Travis BallAP LiteratureMrs. CorbettFall 2011 Sports Agent Senior Project The typical dream of a child growing up to be professional athlete often guides peopleaway from sports as a profession in total for the reason that their parents and peers are constantlytelling them it is an unreachable goal. This actually is not true at all. People can find some of thefastest growing industries in the athletic world. By creating monetary possibilities and protectingathlete’s assets, sports agents provide a needed task as they also provide other worldly insightsfor these young people. The first step into the world of sports agents is schooling after high school. College iswhere these young people striving to become agents receive the knowledge that will setthemselves up for years to come. Knowing that so few agents are truly successful, you have to bethe best qualified. Although not required, it is viewed well by others if the person has a degree ina field such as business, marketing, sports management, or sports/tax law. Each one helping inareas that will be needed to support the clients with whom the agents come in contact. Manypeople seeking to become an agent take the course of having a law degree. “Is it necessary? Notreally. But it is an asset, both practically and from a presentation standpoint. Practically itcertainly helps when you are negotiating contracts. From a presentation standpoint a clientalways knows that if they get themselves in trouble, they can call me I can handle it. It becomesa one-stop shop” (Tampico). Joe Tampico is a well known lawyer and sports agent. He believesthat the law degree gives him an added quality that steers clients in his direction. His courtroom
expertise helps his clients if they get into legal troubles, monetary disputes, and anything in-between. The more resources an agent has to offer, the more clients the agent will sign. Theassets of the agent can eventually equal profit for the agent, as well as the client, which canincline almost any athlete toward a certain agent’s business. Becoming a sports agent can be one of the hardest, yet rewarding industries to get in to.There are the highs in the industry such as the pay. “Generally, a successful agent can expect toearn in-between $150 to $600 an hour, after subtracting dues owed to his or her agency”(Devantier and Turkington 73). This pay is one incentive for getting into the industry, but theseaspiring agents will never make the high end of this spectrum without knowing the right peopleto start their career. While in college, many hopeful sports agents do internships with localcorporations to get a foot in the door. Through this process, skills needed to thrive and possiblystart their own business will be learned by the students. Many agents of today say that this is howthey first got started in the business of sports agency. It gives the agents their first exposure tothe life of sports agency. This will not automatically make you successful on the other hand.Many people will get easily discouraged when immediate success does not happen. “Don’t takeno for an answer. You must be persistent and do whatever it takes to find your point of entry”(Slough). Mark Slough speaks of his tribulations trying to become a successful agent. Agentswill have to stay strong to ever make it in the cut-throat industry. It is a business in which only afew corporations manage almost everyone in athletics. “The sports agent’s primary duties consistof negotiating contracts and finding endorsements for his or her clients. Contract negotiationsrequire great communication skills on the part of the sports agent” (Ferguson Publishing 71).These duties come with a huge responsibility for the athlete’s financial and a lively well-being.The relationships built during the negotiating period are very gratifying, yet cause many
problems. Many people realize the job is not for them as agents will work long hours especiallyduring negotiating times and may put a strain on family life. Another tough aspect of the industry is the demanding travel schedule for agents. The jobdemands agents to fly to many cities all over the country to negotiate contracts with clients,negotiate clients’ contracts with teams, and to do endorsement deals. Though some take thetravel as a rough patch many find it as a relief knowing that they have no idea what they will bedoing the next day. The daily change exhilarates people in a day where sitting in a cubical is thenormality. “There is no such thing as a typical day in my life; everyday is different. I travel about50% of the time and when I’m in the office everyday it’s different” (Steinberg). MarkSteinberg’s travel patterns are no different than most. The time away from his office is a definitewith the contract negotiations, but everyday life in the office differs as well. No same personcalls about every client and not every client calls every day. Agents must be on their toes at alltimes and ready for traveling or anything else unexpected. Teams only offer contracts for so longand these contracts need to be acted upon swiftly. Within all the madness of the career it is a key that agents find time to create a personalbond between themselves, the client, and the client’s loved ones. Agents who care about thepeople held dearest to the athletes are the agents that represent the most clients and who get thehigher cuts of players’ contracts. “You should care about your clients in their professional livesas well as their personal lives. I’ve seen too many agents not care about the sport and the kidsthat play it” (Kauffman). Steve Kauffman understands what it takes to thrive in the industry for along period of time. Caring for your clients is a key to both the athlete’s and the agent’s success.The trust earned by the agent lets the client know that his or her best interests are always on the
