The NCAA short shrift to student athletes doesn’t start and end with the inferior facilities and COVID-19 testing in the women’s March Madness bubble.

Far from it.

It has been evident for some time that the organization’s prohibition on athletes to benefit from their own names, images, and similarities is particularly harmful to women.

Of the 16 women’s and men’s teams that rose to Elite Eight, eight of the top ten most-visited athletes on Instagram and Twitter are women, according to data from sports marketing company Opendorse released Monday by Axios.

People with large social media followers can monetize their popularity through sponsored posts, advertising revenue on YouTube, and other partnerships. They are called “influencers,” and what once seemed an overt persecution to this not-so-old person is now a real opportunity to get fairly well paid.

Case in point: Hunter Woodhall. Until recently, Woodhall was an athlete at the University of Arkansas, the first double amputee to ever receive an athletic scholarship. He’s an incredible story: his parents were born without fibulae and decided to have doctors remove his lower legs just below his knees when he was 11 months old. His parents were told never to leave. Instead, using carbon fiber blades, Woodhall became not only one of the fastest Paralympic runners in the country, but also one of the fastest high schoolers 400 meters away.

Woodhall’s story, adorable charm, and telegenic and talented girlfriend Tara Davis, the newly minted NCAA indoor and outdoor long jump record holder, have resulted in millions of followers on social media platforms.

And in February, Woodhall announced that despite remaining eligibility as a college athlete, he was done. Why? Because he was tired of the outdated NCAA rules and wanted to start making money while continuing to train for the upcoming Tokyo Paralympics.

The story goes on

Just a few posts later, he showed up outside the house he had just bought and said the post was sponsored by the Discovery Plus streaming service.

Woodhall told the New York Times that he makes around $ 7,500 per post and can easily make 10 per month. You can count.

With that in mind, think of UConn super newbie Paige Bueckers. Bueckers’ Instagram page has grown to over 705,000 followers at the time of this writing. Yes, Bueckers will play in the WNBA, but the league rules dictate how long she has to stay in college and currently there is no such thing as the NBA’s G League that she can join.

UConn’s Paige Bueckers is one of many college athletes who, through no fault of their own, miss out on NIL and social media sponsorship funds. (Photo by Benjamin Solomon / Getty Images)

Imagine if she could start monetizing her Instagram feed now, just as ESPN, which broadcast UConn’s Sweet 16 game against Iowa, went out of its way to promote Bueckers against freshman Caitlin Clark.

Opendorse estimates that using a formula that weighs engagement rate, market size, and sports department revenue, Bueckers could make about $ 380,000 on their social media platforms. Louisville’s Hailey Van Lith, who plays for a school in a larger market, has 681,000 followers on Instagram and Opendorse estimates she could make nearly $ 1 million through her social media.

All the money they’ll never see because the NCAA continues to want us to believe that it’s okay for student-athletes not to reap money from their own faces and names while their coaches are making millions from their players’ talent can.

The cases that always seemed most annoying involve sports where there is really no way to go pro, such as playing sports. B. Gymnastics.

It seems that every year at least one UCLA gymnast – usually a woman of color – goes viral for an electrifying floor exercise performance. Her skills raise UCLA’s name nationally, create immeasurable school recruiting opportunities, and potentially get her into an episode of “Ellen,” but gets nothing else.

In January it was Nia Dennis. Dennis’ flawless “Black Excellence” routine, which included some of the steps common to Black Sorority members, C-walking and so much falls, received 3.1 million views on the UCLA Athletics YouTube page. Outside of the women’s gym team, this UCLA Athletics site is fortunate enough to receive 1,000 views of a video. Dennis’ homage to Beyonce went viral a year ago and received 4 million views for the Pac-12’s YouTube page.

Former teammate Katelyn Ohashi’s floor routine for the 2019 National Championship earned nearly 6 million views on the NCAA’s YouTube page.

Imagine if Dennis and Ohashi even got a nickel for each of these views while Ohashi was still in college and Dennis graduating from college.

(And please don’t try the line, “But they get a free education.” If a student on a music scholarship creates a song in their dorm that goes viral, they can sell the song on iTunes and keep the money, and don’t lose their scholarship.)

Data shows that women dominate social media consumption and that 14.5% of all Instagram users worldwide are women between the ages of 18 and 24. In the US, 56.6% of Instagram users are female. They also create more content.

When the NCAA finally stops telling the lie that if these student-athletes take advantage of their own talent, it will spoil their college experience or our point of view, women will take advantage of the sexist idea that “nobody” is one for will kill all time, kill once and for all. takes care of female athletes.

Or as Alexis Ohanian, arguably the most visible example of what it means to be a supportive husband to a superstar woman, wrote on Twitter: “The more successful these women become, the more it will upset the men who continue to discount them, however The same men who often worship at the altar of the free market will expect that market not to care about their feelings. “

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