Question: If someone were looking to become and agent, or look to work on managementâ€™s side of the table, what are the key things they should focus on? Should they focus on contract law? Going over the Uniform Player Contract, what have you?
Smith: I frankly donâ€™t think itâ€™s that much of a legal exercise. It gets down to the ability to communicateâ€”to people skills. A lot of it is salesmanship. Frankly, when an agent is trying to sell his playerâ€”trying to sell his clientâ€”we have to recognize that at some point an agent is in negotiating with a club and be in a somewhat adversarial relationship, and the next day calling the same club trying to find a job for one of his guys. So, itâ€™s not as confrontational as it used to be. Itâ€™s really gets down to your skills as a communicator and your skills at being a negotiator, and the ability to understand your position, but also the other guyâ€™s position. Thatâ€™s the only way youâ€™re going to be able to strike a deal. If youâ€™re going to be hard-line about everything youâ€™re going to have a hard time. It gets down to leverage. And sometimes when an agentâ€™s got leverage because heâ€™s got a great player and heâ€™s a free agent, or on the verge of becoming a free agent, obviously, heâ€™s kind of in control of the situation. But, he also has to serve his clientâ€™s best interest too, and itâ€™s not always top dollar.
As far as preparation and training for an individual looking to get into the business, I donâ€™t know if there really is anything. Obviously, you need to have somewhat of an understanding of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, but yet, frankly, there are a lot of agents and management personnel that arenâ€™t particularly well versed in those areas. If they run into a problem thereâ€™s always the Commissionerâ€™s Office or the Players Association to straighten them out.
Well I was finally able to get through both of the articles that I posted on a couple of days ago (I just started up Spring semester…exciting). I feel that this statement is by far the most relevant to all readers of this blog. I have received numerous e-mails asking me “what should we be doing now to become a Sports Agent?” I think that Tal Smith answers this question very well. The one thing that I will add (though I am no smarter than anyone else) is that while it is a must to be a great communicator and have good people skills, I think that in such a competitive industry, it is vital to bring something to the table that no one else does. As with anything else in this day and age, what was good yesterday is no longer good today. Items and people are constantly getting smarter and better at what they do. So no matter what it is that you can bring to the table, do it at the very best, and if you can, try to re-invent this business. That’s my shpiel(sp?) for the night.
Once again, the actual Hardball Times article may be read here
[tags]sports agent, business, tal smith, baseball[/tags]