With such a quick and sudden evolution to college athletics, it's no surprise that player compensation for name, image and likeness hasn't been well received by all fans.

It's doubly difficult to take in when controversial subjects such as Barstool Athletics's possible connection with gambling or a University of Miami booster ensuring every football player sees some form of compensation takes the forefront of the news cycle. Through two weeks of the open NIL landscape, the college sports world has seen its fair share of negative outcomes.

But the true purpose of NIL compensation is not to stir controversy. Hell, it's barely about paying the athletes for certain circles of supporters. For that side of the aisle, it's about the opportunity to show that these athletes are human.

We all know Alabama's ace pitcher Montana Fouts is one of the best in the circle on the entire planet. There's no questioning her skill as an athlete. Her stats and accolades are more than enough to back up an argument against her peers and for her squad's chances on the national scene next year.

But that's just Fouts the pitcher. Sure, if you've followed Fouts on Twitter, Instagram or TikTok over the past three years, you know she has a bubbly personality and an affinity for cowgirl hats. Her personality endears her to the Crimson Tide fan base just as much as her lethal rise ball.

But now, with NIL restrictions being lifted, Fouts has been able to quickly establish a tangible connection with her fans and in doing so, shows that there's more to NIL than just money.

Sure, it costs $55 to get a Cameo from Fouts. And yeah, it costs money to buy a t-shirt with her new logo on it. Welcome to America, she's earned the right to fame and profit.

But a price can't be placed on the smile of a child hearing happy birthday from her favorite athlete.

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A price can't be placed on aspiring pitchers learning the craft from a role model like Fouts in person.

Talk about influencing the sport of softball and seizing the opportunity to build relationships and welcome the next generation of softball players and fans.

Two weeks ago, none of this was possible. And within two weeks and over the next several years all the focus has been and will be pointed at the negative and worrisome aspects the new rules bring to the table.

But these are the types of opportunities not afforded to previous generations.

Many believe, with some good reason, that NIL can damage collegiate sports.

Athletes like Montana Fouts show that NIL can help build even more meaning to the sports world. With a bit more positivity and growing opportunities and ideas yet to come, the future of college athletics may just benefit in a way we can't yet comprehend.

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