After winning five medals in her first Olympics—including four gold—17-year-old Missy Franklin appears to be the next Michael Phelps in the swimming world.
Despite her rapid rise to fame—including her performance in the pool and a rendition of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe"—high school senior Missy Franklin has turned down endorsement deals to remain an amateur and compete in college, as reported by Alon Harish of ABC News.
For those not aware, the NCAA requires that all athletes hold amateur status in order to compete.
Franklin's decision is completely contradictory to that of Phelps, who has or is currently endorsing companies like Kelloggs, Subway, Head and Shoulders and Under Armour, to name a few.
So what exactly is Franklin missing?
According to Harish's article, The Wall Street Journal estimated that she turned down $100,000 in prize money and a lot more in endorsements just so she can swim in college.
Ronald Oswalt, the CEO of Sports Marketing Experts, a Texas-based company that specializes in gaining sponsorships for athletes, believes Franklin's worth could be "in the millions" based solely off of her 2012 Olympic performance.
The decision whether to enter college or go pro is something we as fans often see many athletes contemplate, usually more in mainstream sports like baseball, football or basketball, and there's a fine line between gaining an education or cashing in.
For Franklin, there's the risk that she could lose her celebrity status by swimming in the NCAA, where she won't get as much recognition as if she were on a cereal box or in a commercial, or worse, there's the risk of injury.
Since swimming obviously isn't a contact sport, I'm sure the risk of tearing a rotator cuff or blowing out a shoulder is far from her mind—but it's not out of the question, which is why I think Franklin needs to cash in now.
Fellow USA Olympian, Gabby Douglas, who struck gold in London in gymnastics, opted to go the Phelps route and is slated to appear on a special-edition box of Corn Flakes, according to Harish's piece.
I'm all for teenage athletes getting an education, because let's face it, there's always life after sports.
But in Missy Franklin's case, she has the opportunity to take advantage of a rare and dominant performance and make a career out of it, at the mere age of 17.
There's absolutely no reason why Franklin can't cash in on her skill now and obtain a college degree after she's done swimming.
Regardless, she seems to be a smart girl with a bright future, but that future could have been a lot brighter, and a lot greener, had she accepted a deal.
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