When Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) was first announced, I thought it was a good thing. It wasn’t fair that universities could make money off of college athletes when they couldn’t make any money themselves. College is expensive. So, when I saw that All American would be taking on NIL, I got excited. I wanted to see it from the inside of sports, even if it is a fictional take. And, of course, our Olivia Baker was going to be digging into it, which made me even more excited for this episode.
We got various views of NIL from the All American characters. Most of them shared a common thread of this being a good thing. Spencer James (Daniel Ezra) is trying to get endorsements so he doesn’t have to worry about money anymore. Billy Baker’s (Taye Diggs) former teammate couldn’t play anymore after taking an airline ticket after a family member died. It was interesting to hear his take since he saw players getting money before it was legal. This justified why I thought it was a good thing. Davita (Brittany Marie Batchelder) had a more nuanced opinion. She said it was more about the power than the money. I agreed with her that some would make good choices and others would make bad ones.
This is why I now have mixed opinions on this. What is a college student going to do with a seven-figure deal? Unless they were lucky enough to have a coach like Billy teaching them financial literacy, they have no idea how to hand that amount of money. But does that mean that someone like Spencer should not get the opportunity to earn some money from endorsements because some students won’t be able to make good choices? No. That’s the take Davita has, too. And she does believe that it needs some work too.
I don’t pay attention to college sports, so I haven’t seen how NIL has affected the athletes after it was implemented. So I don’t know what the real-world effects are of this. Which is part of the reason I was interested in seeing this episode. I believed Liv (Samantha Logan) had a story here too. She just didn’t have it all mapped out yet. It reminded me a little of Jane Sloan from The Bold Type. She would also be blinded by her own opinion that she couldn’t see the story. Olivia talking to different people helped her open up her mind and see that her opinion is valid, but it’s much more complicated than that.
Then Wade Waters (Christian James) gives her the story she was looking for. He missed practice to go for a NIL meeting. His teammates covered for him, namely Jordan Baker (Michael Evans Behling), but cameras caught him at the meeting, so Coach Ivan Garrett (Sean Carrigan) benched him from the game. I loved that. The coach doesn’t play favorites. Not even the QB1 can get away with not showing up for practice as it should be.
But Wade still has a big head about him now that he’s signed a deal with a private jet company. I wasn’t surprised when he disinvited Jordan because Jordan played, and he didn’t. That had nothing to do with Jordan. But Wade thinks the world revolves around him.
Liv got her story. A QB1 missing practice for a NIL deal and being benched is a big deal. It shows that for some players, the deals are more important than the game and they feel entitled that they should play even when they don’t show up to practice. This is the side of NIL that isn’t good. Which was what Olivia was trying to say, but she didn’t have something tangible. Now she does.
Unfortunately, Wade plays on Jordan and Spence’s team, so this won’t be pretty. The NIL stuff is not going away. Not just because of Liv’s article but because of Spence’s game turn around tackle that got him on national television. Now, he’s producing heat, which could lead to endorsements. Davita is also going to help him create his brand. It seems like people can’t get ahead in anything without having their own brand.
What is your view of NIL, and how do you think All American is handling it? Tweet me @PrimetimeDrama or @MandyTTCarr or comment below.