OT: Women in charge at LSU

Angel Reese and Olivia Dunne are having enormous success with their NIL deals. Photo courtesy of SI Swimsuit

JULIA LORELLI | SPORTS REPORTER | jlorelli@butler.edu 

Overtime, or “OT”, is an opinion column series where the Collegian takes national sports headlines or polarizing topics and gives them a Butler-centric angle

For over two years now, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has allowed athletes to earn money based on their name, image and likeness (NIL), but for the most part, the money has gone to men’s athletics. LSU stands apart, as they lead the NCAA in NIL deals for women’s sports. 

The Tigers are setting the standard for women’s athletics in NIL with two of the top 10 collegiate earners in the country; gymnastics icon and Sports Illustrated (SI) swimsuit model Olivia  “Livvy” Dunne and basketball star Angel Reese.

Dunne has made over $3.5 million through her NIL deals while partnering with several companies such as American Eagle, Forever 21 and Vuori. She was also featured in this year’s SI Swimsuit Issue, and started the Livvy fund which aims to educate women on partnerships and branding. At only 20 years old, Dunne is the highest-paid female collegiate athlete and third highest overall

Reese has made a total of $1.6 million through her NIL deals. She has 17 different sponsors who endorse her including Coach, Amazon, Wingstop, Bose, Banter, Sonic, Raising Cane’s and more. Nicknamed “Bayou Barbie,” Reese has used her influence to become a savvy businesswoman. 

Kaelyn Hart, a first-year criminology-psychology major, said social media has impacted the way that the world sees women athletes. She sees it as a positive thing because it allows them to grow and influence more people. 

“I think [seeing women in sports] just goes to show how much of an impact having a social media following can help female athletes excel more in their field,” Hart said. 

It is not easy to be a leader, but Dunne and Reese both realize the opportunities they have been given with their NIL deals. There is definitely pressure to be it all: a student, athlete, businesswoman, role model and leader. The list goes on and on. 

Dunne is stereotyped as being a “dumb blonde” and over-using her sexuality to take advantage of NIL deals. Reese has had to deal with racist double standards and media outrage after her hand gesture against Iowa Hawkeyes’ point guard Caitlin Clark even though Clark made the same gesture twice earlier in the tournament. With stereotypes working against them, Dunne and Reese have shown that if you believe in something, nothing is too great an obstacle. 

According to an interview with Sports Illustrated, Dunne and Reese said they are up to the challenge of overcoming all of these boundaries because it allows them to inspire people. They want to use their NIL to promote women’s sports while empowering women and girls to follow their dreams. 

Abby Phillips, a first-year speech, language and hearing sciences major, thinks that having two women on the list is a good start, but hopes for a more equitable list in the future as women’s athletics continue to gain more popularity.   

“It shows a lot that they’re the only two women in the top 10,” Phillips said. “I think that they’re both great athletes, but are on the list for completely different reasons. I think Livvy Dunne being on the list shows a lot how female athletes are valued more based on their looks and social media status rather than their actual athletic talent. Angel Reese, on the other hand, represents a new sense of competition and way of playing basketball that a lot of young athletes look up to and relate to.” 

Dunne and Reese’s impact is felt far beyond LSU. Just as people all over the world are following Dunne and Reese, students here at Butler are no different. Masses of fans admire the athletes for how they are moving things forward for women in sports. 

It is disappointing that it is the 21st century and women are not getting the respect they deserve based on their gender. Society has come a long way in many cases, but not when it comes to acknowledging women or their achievements. In most cases, women are only shown based on their looks, not their athletic ability, which shows how misogyny still exists for women in sports. 

Abby Maroun, a first-year chemistry major and long-time figure skater, is frustrated about the lack of acknowledgement of women in sports in general. 

“I know that in general, men’s sports are more popular, but why is that even the case?” Maroun said. “As a female athlete, I know the effort and dedication that goes into your craft, and it sickens me to know that only two of the amazing women were acknowledged. Overall, men having more popularity in their sport just because they’re men makes me annoyed.” 

While Dunne and Reese are rolling in money from their NIL deals, they want to ultimately use their popularity for the greater good of women in sports by showing everyone that female athletes are just as strong and accomplished as male athletes. 


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