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International Athletes Deserve Better. They Deserve Justice.

Along with millions of viewers, I was locked in to the Ohio State vs Notre Dame game this past weekend. As a Buckeye alum, it was a no brainer. We won and I celebrated accordingly, thankful our College Football Playoff hopes were still alive.

On Sunday, we learned that this game was the most watched college football game on NBC since 1993 - that’s 30 years for the non-STEM majors! The matchup averaged 10.5 million viewers and peaked at 14.2 million right as the Buckeyes marched down the field to score the game-winning touchdown. I was doom scrolling on Instagram yesterday preparing to write the weekly newsletter and saw a new post from Jesse Mirco, Ohio State football athlete.

Picture credit: Sarah Harris

I immediately scratched plans for the original newsletter idea and am choosing to write this one instead.

I met Jesse during a class lecture last week and was excited to see his “Ohio against the world” caption on my feed – then it hit me.

Brand strategists, content creators, and NIL educators may have different philosophies, but they are all aligned that leveraging moments related to their sport can boost their visibility and earning potential in the era. And after the most watched college football game on the NBC network, the starting punter for the Ohio State football team is unable to capitalize – still!

If you could not tell, I’m perturbed.

I am angry because NIL monetization is not for everybody. Not in the United States.

I am frustrated because during the original NIL deliberations and legislation process, why did no one in the room advocate for international students?

I am sad because there are increasing numbers of international athletes enrolling in U.S. higher education across all sports, athletes who will want to monetize their NIL similar to their U.S. citizen counterparts.

I am annoyed because it feels like I’m the only U.S. citizen and college administrator continuing to call attention to this injustice in NIL legislation.

I am exhausted, but I won’t quit.

Because it’s personal.

Jesse’s post moved me.

As an Ohio native, it is dope to see an international athlete bought into the “Ohio against the world” mentality.

As an educator, it is bothersome to see an international athlete settling into a culture and system that is not designed for him to thrive as both an international student and athlete.

Jesse is one of 24,000 NCAA international athletes who fail to have the same opportunity to participate in NIL monetization, let alone have equitable resources and personnel dedicated to retention, mental health, and career readiness.

As an industry, we are very slowly making strides with acknowledgement.

But we are beyond overdue for revolutionary action.

I am going to continue leading the way. I welcome y’all to walk with me.


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