Oct
01

What Would You Do…? (#2)

Now, for my second post for the column. Lets say that you have been knocking down the doors of multiple agents to land your first internship in the field. You send out hundreds of resumes, make tons of calls, and go through the painstaking process. Finally, you catch a break and end up lining up that dream internship you have been so eagerly anticipating.

For the first couple of weeks, you are full of energy and enthusiasm. But that spunk begins to die down as you realize that this internship is really just a facade. You begin to face the harsh fact that obtaining real exposure is a lofty goal that is hard to come by in this business. While Agent X in the office appears to be there to help you, he actually is keeping you at arms length.

Agent X is fearful of having his trade secrets stolen and used against him one day. As a result, most of the questions you ask him about the recruiting process and agent business are not answered and politely deflected. For example, you ask Agent X, how much he pays for his scouting reports and whom does he get them from? He responds by saying I can’t tell you that sort of stuff because it is proprietary information. Even worse, he has not allowed you to talk to any of his current clients on the phone and has yet to invite you into his office when he makes recruiting calls.

At this point in the game, you really feel that you are just wasting your time and not really learning anything of value. In other words, you are just an intern that works on projects that simply do not reveal anything about the business to you. Instead of capitulating and treating this internship as another line on your resume, you decide to take things into your own hands.

One day you decide to take the recruiting list of prospects that you have been compiling and bring it home. You start making calls on the side of the internship. After the first string of calls, you get an athlete on the phone and represent that you are calling on behalf of Agent X. The conversation goes real well and Player A tells you to call again to chat some more. As time goes by, you establish a great relationship with this player, but you never disclosed the fact that you contacted this player to Agent X. The internship comes to an end right as the signing season starts. You have continued to keep in touch with Player A and he eventually tells you that he is leaning toward signing with you and Agent X.

Do you approach Agent X and tell him about this unauthorized recruit or do you take the player for yourself and start your own agency?

What would you do…?

-Matthew Allinson

  • LW

    Player A has stated he’s leaning towards you AND Agent X, not you. Nothing says he’s going to hand his professional future over to a rookie so easily, perhaps a rookie agent and Agent X. Agent X needs to play some form in this, I wouldn’t go as far as handing him over…but perhaps a full-time job or some sort of deal can be reached between you and Agent X that delivers Player A while keeping you on as an adviser to all the dealings. As long as you stay in the loop and the player makes it known he wants you involved can’t see how it can go wrong.

    If it was certainly Player A would still be leaning toward signing with you if you did start your own agency things would be different. Also depends just how good Player A is, where he’s projected, what his expectations are. What sport he’s playing even, as an NBA rookie contract is a whole lot easier than an NFL rookie contract.

  • zak

    its morally wrong thing to steal this guys list and then develop a relationship with his player. The player will probably like you more because you care more than the super busy agent, but i would not do this. you dont want to break into this business and start your career with an enemy. Reading the first 4 paragraphs makes me laugh inside. I have had a very interesting summer in searching for that internship. I have some had some humbling experiences in dealing with some prominent agents. Some stories that I will never forget. The truth is, nobody wants to have an intern that is really good because in time, that agent will eventually leave the agent and then compete with the agent for the same players. Agents have been viewing me as a threat and even though I am qualified for such a position, I have been lied to and misled by two agents now. You just have to keep pushing and know that if you have what it takes, your opportunity will come.

  • http://sportsagentblog.com Chris Lesley

    Yeah, I’d tell him, but in a way that doesnt make you seem like a client stealing intern. Mention to Agent X that this rookie called and is really interested in signing with them. You need to keep the position of power in your hands though. You basically need to convince the client and the agent that you are needed in the deal, and thats the tricky part.

  • http://sportsagentblog.com Jason Wulterkens

    One thought: that recruiting list could be construed as a trade secret (even if the intern never signed any kind of non disclosure agreement, it could be deemed implied or something of the like) and the Agent would have grounds to sue. Whether or not he would is another story.

