Apr
05

Knocking on Heaven’s Door

Yes, the post title is the name of a great song and a great book about a husband-wife baseball agent duo, but it also describes my professional journey very accurately. My idea of a living Heaven is having a career as a sports agent and in order to put myself in a better position to do so, I have to relentlessly knock on the doors of agents and other professionals in order to expand my network and pursue work experience.

My name is Marc Miller and I am a junior at Emory University in Atlanta, GA. I have been an avid reader of the Sports Agent Blog since I was a senior at North Salem (NY) High School and am very excited and grateful for the opportunity Darren has provided me to contribute to the blog from the perspective of an intern.

I have wanted to be a sports agent for a few years now after realizing the main reason why I enjoyed playing high school and college basketball. I was closely-connected with gentlemen who possess qualities that I appreciate and respect and that inspire me to do my best work. After realizing that being connected with hard-working, dedicated athletes drove me towards my best work, I knew the career I would pursue has to involve a close relationship with athletes; sports agent is that career.

At 18-years-old, I knew the business I was interested in was a competitive one in which networking, then experience, is most important. I took advantage of my high school’s senior internship program and got my start with Bill Neff of Saga Sports in Chappaqua, NY. Bill gave me the opportunity to get my feet wet and get enough of a taste to make an educated decision as to whether or not I would continue to pursue being a sports agent. As part of Bill’s pre-draft preparation, I researched statistics to build Mike Taylor’s (Iowa State, Idaho Stampede) draft stock. I got to see my work pay off when Adam Silver announced Taylor’s name as the 55th overall pick of the 2008 NBA Draft, making him the first player in NBA history to be drafted straight out of the D-League.

I am currently interning with Octagon’s football division in Atlanta under C.J. Laboy. C.J. has given me several significant projects that have covered different aspects of the business. I started out by compiling contact databases for recruiting and got to understand the NCAA and UAAA protocols that must be followed when recruiting a college player. I also worked on preparing materials for the Draft and for free agency that depicted the market for certain positions.

I have been working in client marketing for the past two weeks, which I have enjoyed the most because the opportunities are endless. There is a lot of value to be created and I have found that when I make a call, I don’t know what I am selling until I learn about the company’s marketing mix and cross-reference that with the client’s schedule and personality strengths. I am engaging in some great conversations with companies and I hope to have some good news to report next week when these deals get finalized.

Until then, be sure to add me to your LinkedIn network and follow me on Twitter (Marc_H_Miller)

  • Jeff

    You sound pretty motivated. What are your plans for the summer?

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Thanks for your interest Jeff. As for right now, I am contemplating a few different opportunities. When I have firm plans, I will be sure to post them.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_D6ARQPSUJM2I3YVHX5R6OCSRLI Mark

    Marc:

    You make a compelling defense here. But I’m wondering how you would tackle the complexities and nuances evident in the dance between athletes and agents. Granted, there’s good and bad in all professions …I’m just wondering where you stand on the business now that you’re experiencing the less glamorous aspects of the job.

    For example, did you read “Confessions of an NFL Agent” by Josh Luchs in the Oct. 18 issue of Sports Illustrated? Luchs chronicles his rise and fall in the piece….

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Mark,

      Thank you for the question. I enjoyed the SI piece very much and have done my fair share of reading and researching some of the darker sides of the industry. There are certainly ethical ways to do something and there are unethical ways to do something. When you take the 92 MLB, NBA, and NFL teams and multiply that by the average amount of players they carry on a roster, there is a very low supply of high-income athletes to keep some agents sustainable. Some resort to unethical tactics. I am fortunate to say that I have only had experience with agents and agencies who have conducted business ethically and hope to keep associating myself with mentors and role models with those standards. It is an inconvenient truth, but you have to sit back and remember that you have to sleep peacefully every night.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_D6ARQPSUJM2I3YVHX5R6OCSRLI Mark

    Marc:

    You make a compelling case here about the profession. I’m wondering if you read the Oct. 2010 story about former NFL agent Josh Luchs in Sports Illustrated. In the piece, Luchs chronicles his rise –and fall. Wondering where you stand on it.

  • Zvee

    Do you think there are perspectives that an intern can provide that would otherwise be overlooked in the industry?

