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The time for paid high school athletes is now

(Top left) Photo credit: Mimi Mager, Grosse Pointe South’s Volleyball team during their 2023 senior night. (Top right) Photo Credit: Dailey Jogan, Grosse Pointe South Field Hockey team during their game against Mercy High School. (Bottom left) Photo Credit Amanda Frantz, Grosse Pointe South Girls basketball team during the 2022 season. (Bottom right) Photo credit: Leila Oskui Grosse Pointe South football team running out during their game against L’anse Creuse during the 2023 season.

The Michigan House legislation voted to approve a bill that would allow Michigan high school athletes to receive compensation for their name, image and likeness (NIL).

The Michigan Bill, HB 4816, still has to be passed through the Michigan Senate and must be signed by the governor. The bill states that no public or private high school can limit athletes from participating in receiving money for their NIL. South Varsity Head Football coach Chad Hepner has been coaching at South since 2001.

“Based on how much time they have to commit to this sport I certainly would be in support of this but I don’t know that I would, say, this is something that I need everyone to go out and do,’’ Hepner said. “I don’t think this will impact the majority of athletes, more of a select few at South.”

If passed, athletes will be allowed to do advertisements and sponsorships in return for payment. At the college level, more than half the NIL deals are made to football and basketball players, meaning this will more likely affect football and basketball players.

“I think that there is potential for some problems, even though there is a language written into the bill, I think that some schools or boosters that are schools of choice or a private school could use this as a way to entice students to go to that school,” Hepner said. “I also think that there is potential for college boosters or alumni who would use this to give deals to high school players to try and influence them to go and make a college decision.”

Some athletes are concerned about how this will affect the team relationships. Julia White ’25 is a double sport athlete, playing both Varsity Field Hockey and JV Lacrosse.

“I think this could possibly damage some player-to-player relationships due to competitive nature and jealousy,” White said. “I think when a team has nothing to pride themselves on, it brings the team together, and NIL deals could greatly damage that sort of team connection. My biggest concern is that players may start to play for themselves and not their school. Every time they get on the field they may forget they are playing for Grosse Pointe South High School and not themselves.”

After years of controversy, in April of 2021, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) voted to allow college athletes to receive compensation based on their NIL. South Amuni, Joey Klunder, plays football at the University of Michigan and receives compensation for his NIL.

“Some athletes receive more compensation than others depending on lots of factors like skill on the field, social media following, and personality,” Klunder said. “I think it’s really good for everybody, I think it lets athletes live a more self-sustained lifestyle. It lets them take control of their own finances before being out of college football.”

Many colleges with major athletic programs use an app called INFLCR that allows athletes to interact with companies and brands. Most athletes have their email linked on their social media, inviting brands to work with them.

“To any athlete would say, focus on your sport and the money will come, don’t put anything before the actual athletics themselves,” Klunder said.

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About the Contributor
Julia Roeder ’25, Supervising Web Editor
Whether it’s The Rolling Stone, Taylor Swift, Phoebe Bridgers, or Tyler the Creator, Julia Roeder ’25 is guaranteed to have seen them in concert. All eyes envy her as she walks into the journalism classroom wearing merchandise she bought from the concert the night before. When she’s not listening to her favorite artists, she spends most of her time jamming out on her own guitar, being your average aspiring popstar. Besides her still-amounting popstar career, Roeder is also the Supervising Web Editor of The Tower. This is Roeder’s second year on staff and she is looking forward to continuing her role and being involved in the community and school. “I love Tower because you’re informing the community of what’s going on and also getting to know people on staff,” Roeder said.

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