The freedom for college athletes to make money by sponsorship opportunities has begun. While that is an on-going active discussion concerning how being paid through an NIL will affect college sports, some folks are preparing for NIL’s seeping down to high school or even lower athletic programs. One of those folks who is getting prepared for that seepage is Henry Jolly III who has two sons he is packaging in order to take full advantage of the NIL’s. Jolly has created a family logo, “Born to Go Pro” and his sons wear headbands that read “Jolly Boys.” The boys are 9 years old.
According to the Washington Post, Jolly has taught his boys that everything they do is part of their brand — from the way they play to their shoulder-length brown braids, which their father has made clear must be allowed by any middle school or high school coach recruiting them. He curates their social media feeds, spends hours editing their YouTube highlight videos and sometimes wears a T-shirt he made with the logos of seven youth basketball rankings websites, all of which have rated his sons the top second-graders in the country. The father is quoted, “That’s part of my strategy: Build their name up, build the expectations up, build their skills up, build their bodies up, so that by the time they get to high school, these companies are going to pay them to play. We want to do it as early as possible. I believe we’re going to be the pioneers.”
The seep of money invaded the NCAA during the 1930’s and has, in my opinion, ruined the game. Instead of learning through sport, we now have “How much can I make?” By today, the seepage has slid lower, and we have parents all over the country like Henry Jolly III. While he is free to parent as he wishes, his parenting skills remind me of a meeting some years ago when administrators were discussing possible actions to help a struggling student. As we examined the comments and actions of his father a fellow administrator observed, “To get a dog you need a license, but anyone can have a child.”
A book I read has the following words: “For the love of money is the root of all evil:…” Sadly, those words are often mis-quoted as “Money is the root of all evil.” If quoted correctly and followed we will view money as what it is- a commodity to be used by us, not use us.