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Zvee,

      Thank you for your question. I think that interns, aside from having relationships with prospects and using that in recruiting, bring value to social media efforts. Social media can serve as a source of information and communication to potential clients and marketing partners. Having the instinct to use social media before Google can make interns more efficient if the situation calls for that approach.

  • Iperry93

    I feel like you have made a good start for getting into the business. What are your long term and short term goals for the job?

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Thank you for your comment. My short term goals are to get as much hands on experience during the term of whatever internship I have. Beyond college, it is difficult to say because I am a believer that no 2 paths towards becoming a sports agent are the same. I will have to react to the opportunities I have and educate myself and build my network in order to maximize the opportunities I receive.

  • dirmkt

    You sound quite motivated. I’d like to learn a little more about you – in how you got interested in becoming a sports agent. I don’t get your connection between being a high school athlete and becoming an agent, please explain.

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Thank you for the comment. The explanation of my inspiration can be very wordy. When I was a high school and college athlete, I always enjoyed the company of my teammates. When I got down to realizing why I enjoyed their company, I realized it was because we all possessed very similar character traits (hard work and determination). While playing with them, I realized it was the environment we created based on those values that pushed me to do my best. I strongly believe that being surrounded by athletes (through representing them) will have a similar effect on me to motivate me to do my best work. It may seem like a stretch to some, but sports and business share many values and I believe that I can be motivated in a similar manner in both settings.

  • http://profiles.google.com/stoddard.logan Logan Stoddard

    What is the most exciting experience that you have had to date in you quest to become a sports agent?

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Logan,

      Thank you for your question. You may find it ironic that my most valuable experience was not in an agency setting, but when I was a ticket sales intern for the Atlanta Falcons last summer. I developed the foundation that I currently use when selling, which applies to much of the work I would do as an agent.

      As for the most exciting, I would go with my current internship with Octagon because the decertification of the NFL Players Union has created a new level of energy as everyone has to make adjust plans and figure out what it means not to be unionized.

  • Claytonheery13

    In your experiences as an athlete, what factor do you believe would most help you as an agent? Also, as a young intern, what perspectives or unique views can you provide not only to the agency world but to the sports world as a whole? Looking forward to reading more.

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Thank you for your questions and interest in the post. The best things I can take away from my athletic experiences are that I can relate with athletes and their level of desire to move on to the next level and my experience when being recruited to play college basketball can also help me relate to athletes when I wear the advisor hat. Right now, the best perspective an intern can provide is experience and expertise in social media. There are opportunities social media can provide in the pursuit of information and communications paths that an elder, more experienced, generation may not look to capitalize on.

  • Regancmmde

    Sounds like you are off to a great start. Good luck. Any organization will be lucky to have such a hard working and industrious young man as yourself.

  • Guest

    Marc:

    While I was reading your blog, I couldn’t help but notice your mention of the sport’s agency Octagon and I must ask, why Octagon and not a heptagon, also commonly referred to as septagon. I look forward to learning more about this topic as you continue to blog.

  • Heather Karellas

    What exactly are the day-to-day responsibilities of a sports agent? /Why specifically do you want to be a sports agent as opposed to a coach, sports journalist, etc?

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Heather,

      Thank you for your question. It is very relevant because throughout high school, I knew I wanted to work in sports and considered everything under that umbrella. I realized that I best enjoy the energy and intensity that comes with the agent business.

      As far as the day-to-day responsibilities of an agent, there is no job in sports that can claim to have normal responsibilities; there are too many different people that the success of the business relies on. Agents are responsible for negotiating a client’s playing contract, pursuing marketing opportunities for clients, managing a client’s press relations and expanding opportunities there, and providing general support for anything the client is interested in being a part of.

  • Killyh

    Marc,
    As an agent, can you represent athletes in more than one sport?

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Thank you for your question. Agents can represent players in multiple sports as long as they are properly certified by each league’s players association (with a temporary exception of the NFL).

  • sportsfan

    The future seems bright given your passion for this career path, motivation and attention to detail. Have you observed similar characteristics in other sports agents you have met?

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Thank you for your question. There are no 2 similar paths to becoming an agent, so it is hard to speak about similarities, but every agent I have met and worked with thus far treats their clients like family and places them on their life totem pole as such. They all love what they do and ignore a 9-5 standard work day. When other professionals dread the idea of bringing their work home with them, it is a privilege for agents to be able to do so. If an agent isn’t passionate about what he does, he will not be an agent for long.

