you are lucky enough to have developed will quit the team - won't run at another state meet - simply because it doesn't make sense longer.

I've heard coaches say it will benefit their team because the athlete will give "a portion of the money to his or her team and (schools) can use the money to buy equipment, pay for lessons, and travel expenses." Yeah. Right. Any high school coach who thinks they will benefit - that Nike or New Balance or Adidas or Hoka will give them money is sadly mistaken.

Did I mention jumpsuits are the latest in men's fashion?

Think of the conflicts these runners will have. Your high school has the state track meet but Susie/Johnny has it in their contract they have to run at _____ that weekend. Or there is an appearance in New York so they won't be at the big invitational on Saturday - sorry coach.

If Simeon Birnbaum or Connor Burns could have signed a Nike contract in high school, do you think they would have bothered running for their high school team? Competed at the state meet? Or any of the big high school XC/TF invitationals? I doubt it.

What's the incentive for Ali and Sadie to compete for their high school team?

For many years I've been an advocate for college athletes to profit off their name, image, or likeness - its only fair - but this is a bridge too far. Although honestly, I don't even believe that any teenager is mature enough to understand the implications of the NIL they have signed. And what's the incentive to coach someone who doesn't run for your HS team?

With NIL's we have opened Pandora's Box - and there is no way to turn back. Sad but true. So even if jumpsuits are the latest in men's styles, I still don't recommend any coach order one-piece meet sweats for the boys team - it's too big of a leap.

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