Athletes Leave High School Early to Get Their Names


Quarterback Quinn Ewers of Southlake, Texas was expected to lead his city’s famed high school team this fall as they seek another state championship as the nation’s top soccer prospect.

Instead, on August 2, Ewers announced that he would graduate early, skip his final season at Carroll High, and enroll at Ohio State to pursue his quarterback job there, potentially continuing the hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsorship deals NCAA athletes currently have. Negotiation is free.

Ewer, 18, said on Twitter He said he was motivated in part by frustration with a new Texas law preventing high school athletes from signing similar deals.

Another high school athlete, Mikey Williams, a 17-year-old basketball star in North Carolina with more than three million followers on Instagram, signed a deal with a management and marketing company in July to secure sponsorship deals. This season, he plans to play on an independent team that is not bound by the rules that govern high school sports in North Carolina. Excel Sports Managementrepresenting Williams, told ESPN He said he expects the business deal to earn millions of dollars for the youth ineligible for the NBA draft by 2024.

Just as colleges have started grappling with these issues in recent weeks, so do high schools, where some top players have social media numbers that are as impressive as their athletic stats.

Some worry that high school sports and the unique pride and identity they provide to places like Southlake won’t be the same as big money impressing top athletes.

“There’s almost a romance about traditional high school sports,” said Karissa Niehoff, executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations. He fears endorsement deals for prep athletes will mean “the last bastion of amateurism will perish”.

But in reality, many have questioned the limits of amateurism for decades. And the antiquated notion of what high school sports should be—local stars, cheerleaders, and marching bands playing in front of bright lights, for nothing more than a love of school and society—develops as young athletes are recruited as fielders.

Generally, high school athletes are not allowed to sign endorsement agreements associated with high school teams. But there seems to be a loophole in some states for paying athletes to sign autographs or keep camps private. And the rules can vary by school, depending on whether they’re affiliated with a public high school athletic association.

“This is the Wild West,” Niehoff said.

Texas, one of three states that specifically prohibit high school athletes from signing sponsorship deals, state lawmakers have signaled their willingness to reconsider a ban that went into effect July 1. Given the unintended consequences of a star athlete like Ewers skipping his senior year.

Experts will likely reevaluate all state’s rules in light of what Robert Zayas, executive director of the New York State Public High School Athletic Association, describes as “the growing difficulty of distinguishing a student between enjoying his athletic reputation and being a student.” social media phenomenon.

Similar to a California rule, a proposed revision by the New York state association would allow high school athletes to take advantage of their names, images, and likenesses unless they are done in conjunction with a school, team, uniform, or logo.

“If a student-athlete can work at a car dealership on the weekends or in the summer and wash a car for $15 an hour, why can’t the same student convince people to buy cars from the same dealership? And you make $1,500?” said Zayas.

Traditional notions of amateurism are obsolete. The Olympics lifted its ban on professionals in the late 1980s. Gold medalist in women’s street skateboarding at the recently concluded Tokyo Games, 13 years old Momiji Nishiya of Japan lists more than half a dozen corporate sponsors on its Instagram account.

Ewers and Williams are not the first high school athletes in America to be impatient with the constraints of amateurism.

Olivia Moultrie, a youth football phenomenon from Portland, Ore., received a scholarship offer from North Carolina at age 11, but instead turned pro and signed an endorsement contract with Nike at age 13. The minimum age requirement of the league is 18.

“I don’t have a problem with that impatience,” said Anson Dorrance, who has coached North Carolina to 22 NCAA women’s soccer championships. “I support these kids who want to use their name, image and likeness to generate income. Who are we to stop them from doing that? They make money from their passions.”

The United States is one of the few countries where youth athletics is more organized by schools rather than sports clubs. Some managers, coaches and officials have expressed concern that star athletes like Ewers and Williams could ride on the crest of a wave that could disrupt the traditions and norms of school-sponsored sports.

Joe Martin, executive director of the Texas High School Coaches Association, said several problems can develop if some players have sponsorship contracts: Tension and jealousy in the locker room that undermine team spirit and commitment. Increasing abuse of transfer rules as strong high schools recruit players with the promise they can They build their brands better with improved visibility. Strange cases where some high school players make more money than their coach.