  • Ehroths

    Your motivation and drive to succeed are going to take you a long way, Marc, and it is something that I really respect. Good luck with your future endeavors!

  • Gatehaus

    Hey Mark! How did you come to realize that you wanted to be a sports agent? That sounds like a very interesting field of endeavor.

  • Gatehaus

    Hey Mark! How did you come to realize that you wanted to be a sports agent? That sounds like a very interesting field of endeavor.

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Thank you for your question. Athletes motivate me to do my best and this is the best business-focused career to work closely with them.

  • http://twitter.com/ChazXray Chaz X. Ray

    Marc,
    I think if you follow your bliss, you can become what ever you want to be. I think if you remain passionate about the business, You will go far!
    Why do you think networking comes first before experience in this profession?
    Good luck in the future.

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Chaz,

      Thank you for your question. Sports and entertainment are among the most popular industries in business and it gets to the point where everyone has similar educational and professional credentials that knowing as many people in the firm you are applying with is what puts you over the top.

      Also, once you develop your network, you realize that the agent community (and the sports community as a whole for that matter) are very small and that one’s network can grow with an exponential effect.

  • gumptious

    riveting

  • Andrew Palmer

    Mark,

    Love the insight. Pretty jealous you got to work with Octagon, that’s huge! I will be looking for a Sports Management internship next Spring (Haven’t had the time yet with SPE)

    Keep up the good work man, you are already light years ahead of me in job experience!

    Take it easy man

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Thanks for the comment Brother Andrew! Stay in touch about your internship search. I might be ahead of you in job experience, but you’re the one going to Greece!

  • Newest fan

    Move over Jerry McGuire!

  • Josh Pittell

    Excellent post marc! You sound highly motivated and i look forward to following you in the future. I’m going to be a freshman at the university of Florida this fall, and I am curious what classes you have taken in college that you feel will best prepare you in the sports agency world?

    Josh Pittell

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Josh,

      First of all, congrats for getting into UF! You are going to get a phenomenal education and you are going to have a lot of fun in the process. It all depends on your major and which classes that offers. So far, the classes that have best prepared me for work of this nature are:
      -A class about negotiations
      -A class about entrepreneurship (it will really teach you how to sell)
      -A class about sports/entertainment marketing (it gave me the opportunity to have a major role in a project to bring a professional lacrosse team to Atlanta)

      As for UF, I know their economics department has a great economics of sports class. The finance department has a class in entrepreneurship that seems similar to the one I am taking now. A basic management class can be very beneficial to you because it will teach you leadership and effective communication. Also, a basic marketing class will go a long way for you to understand basic techniques and terminologies. I would stay away from the sports management department although you might be interested in taking 1 class. You will find that it will pertain more to leisure activities and not the commercialized sports that you are used to. Don’t be afraid to take a history or political science class. As a history minor, I might not be able to tell you much about the Civil War anymore, but those classes taught me how to be a better thinker and a better writer. When you pick your classes for the fall, post them here. Best of luck.

  • Wmfunrun

    As an intern on the brink of a career in this arena, have you considered some of the downsides of the sports agent business? What do you foresee?

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Thank you for your question. I definitely believe that those whose perceptions of this business come from the media believe that there are more downsides than there are. As long as an agent operates ethically, networks well, works hard to recruit, and works harder for the client, the possibilities of those downsides are lesser and if those are the conditions, then I like the outlook.

  • http://twitter.com/dmiller1000 Dave Miller

    You seem to be clear on the agency business and how to establish a foothold in it. I assume the dynamics of the agent’s relationships between the (younger) athletes/clients and the owners/managers can change somewhat as the agent gets older.

    • http://twitter.com/marc_h_miller Marc Miller

      Thank you for your question. Having not experience this type of transition, I really cannot answer your question with much certainty. My perception on the matter now, as someone learning about the industry, is that an agent can balance out his agency by hiring younger guys if he feels to old to relate to athletes. On the other hand, an older agent can play the role of a father figure, which some athletes may respond very well to. I think it can only become an issue if the athlete makes it one.