The fight for inclusion and equality in sports has been a long and ongoing battle. In recent years, the participation of transgender athletes at the professional level has been one of the most contentious issues. Even as countries like the US have made strides to advance equality for transgendered people, the world of athletics has struggled to find a way of allowing trans athletes to participate while assuaging claims of unfairness and safety concerns. With their decision to ban all trans athletes from participating in women’s sports, World Athletics – which governs track and field worldwide – has once again brought this hotly debated issue to the forefront. The decision has raised questions about the future of transgender athletes in sports and highlights the ongoing challenges they face in achieving full inclusion and equality.
On June 29, 2021, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law that allows collegiate student-athletes to hire agents and sign endorsement deals effective as of July 1, 2021. This bill puts Illinois among a number of states which have begun to pass legislation allowing student-athletes to receive payment for the use of their name, image, and likeness (“NIL”). While these laws open opportunities for student-athletes, they also present several potential challenges to the NCAA, the governing body for collegiate athletics in the United States, and its member institutions barring any Congressional assistance.