“The Ewers kid in Southlake does more than the entire coaching team, period; Think about it,” said Martin. It was something we didn’t have to deal with as coaches before.”

Still, high school football and basketball at the highest levels have long been big business. Even the idea of ​​a school team has undergone a radical transformation in some cases. Williams plans to play basketball this season at the newly founded Vertical Academy in Charlotte, NC, founded by his father. It will play a national program and plans to be sponsored by a shoe company. Vertical Academy is not a school but an independent team; Williams will be tutoring online or in person at a Christian school he previously attended, with his father, Mahlon Williams. He told the Charlotte Observer.

Recruitment is commonplace in high school football and basketball, legally and secretly. IMG Academy in Florida Attracts national and international athletes. Games are regularly shown on national television, and camps and tournaments for elite players are sponsored by shoe companies. Top players receive college scholarship offers from the eighth grade.

Carroll High School in Southlake, outside Dallas, plays football in a $15 million stadium. (Another force in the Dallas area, Allen High School, playing in a $60 million stadium.) Ewers’ star power, no longer on the high school team, helped Carroll get the reservation. will play the season opener on ESPNU on August 26 At AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys.

Ewers would have chosen to stay at Carroll High if he and his family had been able to take advantage of the economic opportunities there. Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sportsis the first to announce the quarterback’s intent to go to Ohio State.

“We don’t need the money,” Curtis Ewers, Quinn’s father and oil and gas executive, told Yahoo Sports. “It’s just the principle.”

Quinn Ewers and her family did not respond to The Times’ requests for comment. On Monday, it announced its first endorsement deal with a Dallas-based beverage company called Holy Kombucha, before heading to Ohio State. It is compatible with a school-based suicide prevention program called Hope Squad.

A 45-second video of Ewers showed him spinning a soccer ball on his finger and faking a snap off the center with a can of fermented tea. On Thursday, the video was viewed more than 600,000 times. The company declined to give details about the approval, except to say it’s been at least a year. One person familiar with the deal said he would pay Ewers six figures; That’s as remarkable as the high school statistics of 73 goals, 6,445 yards and just eight interceptions in two college seasons.

“We could have chosen another athlete with a bigger name,” said Theresa Pham, Holy Kombucha’s co-founder and chief operating officer. But given Ewers’ youth, social media visibility, and influence – she has more than 123,000 total followers on Instagram and Twitter – her ability to prevent suicide and bring awareness to the company’s drinks has made her endorsement a “perfect partnership.”

In July, Williams, a 1.2-metre guard who was rated the number 7 nominee for ESPN’s Top 100 players for the Class of 2023, became the first high school basketball player to sign a deal to monetize his name, image, and likeness.

Williams, a San Diego native, scored 77 points in one game as a freshman at San Ysidro High. He’s a master marksman and a thunder dunker. But perhaps the most impressive is the carefully cultivated brand it has developed on social media. Reportedly, Williams was so popular that he needed a police escort at his last AAU tournament.

“It’s an anomaly in the case of someone with a high school phenom,” said Matt Davis, vice president of Excel Sports Management, which plans to launch global brand partnerships over the next few months. “He’s a content creator. He is an outstanding basketball player. It has a huge following for a few years now.”

Blake Lawrence, co-founder and CEO of Opendorse, a tech company, said it would cost “several hundred dollars a month” for most high school athletes to monetize their names, images and likenesses using their digital media skills. This helps athletes create affirmation opportunities.

“These are not your grandfather’s endorsements to appear on billboards or appear in public,” Lawrence said. “This is a high school sophomore who streams on Twitch and has tens of thousands of viewers watch it live. What’s to stop her from yelling at Subway or a local hospital?”

Lawrence said that the sense of amateurism can be maintained as long as the high schools themselves don’t pay the athletes to play. For fans who go to football and basketball games on Friday nights, “Knowing that a kid is making a dollar or two on YouTube or getting paid for an autograph is not going to change the way they cheer,” he said.

In fact, Lawrence said, “If a school does this right, they will celebrate their athletes being marketable and they may see more fans in the stands.”


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