  • Ak47

    This post is quite similar to the situation that I have been involved in over the past year and a half. I have aspired to be a sports agent ever since I could remember.

    During my junior year of undergraduate work at the University of Florida I established a relationship with a sports agency. I worked for them until the end of my second year of law school (this past May). I was fed up with everything because there was no room for me to grow and decided to start my own sports agency. I felt that there was no future for me at this agency, the company had a “virtual” office and the extent of my job was doing paper work and compiling recruiting lists.

    The whole reason I contacted this firm in the first place was not only to gain valuable experience, but because I have many friends who are DI athletes and will be taking that next step towards the professional league. I wanted to guide them with the experience of a professional firm and watch and learn as the process went on.

    Truthfully it would have turned out better if I had done the job myself. My first friend who was a stud DI athlete didn’t get drafted into the league he was supposed to and turned out to sour all relationships on all ends.

    The point I am trying to make is that if you are the intern and you establish a great relationship with a possible recruit, take him for yourself. If you have enough ambition, drive, anything can be accomplished.

    This game is a dirty one, some might call it unethical but there is no way that the agent will keep you around just for this athlete. He may give you the appearance that he will want you around but in all reality it his client not yours.

    Now I am able to watch over and guide my friends to make sure they can get where they want to be. I will never trust anyone with the future of my close friends, only myself.

    Yes take the internship and get as much experience as possible but when you feel your time is up, take all that experience and go get it yourself.

    “Everyday I’m Hustlin”

  • JC

    AK-47 shame on you… You’re why the business is foul. Now that i’ve got that out of the way…

    Although one could say this recruit was a product of your work, the intern put himself out as a representative for the agent, for better or for worse. The intern is actually just standing on the shoulders of the agent to land this guy. Yes, relationships mean something, but so does competency. With little knowledge of the business (stated that he learned little), intern is dooming himself and his client to failure. Now depending on if this client is the next lebron or not, this could help as leverage into the business. I’m betting the agent will be more open to sharing if there is a million dollar athlete you’ve opened the door for. Now would be a good time to expand in agent x’s agency. This could get you a job, or allow you to get in as a partner (all depends on the situation). As far as the agent holding back knowledge thing, plenty agents are tight-lipped about info with good reason. Just look around at the business. I have learned a ton by looking and learning, but I have been blessed to work at an agency where I am allowed to learn and not just do projects. But there is plenty to learn in doing those projects as well. Trust is earned through hard work and loyalty. Just because you’re an intern doesnt mean the vault opens. Paying dues makes sense because you can grow and learn from the ground up. I’d say use your relationship to solidify your role at the agency, and if not leave. If you mean that much to this recruit tell him your gone. If the recruit rolls with you, you didnt steal he left. But be ethical about it and dont try to steal any clients. Have some dignity. Maybe thats the future lawyer in me, but whatever.

  • zak

    Im surprised to hear that AK47. Indeed it is a tough business. I can relate. I had targeted an agent that i wanted to intern for, but he was so busy that his partner was in charge of hiring the interns. I was in contact with the partner, we talked on the phone a couple of times, he told me they were definately interested in me and that I would be a great asset to the their team. He scheduled to meet with me a couple of times but cancelled the night before or the day of or didnt bother to call. The last time we had planned to meet was in New York City at 3 o clock. I was there at 2:30, then I waited all the way until 7. I called the agent and asked if he was coming, he said he was in another state and might make it there that night. I drove home to watch my sister who was home alone. I was in bed at midnight when I got a text message from him that he would be in a club in the city for an hour, if I wanted to meet there. I briefly contemplated going in or not, then threw on my suit and drove down to the city for the second time that day. after cutting the line to get into the club, i called the agent and he informed me that there was a change in plans and that he was at a restuarant. it was 20 blocks away. I walked there and sat down as they were in the middle of dinner. he was there with his wife and two friends. He conducted the interview right there during dinner, which lasted two hours. He was direct and tough. Trying to intimidate me with some degrading questions/comments about my background and goals. He even threatened me if I ever stole one of his clients. I couldn’t believe it, I just wanted an internship! But I looked him in the eye the entire time and answered every question confidently. After a round of drinks we left dinner sometime after 2 in the morning and he said I was going to join the team, and that he would contact me about when to start. he never called. so i called him a week later and he told me that he would give me a start date that friday. well, thursday came around and he gave me a ridiculous assignment that required me to find his lost blackberry and keys, which were in washington D.C. I live in New York. I worked through thursday night into friday afternoon trying to locate the lost items, with no luck. then on friday he told me he would have to call me back about a start date. At that point I knew I would not be working for him.

