Just two weeks into the name, image, and likeness (NIL) era in college sports, and we are already starting to see not only novel and creative partnerships, but also the emergence of legal gray areas and pitfalls for college athletes. This was, of course, to be expected with the NCAA acting with last minute haste (rather than methodical planning) coupled with the euphoria of athletes who could finally  make endorsement money without losing NCAA eligibility. Under those circumstances, nuance is out the window — until it isn't. Case in point: the rise of Barstool Athletes, the fledgling collegiate athlete marketing arm of digital media giant, Barstool Sports. On its face, Barstool Athletes offers a straightforward, merchandising- and social media-driven formula for athletes to market themselves to fans. However, in the rush to capitalize on this opportunity, student-athletes of schools in states that prohibited NIL deals with traditionally vice-oriented businesses, overlooked that Barstool could be construed as a company in the gambling business. Indeed, Barstool operates a sportsbook and was acquired by Penn National Gaming in early 2020. Now some of those who leapt before they looked could be risking their eligibility, after all. Above all, until there is more uniformity and/or stronger guidance across the country, student-athletes are safest clearing deal with their schools' compliance departments.  

From reference to vices, I shift to celebrating your virtue as you patiently waited for this week's installment of the Spotlight. So let's get to it:

  • Cannabis company (OK, back to vice), Solar Therapeutics, found itself in a "sticky" situation as it was sued by Sacha Baron Cohen for an unauthorized use of his likeness (in the form of Cohen's mockumentary character, Borat Sagdiyev) on a billboard. Cohen, for his part, asserts that he objects to the association because he has never used cannabis..."Ali G" on the other hand...?
  • NFT startup Notables has its share of notables in its corner — namely, the biggest Hollywood talent agencies — giving the platform a potential leg-up on the competition given their ability to funnel A-list athletes and entertainers into the space. But what would really be notable is if my agent returned my calls.
  • Each time you hop on your Peloton bike, you could be padding your favorite artists' royalty statements at a faster clip than you do on a traditional digital music streaming platform. Incidentally, streaming also describes my sweat and tears on a Peloton bike.

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