agent’s mind. With this trust, unlimited endorsement deals and financial possibilities areavailable. Habitually agents will earn the ever so valuable trust by fighting for the betterment of thewell-being of their client’s health. The health of the clients is almost as vital to the agent as istheir own personal health. If no client is under contract with the corporation, no money or respectwill be earned by the agent. Agents fight to get regulations passed in the leagues that their clientsplay in to protect their health. This refers to such things as the new helmet to helmet contact rulein the NFL. Though it should be obvious that agents want their athletes at full strength, this stillcreates a sense of protection created by the agent over the athlete in a world where athletes aregetting seriously injured on the playing field. “Every Sunday has been like an episode of ER.There are times that I think I should have gone to Med School instead of Law School”(Steinberg). It is a disheartening sight when a player lays unconscious and motionless on thefield. Most agents are making it their responsibility to help stop the horrific accidents from everhappening. The longer the athlete plays, the longer both the agent and the athlete make money.Though money is a key in the whole business as it is in almost any industry, money can also getagents into trouble. With the role of being named a sports agent, comes the responsibility of following rulesfor recruiting college athletes for the agent’s representation. These rules get many agents in a tonof trouble when they violate them. One agent who has had a mishap when it comes to recruitinga college athlete is Marlon Sullivan. Sullivan, who was once in the news for having his NFLPAContract Advisor license suspended for six months after it was found that one of his employeesgave money to a former college football player. (Sullivan) Athletes who have not stated that they
are no longer in collegiate sports are not allowed to take any incentives whatsoever. This isthought of as illegally convincing a possibly young, poor athlete to come to their agency becausethey bought them a new car or luxury item in college. “Almost all incentives in big-time collegesports point to cheating” (Davis and Shropshire 73). All found incentives given to collegiateathletes will get an agent suspended or even banned from the business if it is a repeat offense ordepending upon the severity of the offense. When an agent gets his or her license suspended, itcompletely ruins their business. They have no way to make money because their clients are lostand in some instances will never come back. Something that many agents try to follow is a codeof ethics. Following this code will almost always prevent the agent from doing something he orshe will regret in the future. If you decide to get a law degree as well to boost your likelihoodthat you get a client, that leads to an even harsher code of ethics. “Licensed lawyers whorepresent professional athletes may actually be at a disadvantage to non-lawyer agents when itcomes to recruiting clients” (Epstein 15). Lawyers are responsible for telling authorities if aclient has done something illegal, which is different from an agent who cannot disclose certaininformation without being allowed by the client. This can often put a strain on the relationship ifthe agent is required by law to tell of a certain incident that if the athlete had a choice would notwhat to go public, so not all client-to-agent interaction is productive. The business of sports agents is a very diverse industry that has many aspects whichmust be planned for and respected to do well, which is why it is such an interesting career path.It is an industry that is rapidly expanding with the development of so many professional sports.Every athlete needs an agent and there will be many suitors for each of these clients. It makes fora competitive business in which much traveling and hard work will be needed to succeed. Many
will never make it, but if the aspiring agent gets in to the right college courses and finds a goodmentor-like figure they will be able to go a long ways.
Works CitedDavis, Timothy, and Kenneth L Shropshire. The Business of Sports Agents. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 2008. Google Books. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://books.google.com/ books?id=uC2Lq8aTKhIC&printsec=frontcover&dq=%22sports+agent%22&hl=en&ei= HESOTqPGNaLZ0QGt5fUu&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDo Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22sports%20agent%22&f=false>.Devantier, Alecia T, and Carol A Turkington. Extraordinary Jobs in Sports. New York: Infobase, 2007. Print. Extraordinary Jobs.Epstein, Adam. Sports Law. Clifton Park: Delmar Learning, 2003. Google Books. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http:///books.google.com/ books?id=WrH89Nm0tbUC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false>.Ferguson Publishing. Ferguson’s Careers in Focus: Sports. 4th ed. New York: Infobase , 2008. Print. Ferguson’s Careers in Focus.Kauffman, Steve. “Steve Kauffman.” Interview by Sports Agent Blog. Sports Agent Blog. N.p., 2011. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://www.sportsagentblog.com/interview-with-the-agent/ steve-kauffman/>.Slough, Mark. “Mark Slough.” Interview by Richard Kimsey. Sports Agent Blog. N.p., 2011. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://www.sportsagentblog.com/interview-with-the-agent/mark- slough/>.Steinberg, Leigh. “Leigh Steinberg.” Interview by Sports Agent Blog. Sports Agent Blog. N.p., 2011. Web. 15 Nov. 2011. <http://www.sportsagentblog.com/interview-with-the-agent/ leigh-steinberg/>.