Welcome to a new column titled, Rookie Duties. In this column, Scott Deady will give you a glimpse into the day-to-day life of an agent breaking into the industry.
Today there are almost 7 billion people in the world. When I was a kid, there were 5 billion. It’s hard to keep up.
In Windsor, Ontario, a 17-year-old kid named Taylor Hall registered 90 points in 63 games in the Ontario Hockey League. You will see a kid named Cam Fowler next year in the World Junior Championships. Next June, teams will be falling all over themselves to sign Kirill Kabanov of Moscow, Russia in the next NHL Draft.
Believe me, there’s genius everywhere but until they turn pro, it’s like popcorn in the pan – some pop, some don’t. Now I’m the guy you don’t usually see. I’m the one behind the scenes. My name is Scott Deady, and I’m the sports agent.
Most of you reading this probably picked up the Jerry Maguire rip by the end of the second sentence. If you could tell by the end of the first, I can’t decide if I’m impressed or if I just feel bad for you. After the release of the film Jerry Maguire, it seemed as though every third person’s goal was to work in the sports industry – most people specifically wanting to be the guy yelling, “Show me the money!” And who wouldn’t want to work in sports after seeing Jerry work the hotel lobby like he did? It painted a picture where the life of an agent was sexier than that of the professional athlete himself. But the truth is that life as a sports agent, while certainly providing its share of perks, isn’t all that the film makes it out to be. Long hours, consistent rejection, and often feeling like nothing more than a babysitter all come with the territory. However these issues are rarely understood by those not working directly in the sports industry. That’s what I’m here for – to show you what life as a sports agent is really like.
Recently, I accepted a position with a sports agency as the Director of a newly formed hockey division. Before I came on board, the agency represented players from both the NFL and CFL, as well as a handful of other athletes. My company was looking to venture into another sport, and ice hockey interested them. That’s where I came in. As the Director of the Hockey Division, my duties include scouting and recruiting throughout Russia and North America, as well as procuring performance contracts and endorsement deals for, and handling the personal issues of, our hockey clients.
Now you might ask how a 25-year-old, with no real world experience, secures a position directing a division of a sports agency that already represents talent at the highest professional level. To be honest, I’d say it was a combination of about 75% hard work and careful planning mixed in with around 25% good timing. Or maybe it was more like 50/50 hard work and just being lucky…feel free to make your own assessment. But regardless of my “winning formula,” my path to where I am today all began while growing up playing club hockey in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.
During my senior year of high school, my club team – the Downers Grove Huskies – competed in an annual international tournament known as the Tretiak Cup. For the two weeks the visiting foreign teams spent in the United States, my family agreed to host two Russian players from the Red Army Hockey Club in our home. The two assigned to us were Dmitry Shitikov (current forward for Moscow Dynamo of the Kontinental Hockey League) and Sergei Shirokov (drafted at #163 overall by the Vancouver Canucks in 2006 and the most recent Russian player to enter the heated NHL-KHL battle over players’ contract rights, and pictured, right). After getting to know and becoming very close with Sergei and Dima (Dima is a common Russian nickname for Dmitry), I decided that I wanted nothing more than to represent professional hockey players, specifically desiring to help underprivileged Russian players reach the ultimate goal of the NHL. Now that I knew where I wanted my life to go, I needed a plan to help get me there.
After high school, I went on to play hockey for Ohio University, where I would graduate in 2006 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication. While at OU, I studied Russian for three years and in the summer of 2005 I obtained a position in the prestigious internship program of IMG at their home office in Cleveland, Ohio. Throughout the years, I kept in contact with my Russian friends and upon graduation from OU, I traveled to Moscow for two weeks to visit them. By that time, I had committed to law school at Ohio Northern University after turning down an offer from Marquette University’s College of Law – one of the top institutions for those pursuing a career in sports law. While ONU didn’t have a reputation as being a top law school, they were offering me substantial scholarship money. In retrospect, the decision to attend Northern ended up being possibly the best decision of my life – the founder of my firm was also an ONU Law graduate and last Fall a few of my now partners came to our campus to speak. Fortunately, I attended the Friday afternoon presentation and afterwards I approached the group, telling my story and explaining my basic career plan. They seemed intrigued and so I remained in contact with them through my third year of law school. Eventually I asked if we could meet at their home office to discuss the viability of a hockey division, and a week before graduation I flew out to California to present the extensive 40-page business plan I had developed over the previous six months. After several days of meetings, I was offered, and I eagerly accepted, my current position.
Now before making the connection with my current firm, I had sent my resume to practically every agent certified by the NHLPA and PHPA (Professional Hockey Players’ Association) looking for an opportunity to show what I could do. The overall response from my efforts was discouraging at best, and I was beginning to realize that I might have to do this on my own. I read some books written by and about sports agents looking for any insight as to what the best route to success was. Unfortunately, most of those out there give only a brief glance at how the agent got his start. But what I really craved was an understanding of the day-to-day challenges facing an agent new to the industry. I wanted to know exactly what I was about to face and what I needed to do to really make it in such a competitive environment. The idea of this column is to give readers precisely what I was looking for – a glimpse into my daily life as a new sports agent. I’ll be posting new entries weekly and by reading, you can follow me from the beginning – sharing both the ups and downs in my pursuit to make a big splash in the hockey community.
While my company certainly provides me with the structural and financial support that many newcomers to the sports business community don’t have, there are still innumerable obstacles left to be overcome. Hopefully by reading this column, you’ll be able to replicate some of my moves that work, steer away from decisions that don’t, and better set yourself up for success in an extremely competitive industry. Even if not pursuing a career in sports, getting a peak behind the scenes can shed light on a lot of issues on the field or ice that otherwise might go unnoticed or be misunderstood. And who knows – by authoring this maybe I’ll learn a thing or two about myself as well.