Fair Game: Ethical Considerations in Negotiation by Sports Agents
Last thing many sports agents want to hear/discuss are issues relating to regulatory laws/rules and ethical guidelines that bound our industry. However, it is important to be aware that such laws/rules exist and to consider them when deciding a certain course of action.
Yesterday, I was able to speak briefly with Melissa Neiman, author of Fair Game: Ethical Considerations in Negotiation by Sports Agents. While I have not been able to read the paper yet, I am under the impression that is a short and easy read. I hope to get through it this long weekend and hopefully have some items to discuss next week. For now, I suggest that you read it along with me.
Here is the introductory paragraph to Ms. Neiman’s article:
Over the past several decades the sports agent has emerged as an increasingly important figure in the negotiation of contracts for professional athletes. Although agents may have varying backgrounds, attorneys now comprise more than 50% of all agents representing professional athletes. This paper will focus on the attorney as sports agent. The agent is subject to regulation by the federal government, some state governments and the players associations. In discussing the role of the players associations the National Football League Players Association (“NFLPA”) will be focused on for exemplary purposes although other associations will be mentioned.
The agent is also bound by the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (“MRPC”) which include regulations regarding conflicts of interest and fees. Concurrent conflicts of interest may occur when an agent represents several athletes on one team or simultaneously represents athletes as well as coaches or management personnel.These conflicts are magnified in leagues in which an overall team salary cap exists. Careful examination of these conflicts and application of the MRPC clearly shows that the conflicts are unlikely to be resolved even with the athlete’s express informed consent.
There are also ethical considerations regarding agents’ fees, particularly when they are based on a percentage of the value of the contract negotiated by the agent. Arguably, these fees are not reasonable under the MRPC. Uniform rules should be established by players associations to identify conflicts of interest and prevent their occurrence. With regulations in place, ethical concerns in the negotiation process will be reduced so that the athletes’ interests are more exclusively served by the agent. (footnotes taken out for this post)
If you are interested in visiting Melissa Neiman’s personal website, you may do so by clicking here. Melissa is an M.D. and a J.D., which is a scary thought considering that I am in my second week of law school and already love the reading… (note sarcasm)