One of the greatest sporting events each year was canceled when the COVID-19 virus traveled across the globe.
Then March Madness was fairly closed off in 2021 being held in Indianapolis with limited attendance to allow for social distancing with other COVID-19 variant spiking cases.
People could still make March Madness expert picks and have fun again, but it was not until 2022 that groundbreaking legislation allowed the most important part of the event to make money.
When the name, image, and likeness were passed and went into effect on July 1, 2021, it opened the game of college athletics in ways that held players back.
There is a lot to be learned from the name, image, and likeness era, and it has opened up a free market.
But there is a lot of good when it is used as intended, and March Madness is the perfect example of that.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is known for its legislation over its member institutions and for running national tournaments.
March Madness is the event that powers it all as the tournament brought in $1.5 billion in revenue in 2021 when it was essentially locked down.
But the players weren’t able to see a dime of that, at least not unless it was under the table.
But that has changed with name, image, and likeness, and those who play in the 68-team event that crowns a champion over three weeks stand to be the biggest benefactors as normalcy returns.
Players Can Profit
One of the first, great examples of how the name, image, and likeness can be used appropriately was during and following last year’s NCAA Tournament.
As St. Peter’s made its magical run to the Elite Eight and continued to slay some of the top teams – the Peacocks beat Kentucky, Murray State, and Purdue before losing to North Carolina – after winning its conference tournament championship.
The so-called star of that team was Doug Edert, the great 3-point shooter who would heat up at a moment’s notice.
He also had a memorable flow with long hair and a mustache that made his appearance like that of someone playing pickup basketball at the YMCA.
Next things next and Edert became the face of a Buffalo Wild Wings commercial that was broadcast during the tournament.
There were also t-shirts with Edert’s look and 3-point celebrations and layup finish sold, and he was able to receive the proceeds of those sales and for the commercial deal.
If that happened a year earlier, it would not have worked out. Think of all the great moments when players could have capitalized on buzzer beaters or miraculous runs by printing t-shirts and selling them.
Bryce Drew’s 3-pointer elevated Valparaiso on a national stage. Mario Chalmers hit a big 3-pointer in the Final Four.
Villanova won a national championship with a 3-pointer by Kris Jenkins in one of the craziest sequences to close a national championship.
Butler led by Gordon Hayward made deep tournament runs and became the Cinderella everyone was rooting for.
The opportunities were endless, and now players can finally capitalize.
The Public’s Money
Now that players can finally profit off their name, image, and likeness, it adds another great element to what made the tournament great, to begin with.
People support their alma maters, latch onto Cinderellas, and support teams from the brackets they fill out.
The tournament generates so much excitement in large part because of all the competitions that are held outside of the games themselves.
There are endless bracket challenges with friends, family, and coworkers competing against one another.
A little chip-in per bracket allows for a sizable payout among those competing.
People will pick multiple brackets based on analysis, mascots, colors, nicknames, etc.
Those then will be the teams people root for, especially the longer their bracket stays alive and is not busted.
But there are a lot of other ways for the public to make a few bucks. There are pick ‘em challenges, confidence picks, and survivor pools.
Each offers an opportunity to earn a little extra cash, especially for those who do not live in states with legalized sports gambling or do not want to go to offshore sportsbooks.
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