Keeping education at the forefront of school sports – Stateline Sports Network

Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, NFHS Executive Director

(6/14/24) Around this time three years ago, leaders in the high school sports world were concerned about the fallout from the NCAA’s decision to allow college athletes to monetize their success and profit from their own name, image and likeness. NIL).

The NFHS expressed concern about high school athletes taking advantage of their NIL. After all, NFHS member associations had rules that prohibited student-athletes from receiving money in any form related to wearing their school uniforms.

Since that landmark ruling in college sports, 36 high school associations have adopted NIL policies, the latest of which was the Florida High School Athletic Association last week. The landscape is significantly different at the high school level, as no state association allows a student-athlete to benefit from his NIL while wearing the school uniform or affiliated with the school in any way. The high school NIL rules provide athletes with the same entrepreneurial opportunities as any high school student.

Although approximately two-thirds of state associations have established NIL policies, the number of student-athletes involved in NIL deals has been minimal, and recent statistics from the Georgia High School Association confirm this belief. In an article in the Hook up Savannah In its release, the GHSA noted that since updating its NIL policy last October, only 44 (0.01 percent) of the 429,714 eligible student-athletes have signed and submitted NIL deals.

As the new model of college sports has evolved over the past three years, the NFHS and its member associations have worked to maintain the education-based nature of high school sports while also offering athletes the same NIL opportunities as other high school students.

Now, a new challenge has appeared on the horizon with the announcement last month that the NCAA and its five power conferences have agreed to allow schools to pay players directly for the first time in the century-plus history of college sports. While details are still pending, schools could share up to $20 million per year with their athletes by fall 2025.

Opinions vary on the merits of paying college athletes, but at the high school level there should be no debate. High school sports, with nearly eight million participants nationwide, are very different from college sports. High school sports are about the team, not an individual’s personal pursuit of excellence. The main reason an overwhelming majority of high school students participate in sports is to have fun and spend significant and meaningful time with their peers. The focus is not on themselves, but on the team.

While it is uncertain how these changes will develop, this deterioration of the amateur concept at the college level should not impact the team-based concept in education-oriented high school sports. The age-old scheme of colleges depending on high schools for their players will continue; However, high school coaches and administrators should be wary of anyone pursuing a scholarship (or direct payments in college sports) that exceeds the team’s goals.

While the route to college sports may change for the three to five percent of high school athletes who have that option, the focus should remain on the overall high school educational experience. Some will play sports at university level and move on to their chosen career; Others will take those values ​​of teamwork, discipline and self-confidence straight from the playing field into their chosen career.

The days of playing for the love of the game may be over at the college level, but there is nothing more fundamental to the past – and future – history of high school sports in the United States than the concept of amateurism. Let’s do everything possible to keep education at the forefront of school sports.

Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff is in her sixth year as CEO of the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in Indianapolis, Indiana. She is the first woman to lead the national leadership organization for high school athletics and performing arts activities and the sixth full-time executive director of the NFHS. She previously served as executive director of the Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference for seven years.