  • AK47

    JC..

    Obviously you haven’t worked in this industry long enough to realize what I say is true.. Or did you read my post as it was in regard to a specific agency, who screwed up the dreams of my best friend…

    Good luck going out there working your ass for someone and see your best friend (also DI stud athlete) not get drafted because of some you “trusted” and wanted to be loyal too. I tried that route and it didn’t work..

    All to many times have I heard Zak and my story…

    The reason I started my own agency so scummy agents like the one I used to work for would never screw up someones professional dreams again.

  • zak

    thats honorable ak47. If you dont mind me asking, what is the name of your company and what sports do you represent athletes in? Also, is it possible to represent an NBA player without interning for an agent. Given that the rookie salaries are on a scale, and I have first hand experience with high profile players and they like me, what is the biggest thing I stand to gain from interning?
    I was in contact with another agent and he gave me a test of calling a player to see if I was nervous with him or not. I ended up talking to the player for 30 minutes and had a sheet of paper filled up with info about him, all about his playing experience, even the name of his baby girl. If I can develop repoire with players over the phone and in person, is the internship that necessary?
    Can I do it on my own as a law school student? I have friends that are D1 athletes looking to play at the next level.
    Thanks, I appreciate it

  • Ak47

    Zak,

    Since we are on a blog I don’t want to give out all my info.. But hit me up at hoops2233@gmail.com..

    I would like to talk to you further about somethings..

    ak47

  • JC

    AK47:
    1. been in the business long enough to know shade when I see it. You sound like the one that’s green if you took a player you ACTUALLY had a relationship with (your best friend) to some agent or agency if you thought it was BS? Live and learn but don’t hurt the game.

    2. As I stated I met an agent who has really been great as far as letting me into his world, because lord knows most will not. But you are not helping by clearly saying you’d gladly stab an agent, who gave you a chance, in the back (quote your post, “…if you are the intern and you establish a great relationship with a possible recruit, take him for yourself…”) Thats why the industry is so tight about interns, etc. You just proved the point of stealing clients.

    3. Your feelings about your friend and the agent may be misguided. What were the “experts” saying about him? Was he truly a “lock” or do you feel that way cuz he’s your boy? What was your role in helping your boy? You sat idly by and watched his future drift away? Maybe its time to look at your own actions.

    4. I work my tail off period, because in the end its about me doing the best I can for whoever I’m working with. Its all a learning experience. If you’re truly running your own biz, you telling me you dont have to WORK? Even if you have aspirations to do your own thing (i can’t pretend I dont), there is a better way to do it then steal clients. Be noble in the profession, not shady.

    5. You talk about “scummy agents?” What would you consider the moves you condone and tell others to do? thats not being a “scummy agent?”

    Your friends situation is a sad but not unique one. I’m glad you want to help him as best you can. But be honest about the situation you may have placed your pal in, and try to learn what he AND you did instead of pointing fingers, being bitter, and turning into the person in this industry NOBODY wants around. Darren, and all, is anyone feeling me?

  • http://sportsagentblog.com Darren

    I am thoroughly enjoying the ongoing conversation and did not want to intervene. But now that JC has summoned me, I guess I’ll add my own 2 cents.

