The players at Nike’s The Opening get a huge amount of free gear. Helmets, jerseys, T-shirts, shoes, tights and more. And it’s not just a one-time thing. Each day, the athletes return to their rooms to find new gear specific to that day’s events.
The swag is worth roughly $1,000 retail, said Nicole Taylor of Position Sports, which is helping to coordinate The Opening.
But like everything in life, there’s a catch. Not all the athletes will be able to take it all home.
Some states, such as Alabama, New Jersey, Michigan and Ohio put strict limits on how much free gear players can receive at an event. Others, such as North Carolina or Texas, have no such limits.
Kentucky players are limited to $300. Pennsylvania players can take home $1,500 worth of free stuff while Alabama limits players to $50 in free merchandise, which wouldn’t pay for a pair of Nike cleats. Players from New Jersey can’t accept any the free gear.
Players selected for The Opening are given lists of the free equipment they will receive, along with each item’s retail value, so they can figure out what they want to keep. The athletic directors from players’ high schools are given a copy of the list as well to help ADs ensure compliance with various state high school association rules.
“In Texas, you can keep everything and my favorite thing here is the helmet,” Allen offensive lineman Greg Little said. “I’m probably going to use it this season.”
When a player has to return gear, representatives from Nike clean the materials and box them up. If a player then wants to purchase it, they can do so. That’s the case for Paramus Catholic (Paramus, N.J.) defensive lineman Rashan Gary.
“I want to get Rashan one of his jerseys so he can have it,” said his mother, Jennifer Coney.
The amount of free stuff was overwhelming to South Caldwell (Hudson, N.C.) offensive lineman Landon Dickerson.
“I’ve never had an opportunity like this to receive stuff,” Dickerson said. “I think it’s so nice to receive this stuff, though I’m not sure these cleats would go with anything I have back home.”