So this is likely to remain a basketball affair.
The gist of it is that the apparel companies are funneling top recruits (and likely future NBA stars) to marquee schools by bribing the player/families. 5-star recruit signs with, say, Louisville. Why? High-profile school, stocked with other funneled top talent, and that pretty much guarantees the school will remain a high-profile team in the nation all year and will go far in the NCAA Tournament. Hype builds around the aforementioned player, they go as a top draft pick after one year in college, and then, they immediately sign a deal with the apparel company that bribed them in the first place. Kids then flock to buy that athlete’s branded shoes. In the big picture, $100K is peanuts for marketing and development.
You can’t really do that with football players for a number of reasons. Trying to predict who will be a future NFL star is almost impossible. The top-rated high school QBs in the nation flame out at the college level all the time. And you need 3 years in college before you can even sniff the NFL, whereas the NBA is one-and-done. Also, the NFL already has a lockdown on pretty much all their licensing; athletes cannot sign with a rival to whoever the NFL’s official sponsor for that product already is.
So, all the apparel money is in basketball.
What’s interesting is that, this year, there has been a significant slump in the sales of the kind of basketball shoes that we’re talking about. Nike has been hit hard by it. Adidas, on the other hand, has been flourishing. For example, this was just last week:
So, yeah, we now may know why, partly.