In this blog I will be visiting the role that a sports agent plays in the relationship between an athlete and a management company, at all levels. The sports agent of an athlete is one who works behind the scenes of all the athletics to make sure, to the best of their ability, that the athlete’s experience at the professional level is going well. The sports agent is so important because they are professionals at understanding and deciphering the opportunities and potential contracts that reach the athlete. After reading this the hope is that the role and duties of the sports agent are understood and respected, also allowing those interested in this field to understand the responsibilities within this field of work.
Sports Agency can be dated back to 1925, with the case of Red Grange and his agent. Red Grange was a great upcoming football player and had hired an agent to discuss and negotiate his contracts with the teams that he could potentially play for, leading him to be the first team playing athlete that was payed based off the number of fans that his talent brought to the games. Later, in the 1960s Mack McCormack, an attorney, did a lot of work with a young Arnold Palmer handling all his endorsement contracts with many companies. This led to the refreshing drink of the half-and-half, iced tea and lemonade, that we call the Arnold Palmer. Many brands like Arizona tea and Snapple even still sell this to this day. McCormack later created his International Management Group (IMG) which facilitated a lot of athlete’s experiences with negotiating and accepting contracts with professional teams, sports brands, energy drink brands, and everything I between. McCormack took his talents into many other sports following golf, he helped in tennis and soccer worldwide including in China and down into Brazil. He was known for keeping his clients happy, relevant, and well-paid. Mack was the epitome of a great sports agent, and others to follow do their best to mimic the way he went about his work.
Specifying the Duties of a Sports Agent
Early on, degrees weren’t required for sports agents because the main focus was the natural talent of negotiating, maintaining tough skin, and obtaining the street smarts to make sure your athlete is being take care of and not advantage of. Nowadays though, sports management companies are requiring their applicants to have a 4-year degree, hopefully in business, management, and kinesiology as well as a law degree. It is important to have these accolades, as a rising sports agent, so you can maintain your professionalism out in the field when searching for clients.
Recruitment of Athletes
When it comes to being a sports agent, your relevance in the field holds strongly on the talent and work that your athlete produces. In no way am I saying that you should only be in this for yourself and find the most profitable athlete, no, the best way to go about finding an athlete is obviously one with talent but one that also has high goals. An intelligent athlete with big goals and who is also relatable is a great find, allowing for a solid base to build a good, healthy relationship. Most strong agents will have a group of different athletes, somewhat a team of their own, that they will manage. Some of these will be in different sports, which is good because it will be build your network and maintaining a solid network is pivotal as a sports agent.
This is where a law degree or some type of credible past of understanding contracts come in to play. The main reason athletes look to hire sports agents is for them to handle all the legal stuff that comes with being a professional athlete whether it contracts with a team or an endorsement contract with any brand. When looking through contracts, like I discuss in another blog, it is most important to look intently at the contract to make sure that your athlete isn’t being taken advantage of in any way shape or form. It is important to focus sections of the contract such as Definitions, Grant and Protection of Endorsement Rights, Appearances, Special Rights of Termination, and finally Compensation. If you as the agent can focus on if these pivotal sections, among others, benefit your athlete, contract negotiations will go much smoother for both parties.
Image Management/ Public Relations
Managing your athletes image is very important in the money your athlete can make, ultimately decreasing the amount of money you will make. This is why it is good to recruit an athlete with a good head on their shoulders, and if that isn’t possible that in it would be smart to ameliorate their image and attitude immediately. Most brands wont affiliate themselves with a player that is shown in a bad light by the media. This will only lower their profits which they have no need to risk. Now, if you have a long-time client who already has a few different deals and contracts under their belt and they happen to get into a negative situation, you, the agent must deal with the management of the teams and/or brands in attempt to down play whatever the controversy is, in hopes to keep their athletes deals.
From this blog post, my hope is that I reached two audiences here. The first being the actual sports agent or an individual looking to get into this field. You should have learned the role that the sports agent plays in a player-agent relationship as well as how to go about finding and recruiting your athlete. The other audience being the athlete themselves. This blog should’ve helped you determine what to look for in an agent or if your agent is playing the correct role and making the right decisions for you and your future. If you’re looking to get in this field, after reading this, I encourage you do more research o the field of work and look into some internships. Hopefully this helped you in deciding on whether you would like to take on role in this field of work.
Angst, Frank. “How to Become a Sports Agent.” The Balance Careers, The Balance Careers, www.thebalancecareers.com/job-profile-sports-agent-3113312.
“The History of Athlete Endorsements: Part One.” Opendorse, 8 Dec. 2015, opendorse.com/blog/athlete-endorsement-history/.
Steinberg, Leigh. “How To Be A Great Sports Agent--Contract Negotiations.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 11 July 2016, www.forbes.com/sites/leighsteinberg/2016/07/11/how-to-be-a-great-sports-agent-contract-negotiations/.
US Legal, Inc. “USLegal.” Sports Law, sportslaw.uslegal.com/sports-agents-and-contracts/sports-agents-history-and-law/.