    In the past 2 years, I have been in contact with over 30 young people who have had internships with various companies. The truth is that in most internships, Agent X in the office appears to be there to help you, while he actually is keeping you at arms length. Luckily, my internship was not like this (I was thrown into doing some real work on the first day). No matter what type of internship it may be, you NEVER have the right to steal clients from your employer. Plus, most agencies will have you sign documents clearly outlining the fact that there are company rules that disallow such activity.

    But forget about the illegalities for a second.

    1) You have to deal internally with the ethical issue of stealing clients from an employer who took a chance on you and gave you an edge in the industry by being kind enough to offer you an internship.
    2) You may cause Agent X to be very angered and news may spread across the industry, branding you as someone to look out for. Part of the goal of this site is to make such actions more publicized in order to weed out such behavior.
    3) You haven’t learned anything in your internship! Isn’t that the problem, anyway? They have kept you at arms length and you have not been able to get first-hand experience. How do you represent this big time client and others without knowing anything about the industry? You are bound to fail for this and other reasons mentioned above.

    Moving onto some of your comments:

    LW – I think you are missing the point. It does not matter if the player is a 1st overall pick or a non-drafted free agent signing. Either way, the wrong committed is the same.

    Chris Lesley – You hit the spot, kid. “I’d tell him, but in a way that doesn’t make you seem like a client stealing intern. Mention to Agent X that this rookie called and is really interested in signing with them. You need to keep the position of power in your hands though. You basically need to convince the client and the agent that you are needed in the deal, and thats the tricky part.”

    Jason – The agent would definitely sue if you (as the intern) have any money in your bank account.

    AK47 – You say, “The whole reason I contacted this firm in the first place was not only to gain valuable experience, but because I have many friends who are DI athletes and will be taking that next step towards the professional league. I wanted to guide them with the experience of a professional firm and watch and learn as the process went on.” You did not join the agency as an intern with the goal of stealing clients, so why change your initial intentions? If you have the ambition and drive to steal clients, anything CAN happen…including you being branded as scum throughout the business. I also feel for your situation, but the recourse is still not correct. It’s an old adage, but 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

    JC – I would not even go as far as to use the situation as leverage within the industry to move up and possibly get a job. YOU STOLE THE RECRUITING LIST and started making calls WITHOUT PERMISSION. You went behind your employer’s back no matter what way you look at it. Use the situation as leverage, and the employer will probably terminate your internship on the spot.

    zak – Your story is ridiculous. You should write a book…quite an interesting read. Sorry to hear about your terrible search for an internship. But let’s say you ended up interning for that person and the situation got no better. You still would not have a right to act in the way that the intern did in the hypothetical. You knew the situation you were getting into or should have done enough research to know.

    Most people have to take a lot of shit to get into this industry. The fact that you got an internship alone makes you lucky and gives you an edge over the 10,000 who can’t score internships each year. Complaining about being at arm’s length in an internship? I can’t wait to see this hypothetical intern once he/she enters the industry and really starts not getting what he/she wants.

  • Ak47

    JC

    My “boy” was supposed to be drafted and it was the experts saying it not me.. He played a sport where he broke the records of many people who are in the league he is supposed to be in right now.. Earning a high draft grade

    I did reflect and look at my own actions. Yes I do work my ass off and thats why i started my own agency so my friends will not be screwed in the future. I thought I was going to be involved with the process of seeing him through the initial recruiting period through draft time. But the agent did in fact keep me at “arms length”. This caused a ton of miscommunication and many party’s to become very unhappy..

    To make it clear I don’t think its ethical to “steal” players from an agency (and maybe I let my emotions lean away from the actual convo topic) but most of these agents aren’t that open to helping out young adults like us forgetting where they once came from. Obviously you and Darren got lucky and were able to secure internships with some good people. But the truth is MOST agents are not like that.

    When the time comes I will hire interns because that is how i started off and went through the learning process. But there is a point to where the learning curve stops and you have a fork in the road with 2 options 1) start your own agency or 2) continue to be the do boy for the agent not going anywhere.

    I rather take option one and let my dream come true and not wait around for someone else to make the dream come true for me..

