Although 13-year-old pitching phenom Mo’Ne Davis has been eliminated from the Little League World Series, her legacy as the first female Little Leaguer to pitch a shutout remains. And though some may write off her Sports Illustrated cover appearance as a particularly high-profile fifteen minutes of fame, Davis’ astounding athletic ability and her desire to play college basketball suggest that she may have a place on the sports landscape going forward.
But thirteen is a very young age to take such a spotlight, and one issue raised by Davis’ Little League stardom was the selling of merchandise she had used and autographed. Fans lined up for a chance to meet Davis before her final Little League World Series game, and she gladly signed many autographs and items. With her signed items going for sky-high prices—a baseball she signed sold for $510 on eBay this week—some have wondered whether or not such young players should try to cash in on early fame.
Brandon Steiner, owner of prominent sports memorabilia company Steiner Sports, said that he would gladly pay Davis upwards of $25,000 to sign a large number of autographs, and that he could turn in a $100,000 profit on such a deal. Steiner noted that he would never pursue such a deal, as it would jeopardize Davis’ amateur status and her eligibility to play college sports.
Some have questioned the ethics of autograph seekers profiting off of items signed by a teenager who is not in a position to make money from her own talents. Steve Keener, current CEO of Little League, Inc., thought the resales of Davis’ autographed items were getting out of hand. “I think it’s ridiculous,” Keener said. “That’s absurd. But I don’t know how you would ever control it.”
Amateur status and NCAA eligibility, however, may be due for a shakeup soon. After the long-awaited ruling on Ed O’Bannon’s lawsuit against the NCAA, it is unclear whether or not accepting money or endorsements for athletic ability will cost young athletes their amateur status, and thus their ability to play NCAA sports. But for the meantime, some ethical gray area remains. Whatever field she goes into, Mo’Ne Davis clearly has the drive to succeed, star power aside!
The Little League World Series may have ended, but summer is the best time to practice batting out in the sun. Not all of us are taking practice swings from Mo’Ne Davis, but with a Wheelhouse batting cage, you can take in pitches of any speed and you won’t have to chase after the ball afterward. Check out our options today!