Sports Agent Interview:
with Matthew Vuckovich
Peter Webb is a 29-year-old Scottsdale, Arizona-based sports agent. As an agent in the Golf Division at Gaylord Sports Management (http://www.gaylordsports.com), Peter personally manages the careers of players competing on all the major professional golf tours. He was nice enough to take time out of his busy schedule to talk to me about his career as an agent. You can also learn more about Peter on his profile page at http://www.accessathletes.com.
Matthew Vuckovich: How did you get started in this industry?
Peter Webb: During law school, I worked at both a talent agency (The Gersh Agency) as well as a large entertainment law firm (Greenberg Traurig, LLP). After finishing law school, I accepted a position with a rising entertainment company based in Hollywood, California. I worked directly under one of the top entertainment attorneys in Los Angeles in a practice that represented actors, producers, directors and musicians. I was later given the opportunity to expand the entertainment side of the business into professional sports. At that time I started to recruit and manage professional athletes. After managing nearly ten professional golfers for several years in southern California, I was then offered a Player Manager position in the golf division at Gaylord Sports. My wife (Brooke) and I then moved to Phoenix, Arizona where we still remain today.
Matthew Vuckovich: Where did you attend law school?
Peter Webb: I received my Juris Doctorate from New York Law School (http://www.nyls.edu).
Matthew Vuckovich: Who was your first client (year, sport), and how did you recruit him?
Peter Webb: My first client was current PGA Tour player John Mallinger. At the time I first met John, he was a mini-tour player in southern California and he had not quite had the opportunity to showcase his talents on the national scene. The recruitment process lasted a couple months and I watched John play in several professional tournaments and met with him on several other occasions as well. After interacting with his friends and family, spending a little time with his college golf coach, and after having a handful of meetings with John to discuss the services that I could provide, we were finally able to work out a management agreement that was beneficial for both parties.
Matthew Vuckovich: How did you handle your first contract negotiation?
Peter Webb: I had the opportunity to draft, analyze and negotiate hundreds of contracts during my time in the entertainment field, but my first experience with negotiating a contract in the sports industry was when I worked out a representation agreement with my first client.
Matthew Vuckovich: What is the most important aspect of being a sports agent?
Peter Webb: Persistence, Honesty and Passion!!! I think that all agents, advisors and managers would agree that these three aspects are crucial.
Matthew Vuckovich: At what age do you feel an agent will hit his prime/glory years? Why?
Peter Webb: This is tough to answer because it really depends on when you first have the opportunity to work in the business. Some people land a job as an agent in their early 20’s and might hit their prime by the time they are in their early 30’s. Others might work in a different industry (sales, law, marketing, etc.) and might not become an agent until their 40’s which might not allow them to hit their glory years until they are in their 50’s. Again, I really think that it depends on when someone first enters the sports industry, but it would certainly be hard to hit your glory / prime years without at least 5 years of experience.
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?
Peter Webb: Both large and small agencies can be effective at providing services to athletes and it really comes down to what the athlete prefers. Gaylord Sports might be viewed as a large agency since we currently manage nearly 80 professional athletes/entertainers, but we have one of the best manager to client ratios in the business and this allows us to provide exceptional services to our athletes. So, although we represent a large number of professional athletes, we are fortunate enough to have a nice stable of Player Managers/Athlete Advisors and we are able to provide a great deal of personal attention to each one of our clients. As long as larger agencies make sure that the agent to athlete ratio is practical, then I see no reason why a large agency cannot provide the same attention and services as a small agency.
Matthew Vuckovich: Where do you see the athlete representation industry going in 10 years?
Peter Webb: Two things…(1) Recruiting by means of the internet is going to grow tremendously and (2) I think that we will continue to see the purchasing and merging of sports practices by large conglomerates just like we have witnessed quite a bit the past 15+ years. The consolidation trend that began in the 1990’s with the merger of several smaller sports agencies by four large companies (Assante, SFX, Octagon, and IMG) has emerged once again with recent mergers by CAA, Blue Equity and Wasserman. I expect this trend to repeat itself once again within the next 5-10 years and I am sure we will see other major players materialize.
