Sports Agent Interview:
with Matthew Vuckovich
Matt Sosnick is a 38-year-old sports agent who is a partner of the baseball agency, Sosnick and Cobbe Sports (www.sosnickcobbesports.com). Mr. Sosnick is what you would call a self-made sports agent. He entered this industry with little prior knowledge and has made a name for himself in the sports agent world. One of his biggest clients is Florida Marlins pitcher, Dontrelle Willis. Dontrelle showed his life long loyalty when he got the Sosnick and Cobbe logo tattooed on his shoulder. He even had ESPN write a book about his life titled, License to Deal. He runs his agency with his partner Paul Cobbe. This duo has been known to be the good guys in this rough business. I was able to talk with Mr. Sosnick while he was in the airport getting ready to fly out to meet some clients. This was his story about how he made himself into a sports agent.
Matthew Vuckovich: How did you get started in this industry?
Matt Sosnick: Being a sports agent was something I always wanted to do. I was not an attorney and I had no prior experience. I found one person to represent who was a minor league player in Triple A and that’s how I got started in this industry 10 years ago.
Matthew Vuckovich: Did you attend law school or grad school? If so, which law school or grad school?
Matt Sosnick: I did not attend grad school or law school but I still felt that I had the knowledge to make it in this industry.
Matthew Vuckovich: Who was your first client (year, sport), and how did you recruit him?
Matt Sosnick: Lou Lucca was my first baseball client that I had. I had some connection with him because I knew his mother. I was fortunate to be able to be at the right place at the right time and I was able to land him to my agency.
Matthew Vuckovich: How did you handle your first contract negotiation?
Matt Sosnick: As for as an agent I consider myself as a pretty mellow guy. I deal with contracts and negations from an honest direction when I pick a number. I don‘t just pick a high ball number but instead I try to be more respectful and authentic to the clubs.
Matthew Vuckovich: What is the most important aspect of being a sports agent?
Matt Sosnick: To be perceived with loyalty and dedication to your clients. You have to be honest with each one of your clients and tell them what they need to hear instead of what they want to hear. This is a tough business but if you are loyal and honest to your clients and work hard then you would hope that they remain happy.
Matthew Vuckovich: At what age do you feel an agent with hit his prime/glory years? Why?
Matt Sosnick: I think around the age of 45 because it gives professional athletes a chance to mature. If you’re an agent and you start in your mid 30’s you will have guys that start to become free agents particularly in baseball. The ability to help mentor and guide your clients will make a different in keeping them happy.
Matthew Vuckovich: What is your opinion of larger agencies with less attention to their clients compared to smaller agencies who counsel more with their clients?
Matt Sosnick: I think that it again all comes down to experience in this industry and what will be gained or lost when choosing a particular agency. There are some people with personalities that will want to be working with big agencies and there are some people that will want to work with smaller agencies. It all depends on the likes of that agent and athlete.
Matthew Vuckovich: Where do you see the athlete representation industry going in 10 years?
Matt Sosnick: I think your going to find way fewer agents and a lot of firms acquiring other firms to make them bigger as a whole. I don’t think that young agents will be able to afford to get into the industry. I think that people evaluate this business as to how clients are being served. I think that ultimately if a clients needs are being served then great, but if there is one small thing that is not getting done that you are going to run into some problems.
Matthew Vuckovich: Take our readers through a typical day in your life.
Matt Sosnick: If I’m dealing with my pitchers I will be looking at the match-ups for the day and figure out who is in need of anything. I will return phone calls from owners, parents or family members or guys with equipment issues. I will talk to guys on the East Coast around 8pm pacific time and then I will call the guys on the West Coast right after.
Matthew Vuckovich: What advice do you have for people looking to break into the industry?
Matt Sosnick: Don’t do it. There is very little room for opportunity and you really need to have it within yourself if you want to make it in this industry. This industry is not for everyone out there.
Matthew Vuckovich: Does your agency provide internships for people looking to break into the industry?
Matt Sosnick: Yes, we do and we get about 5,000 or plus applicants a year looking for a summer internship for either 0-2 spots. We book our summer internships 3 years in advance unlike most agencies.
Matthew Vuckovich: If you could do one thing to renovate the Sports Agent industry, what would it be and how would you go about accomplishing that goal?
Matt Sosnick: I would be doing what I am doing right now. I spent some years working with nothing and just trying to get into this industry. I was able to catch a break and ESPN wrote a book about my life. I got some good publicity with that. I have just been fortunate and I don’t think that the world owes me anything. I have caught some tough breaks in he beginning but stuff comes around in full circle. The guys that I represent are good guys and I enjoy everything about that guys that have come on board with me. We have been able to form personal relationships and that’s the best part about this job. I think the fact that any player can be stolen at any time is totally unregulated and I would like to see it more regulated in this industry.
Matthew Vuckovich: What are some of the things an agent can offer their clients besides the negotiation of contracts, getting endorsements, and others along those lines?
Matt Sosnick: I think that personal advice is a huge factor that an agent can offer a client. When a client is struggling either on the field or with family problems I think that their agent can step up and talk with them and try to make sense of what’s going on and offer advice.
Matthew Vuckovich: What drives you to represent professional baseball players?
Matt Sosnick: When I decided to break into this industry, I had no knowledge of how things worked. I realized that I needed to get into an industry at first where there was a bigger group to choose from. If you go into basketball, you only have about 30 guys to choose from, which makes the competition that much harder. Baseball seemed to me like the most reasonable opportunity for me to break into.
Matthew Vuckovich: How has being a former CEO helped you in dealing with any issues your clients may have?
Matt Sosnick: In terms of shaping as a big business, it has helped my clients. It has allowed me in the past to get an overall sense of how things should intersect and how things should work together. It has given me the chance to see that everything has a meaning in itself.
Matthew Vuckovich: What has the impact of your book, License to Deal, meant to future agents and the athlete representation industry?
Matt Sosnick: I don’t think that it really has had an impact on the industry as a whole. I think that when people read it they get a fair representation of my strengths and weaknesses as a sports agent in this industry.
Matthew Vuckovich: You’re known as a good guy in the agent world. How do agents like you survive in the shark infested waters of the athlete representation industry?
Matt Sosnick: You have to have faith in the guys who are the most talented to be loyal also. I think that you need to balance your positives and negatives. In my case, I have caught some breaks and my partner Paul and I have work very hard as well. I don’t think that there is any else out there in the last 10-15 years that has said “I want to be a sports agent” with no prior knowledge and without going to law school that has actually done it. We have potentially 20 all-stars each year. With that being said, it has taken a long time and we did not start making money until our 9th year.
Matthew Vuckovich: On behalf of SportsAgentBlog.com and all of our readers, I would like to thank Matt Sosnick for sharing his knowledge and experiences with us today. You can check out his website at SOSNICKCOBBESPORTS.com. Till next time, be safe and act ethically in the business that you love.