Every day I get at least one email from someone who desires to become a sports agent. It never fails. For instance, yesterday I received the following communication:
Hello, my name is [name redacted] and I am a sophomore at [school redacted]. I am a Sports Administration major with a concentration in Sports Commerce. I have great aspirations of becoming a sports agent one day. I am looking for any advice pertaining the best possible education path that I should take, or potential learning experiences with Dynasty Reps. Thank you for your time. Phone: [number redacted].
First of all, this person obviously did not read My Jerry Maguire-esque Moment?, wherein I explained that I no longer wished to practice as a “sports agent,” chose to let my athlete agent license expire, and decided that I would focus on my other offerings, including my growing legal practice. More importantly, though, I do my best to respond to as many inquiries as possible, but unfortunately I am unable to find enough time to reply to each and every email. However, it is as evident today as it was when I interned for CSE in 2005 that there is no lack of interest in the sports agency industry. I doubt Indiana University would have hired me to teach a class titled, “Sport Agency Management” if there was no demand for it. And I doubt I would receive countless emails such as the one quoted above if no one cared about the inner workings of the sports agent profession.
But why are people so eager to become sports agents? Should the blame be placed on TNT for continuing to replay the movie, “Jerry Maguire” (the movie happens to not depict sports agency as all that appealing, anyway), which was first released in movie theaters almost 20 years ago? Whatever the reason may be, it is important for those who are curious about the sports agent industry to not only dream about the supposed glitz and glamour attached to representing professional athletes, but also understand some of the not-so-pleasant aspects of the business.
Veteran football agent Jack Bechta published an article on the National Football Post that every football agent hopeful should be required to read. The title: The 5 worst things about being an NFL Sports Agent. Here are his 5 “miserable components” associated with representing pro football players:
- Dealing with other agents poaching clients and many players lacking loyalty;
- Being on call 24/7;
- The lengthy recruiting process;
- Cost and burden of traveling; and
- Seeing a client’s career come to a premature end.
For a young agent, I would think that the first component mentioned is probably the most miserable. There are countless stories of start-up agents/agencies that pump their time, money, and sweat-equity into recruiting, signing, training, and negotiating a prospect’s first contract only to lose that player prior to negotiating his second contract (when the commissions finally start to cover the expenses and produce a profit for the representatives).
Bechta concludes his article by saying the good outweighs the bad and even begins his article with the statement that he would not trade his job for anything. And that’s the most important point. Agents will dissuade agent-hopefuls from entering their business, and for good reason. Why would they want more competition in an already cluttered profession? Sports reporters tend do also provide “advice” to stay away from representing athletes, with ESPN Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell tweeting, “Don’t go into the business,” in response to a follower’s question, “what would be our advice to a young sports agent?” My belief is that there continues to be a need for competent, active, knowledgeable representation, and there is still space for new entrants. Instead of being told to stay out, those searching for advice about the sports agency industry should be told about the negatives and the positives and be allowed to make an informed decision thereafter.