Matthew Vuckovich: Take our readers through a typical day in your life.
Peter Webb: I travel a lot and attend nearly four tournaments/events a month. When I am at a professional tournament, I spend a lot of time with our clients at the practice range discussing their needs. I also spend time with the families of our clients and the golf reps (Ping, Titleist, Taylormade, etc.) that are in attendance. While I am in the office, I am on the phone quite a bit trying to secure potential endorsement opportunities and corporate outings/appearances. I am also heavily involved in recruiting throughout the year, and I spend a great deal of time researching and analyzing the top amateur golfers in the world.
Matthew Vuckovich: What advice do you have for people looking to break into the industry?
Peter Webb: Learning the Business, Internships and DETERMINATION!!!
You must educate yourself about the industry on a daily basis. Whether it is reading the Sports Business Journal, skimming over the major sports websites (ESPN, NFL, NBA, MLB, PGA Tour, etc.), or attending conferences and lectures, it is important to absorb as much information as possible about the industry.
Internships are extremely important but it doesn’t have to necessarily be an internship at a sports agency. You can certainly gain valuable experience working for a law firm, a marketing company or even interning at a business that has a sales environment.
Finally, you must be determined to make an impact in this industry. Don’t be afraid to be the best and make it a point to work harder than anybody else. The fact that Mark Steinberg is out there right now trying to find the next Tiger Woods makes me want to go find two of them.
Matthew Vuckovich: Does your agency provide internships for people looking to break into the industry?
Peter Webb: Yes, we have a fantastic internship program. We generally accept between 2-4 interns during the fall and 2-4 interns during the spring. Please visit our website to learn more about our current needs and the application deadlines.
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?
Peter Webb: There continues to be a lot of illegal activity during the recruitment process of collegiate/amateur athletes and there are several states that still do not have legislation that controls illegal activity by agents/runners. I would like to see all of the remaining states adopt the Uniform Athlete Agent Act (UAAA) because I certainly feel that the act is a vital tool in regulating the activities of agents and protecting student-athletes. The UAAA is imperative because it requires an agent to provide important information to enable student-athletes and other parties to better evaluate the prospective agent. Without it, we will continue to observe agents give false or misleading information or make false promises to induce a student-athlete to sign a contract.
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?
Peter Webb: Some of the things we offer besides contract negotiations and endorsement opportunities include but are not limited to the following: Corporate outings and appearances, strategic marketing campaigns, travel arrangements, hotel bookings, itinerary preparations, media services, public relations, sponsorship consulting, and corporate marketing.
Matthew Vuckovich: What are some of the unique features that come with representing golfers?
Peter Webb: One unique feature about representing golfers is that I am able to offer sound advice about their tournament schedule for the year. At the beginning of each year I speak with each one of my clients and go through all the possible tournaments that they can or want to participate in. In the NFL, MLB and NBA, you don’t really have the option to pick which games you want to play in, but in golf, I am able to help my clients prepare for the year by coordinating a schedule that will allow them to be the most effective.
Matthew Vuckovich: How would you compare representing golfers in respect to football, baseball or basketball players?
Peter Webb: Unlike the NFL, MLB and NBA, individual athletes (like professional golfers) operate outside of a league structure and I do not work with unions or team managers. Now there are certainly rules and regulations that our golf clients must follow that have been implemented by the PGA and LPGA Tours, but for the most part, our clients are free to choose which tournaments and events they want to compete in, and they are not contractually obligated to wear a team uniform, stay in a team hotel, travel with the team, etc. In addition, most endorsement agreements with golfers require a player to participate in a minimum amount of events, but the player can use his/her discretion on what events they want to play in and they are not fined for taking two or three weeks off at a time.
Compared to football, basketball and baseball players, golfers are given more freedom in regards to their travel plans, practice and tournament schedules, which means I am a lot more involved with their weekly schedules than I could be if I represented players in team sports who have existing team obligations.
Matthew Vuckovich: On behalf of SportsAgentBlog.com and all of our readers, I would like to thank Peter Webb for sharing his knowledge and experiences with us today. You can check out his website at GAYLORDSPORTS.com. Till next time, be safe and act ethically in the business that you love.