Could a kicker live up to the hype?

First of all, if you’re not familiar with the NCAA NIL (Name-Image-Likeness) Rules, you may want to go to this blog post I wrote back in August of 2022.

Now that you’re up to speed, you’re likely curious about how you, as a kicker, are linked to WWE Wrestling?

Well, in 2-words, you’re “probably not”, but you could be.

In a recent blog post from Kristi Dosh’s Business College Sports website, there’s an article that caught my attention and helps sum up how all of this NIL stuff actually works.

The WWE Next In Line program

WWE launched this program to expand its search for potential superstars. NIL athletes get access to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. There are also resources geared toward brand building, media training and live event promotion among others.

If you read the article in the link above, you learned that World Wrestling Entertainment has signed 46 NCAA athletes in the last two years, NOT to a WWE contract, but access to their facilities and branding resources. A coup to be sure for NCAA athletes, if your goal is to attract a larger social media following.

But did you see the list? Of course, there were wrestlers and football players in there as you’d expect, but tennis and soccer players? Really?

There’s even Mady Aulbach from tiny Youngstown State. She’s a 5’3 guard on her Penquins basketball team and currently averaging 1.7 PPG. This doesn’t sound like a future WWE star.

Take a closer look, and you’ll notice that these athletes are also “very attractive” — some big, some small, unique faces and usually plenty of attitude. Oh, and already well on their way to a large social following. In the last line of the story, it states, “…athletes that are part of this program have a combined 10 million followers on TikTok and over 2 million followers on Instagram.”

NIL money is all about influence and eyeballs. If you are a high schooler looking to get in on this, then the path is clear — you need to build a large audience of followers on social media, regardless of whether you are All-State or All-World.  You can be a “nobody” as long as you are perceived as a “somebody”.

I am not recommending that you attempt this.  Fame and fortune may not be the elixir you think it is… and it isn’t easy to achieve. But I run a marketing company in my “real life”.  I help businesses get eyeballs on their products and services. I know the strategies of building an online social presence. I know about building “a brand”. And, for the brave (or the foolish) high school athlete, this is a new path opened up by the NCAA NIL rules (or lack thereof).

Here’s the hype brought down to earth: Be honest with yourself. Are you the kind of person who can seek out this kind of fame and still keep your sanity? If you are, go for it. Enjoy the ride, but be aware of how NIL works… and doesn’t work. In the end, it really is up to you to present a compelling reason why others would want to follow your feed.

In the end, know this: when it comes to making money from NIL sports, these sponsors just want to know how many people you’re going to put in their seats.


Want another way to succeed?  Try this >