Protecting Youth Athletes in the NIL Era

In recent months, name, image, and likeness opportunities have quickly filtered down from the collegiate ranks to the high school and youth levels. To protect youth athletes in this space, Philadelphia Councilmember Isaiah Thomas recently introduced the “Philly NIL Youth Protection Act.”[1] The purpose of this ordinance is to establish provisions related to education and counseling for certain Philadelphia youth and their families who are considering licensing publicity rights.[2]

Moreover, the ordinance identifies Covered Students as “[a]ny Philadelphia resident attending high school whose family has an adjusted gross income of $150,000 or less annually, who either has received, or the City has determined is likely to receive, a NIL Deal, and their family, including guardians.” Id. Under the ordinance, a “NIL Deal” is recognized as an “offer to enter into a contract or similar arrangement between with a third-party individual or entity pursuant to which the third-party licenses the publicity rights of the student, including the right to use the name, image or likeness of the student for commercial purposes.” Id.

Overall, the Philly Youth Protection Act seeks to provide financial literacy and consumer protections for youth athletes interested in participating in the name, image, and likeness space.[3] Specifically, if passed, the Act would provide educational materials on NIL deals to students and their families that highlight both the benefits and the risks of entering NIL deals. Id. Furthermore, the Act would establish the creation of the Philly NIL Youth Protection Fund intended to provide families of students offered NIL deals access to a city-approved lawyer and/or accountant for further guidance into the understanding and negotiation of the NIL deals. Id.

While Pennsylvania is not yet a state that allows high school NIL deals, the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association (“PIAA”) has approved a plan to allow NIL on first reading. Specifically, this past July, the PIAA board approved new NIL guidelines that would allow athletes to receive compensation for commercial endorsements, promotional activities and social media presence.[4] Next, the policy must pass two more readings at future meetings before being officially enacted. Id.

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