How NIL has transformed gymnastics for Olympians, NCAA and beyond

Long article: https://www.espn.com/college-sports/story/_/id/35483034/how-nil-transformed-gymnastics-olympians-ncaa-beyond

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Good article.

I found it interesting that prior to even turning senior, Konnor McClain was seriously considering going pro. I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me; her mom is quite the stage mom, after all. But for an athlete who is more notable for what teams she has missed out on, and never won a senior AA title at that point, it seemed odd to bank on getting big time endorsement money. And one could have always gone to Laurie Hernandez route: sign with a team, then go pro when the opportunities come pouring in.

Atler was such an unusual situation, going right after the MAG 7, being so far ahead of her time with her online presence. I think any gymnast thinking they can bank endorsements the way Atler did before even making a worlds team is sorely mistaken. And of course, Atler regrets turning pro in hindsight.

McClain was lucky she didn’t make the Junior World team in 2019, had she competed (maybe even medaled in AA and beam) along with her team bronze, she might have gone pro.

What team had Hernandez verballed to? Was it Florida? I can’t recall.
Had NIL been just a few years earlier, she would be competing as a Gator right now. UGH! What could have been.

Yes, Laurie was committed to Florida. It’s in the article :slight_smile:

AH! I read but was also putting away groceries as I did so and missed it!

Yeah that did seem ambitious.

I’m also wondering how much someone like Dulcy Caylor might expect to earn in NIL? Elite but not a big name (so far anyway), not much of a social media following. How does that translate into cash? How much difference does being on a popular and successful team make to the earning potential of a lesser known gymnast?

An interesting comment in there about elite going back to the perfect 10. I think we’re a very long way from the FIG having any interest in that, but if the NCAA were ever able to offer enough money (or money at all, I understand there are currently legal obstacles to this) to all the top international gymnasts…

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Advertising…she can appear in a GK or Ozone print ad and now get paid for it, as opposed to before, where gymnasts could do the ads but only if they didn’t accept the money, IIRC.

Dulcy’s mom said in the article that Dulcy is shy but feels good routines that go viral might be her ticket to making money. Ohashi might have been a big earner if things had changed earlier.

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I feel like it’s naive to think NCAA is an advertisement for the perfect 10 so long as there are so many deductions ignored. FIG would have no interest in that. Now if the NCAA could score routines in a way that made the scoring make sense on an actual deduction-to-error level, even if the deductions are smaller, it would do more in that direction.

FIG would only go back to the perfect 10 if it was demonstrated that they could do it and still separate scores.

Nobody is willing to do that. The NCAA men’s program started doing it in 2006-2008 and then gave it up partly because they didn’t get it quite right.

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I think it’s easy to forget just how insignificant NCAA is to the gymnastics world.
I did find it very unsettling to read of parents talking about their child as a brand, effectively.

I wonder that for as much as it brings deserved opportunity for gymnasts, it might be a negative for some and added pressure

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It isn’t an advertisement for it in that sense, but the average American who watches gymnastics once every four years at most doesn’t know anything about the issues with NCAA scoring, and if they do probably thinks it’s worse at international competitions when the Russians or whoever are involved. The argument for it would be that the perfect 10 (and the more 10s awarded the better) could make for a better entertainment product and can draw in more casual audiences. As Rowland says “People are gravitating to NCAA gymnastics because they know what a perfect 10 is.” And eyeballs = money, or so they hope.

None of that says it would ever be a good idea for the FIG from a sporting perspective, and there are 150 member federations with no interest in the NCAA, but money makes the world go round.

My husband only watches gymnastics casually sometimes, and he’s commented on the uselessness of having ten points if you’re only going to use .2 of them most of the time. The scoring confuses him greatly because of it, and he takes the sport less seriously as a result even though he enjoys some of the NCAA routines more (see: Ohashi etc…). He can sometimes see when a routine is overscored. I think it’s underselling the common sense of the casual viewer to say that they think this is somehow how it is or how it should be.

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And if “going back to the perfect 10” were somehow the solution, they could just highlight the execution score by announcing it first or something. But i always thought the perfect 10 was bs, as a casual viewer, because everyone was getting 9.9s. Then they started adding on decimal places, then they really started knocking the scores down and it became apparent that a 10 was never, ever going to be achieved again, so why make the athletes strive toward something impossible?

They give out 10s a little too frequently in ncaa, especially if you are a big name athlete, but at least it is possible. When most meets only have 2-4 gymnasts doing AA, it doesn’t matter that they all score a 39.2-39.6 but could you imagine that at Wolds? An 18 way tie for gold!

The deductions are there, but they’re not used, which is frustrating. When a FTY with a clear .1 hop receives a 9.9, that’s a huge problem. Y1.5s with a step backwards are going 9.85 or 9.9, when the code is clear that it’s .1 for the step and .1 for being short (plus any other deductions). The end result is 10s for routines that clearly aren’t 10s because the judges box themselves in form the very start. It’s ridiculous and frustrating.

So much this. I guess really it’s no different than in the past when parents saw their kids as money-making machines and had them turn pro, it’s just much more widespread now because of NIL.

Hark the new age of social media parenting and turning your children into content/brands. And then seeing the actual demographics of the children’s “fanbase” and how the parents lean into it, even selling photos of their minor daughters.

I just gotta chuckle, some of you tut-tutting the social media and branding kids are the same ones that are just shocked when Livvy Dunne is brought up in any constructive discussion about cultural issues and its impact on societal reactions. Immediately called a misogynist and slut shamer. How do you think she got to her huge NIL deals and cultural relevance?

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Given that she was already doing social media in college without monetization, I am pretty sure it wasn’t her parents telling her to do it, if that’s whatever the heck you’re trying to get at.

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I don’t see anyone shaming the gymnasts here, only their parents.

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