    Sounds like you do have a good head on your shoulders and best of luck to your endevours in the future..

    AK47

  • Alec

    Something about “honor among thieves” is screaming in my brain at this point.

    What’s a recruiting list? Is there truly anything proprietary there? Guys who can play and their contact info?

    To quote Derrick Coleman, “whoop-de-god-damn-doo”.

    The only thing that I would do is try and be point man on bringing the potential client in houe at first.

    Recruiting people(in other words, selling yourself to potential clients) isn’t rocket science; you make your pitch, stay in contact early and once you get a response you reply in a timely manner. If you do this at a scale that you personally can manage, you’ll have enough business to go forward.

    That’s why I respect Scott Boras, that pool is waaay bigger than I could possibly imagine handling.

  • JC

    AK47 – Points well taken. I get a little hurt at folks trying to hurt the industry, but it seems like your friend was actually your recruit and client. I’d say I hope you’re trying to learn more everyday for the sake of your buddy’s career.

    On a side note – client stealing sucks. One example: Bill Neff, the person who used to be the agent for Matt Barnes of the warriors. After years of being his agent in the bad years (tons of trades, the ABA, etc.) he has a breakout season on a team his agent hooked him up with. He fires his agent (obviously stolen) and signs with a notoriously shade agent (Feagan — BTW if he’s not shade pardon my comment). Long story short he fires feagan and hires the goodwins (can’t go back to his original agent – burned bridge). Neff has now had to eat years of development (and tons of $) because of client tampering. Its a cold game.

    Darren – I’d have to say I back Alec’s comment above. After helping create a recruiting list, theres not much magical about it. The shade is the intent at the end. I have no problem with working on the agency’s behalf. As long as thats your intent. My comment on the situation mirrors Chris L’s. It is still a matter of leverage. Be it trying to not sound like a “client stealing intern” or not. You’re trying to get hired as more than intern by saying you are a vital part of landing this guy. Thats the way of any business – proving your worth. $$$ (or better yet potential $$$) talks.

    Alec – I feel you on your comments. Plus I got love for Boras cuz he’s alum of the law school I went to. Boras is hardcore. You cant knock his hustle as an agent. We’ve got to love him as agent types: hes not known as much of a shady type in the industry is he?

    I’m loving the talk on here, lets get some more “what would would you do?” talk going! Good luck in your endeavors all!

  • JC

    Oh and DH – the internship was over, so at the time of the egregious event, you could consider yourself “jobless.” Its now just a matter of principal, and again leverage.

  • zach aaronson

    interesting dilema, but one only too common. trying to keep this short, i would suggest making the most of this relationship you have with player A, and use that as leverage to get yourself a full-time position at your agency. as you already know, without this player A you are easily disposable. but with him, the agency has a lot more to lose. i suggest telling the agency that you have established a great relationship with this kid over the last ‘x’ months, and that you would like to bring him in, and work out something for yourself. depending on your schooling, degrees, length of time in the business, etc—-you may or may not be able to be his ‘agent,’ but you can still use him as leverage to get that full-time position youve been looking for. ask to be completely involved in his entire process, or rather, express to them that you want to be his manager and be his daily point-of-contact. that alone will only make your relationship stronger and better, for whatever the future holds.
    lastly, i want to say id avoid trying to run away with player A and starting your own agency–for a ton of reasons. first and foremost, you initially said to the kid that you were calling on behalf of agent X—-that right there would put you in some shady light right away, and he would see that immediately. secondly, if hes already in this deep with you, he obviously has taken a liking not only to you, but also to the agency as a whole… what you do thats different from other agencies, what can you provide that nobody else can, etc etc. its for all those reasons, IN ADDITION to him vibing on the same level as you, that made him interested. now, to just take off and leave—-that could cost you a client, and probably that job too.

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  • agent101

    this doesnt make any sense wants agent X finds out The player signed with you he gonna know something is up and thats when the player is gonna say he thought he was signing with agent X