Well, today is the big day. If you're reading this week's installment of the Spotlight, it means that you survived the long and arduous journey of the name, image and likeness (NIL) era in college sports. Indeed, with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Board of Directors agreeing this week (Wednesday, June 30) to waive enforcement of its prohibition against collegiate athletes making money off of their NIL rights (their fame) amid interim guidance to schools, we find ourselves in a brave new world where you might see your alma mater's star quarterback licensing his or her NIL rights, newly-designed logos (I see you, Graham Mertz) for commercial use in anything from an advertisement for the off-campus car dealership to one for a multinational car brand. As ever, the devil is in the details, and in schools adopting their own rules and programs designed to educate and empower their student-athletes – particularly in the vast majority of states that do not have NIL legislation coming into effect today – those details are all the more devilish given that the NCAA spotted them less than a week to prepare its athletes (and themselves) for a moment that the NCAA could not itself prepare for in the span of years. With so much potential for uncertainty and confusion in this landscape, now more than ever, it is incumbent on educators, business advisors, coaches and parents to play an active role to ensure that the NIL era gets off on the right foot. Still, as we roll into a weekend in which the U.S. celebrates its independence, it's gratifying to know that college athletes will be celebrating their newfound independence (to a degree).

Speaking of which, although I don't have an early Fourth of July fireworks show to offer (my marketing budget wouldn't support it), allow me to dazzle your screen with this week's highlights:

  • Recording Artist/Producer/Entrepreneur Kanye West is suing Walmart for allegedly knocking-off his YEEZY footwear and apparel brand's wildly-popular, clog-like Foam Runner shoes. This comes just months after another controversy between YEEZY and Walmart in which Walmart claimed that YEEZY's new logo could cause consumer confusion. For me, the biggest controversy is that they both refer to those things (pictured in the related article below) as “shoes.”
  • With non-fungible tokens (NFTs) bursting onto the scene in the collectibles industry, it only makes sense that Marvel Entertainment would leverage the technology to tokenize its comic books and make big green that would put the Hulk to shame.
  • Sticking with the theme of NFTs as collectibles and picking up on last week's Spotlight, Jay-Z adds insult to injury, putting his album, “Reasonable Doubt” up for bidding as an NFT at Sotheby's – just days after his estranged business partner Damon Dash was hit with a lawsuit for seeking to do pretty much the same. It truly is a “Hard Knock Life.”

Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your Fourth of July!

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