Sports Agents Sports Business

Concept To Colossus

Creative Artists Agency (CAA) has seen its sports representation branch grow immensely over the past year.  What does this mean for the common agent? 

USA Today has written a piece that shows just how dominant Career Artists Agency has become in representing high-profile athletes [Top athletes follow celebs in picking A-list agents].  The article notes that the lines between Hollywood and sports are fading, but this is true for only a select few athletes.  Sure, CAA does have an edge over Joe Shmo agency that represents its clients in contract negotiation, marketing, (insert all other standard services here), and does not have its own entertainment wing.  But is that necessary for 99% of players who sign with agencies?  I would say no.  In fact, 99% of athletes looking to go pro would probably be better off with a smaller firm that can give more personal care to each client.  Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning may be better off with CAA, but not someone like James Posey (no offense) probably does not fit into such a large firm.

This post is no knock on CAA.  The company has acquired some of the best agents in the industry and has a lot of resources to help out the team-sports athletes that it represents.  My intention is to explain that CAA is not a fit for everyone.  The 99% of athletes that I mentioned who do not fit in such an agency will read the USA Today article and immediately think that they have to sign with CAA.  Instead, join an agency that is right for you based on your needs.  Do not just join a company like CAA because a nationally published newspaper praises its accomplishments.

At the end of the USA Today article, a couple of agents seemed scared of CAA in their remarks.  I actually am excited to one day compete with CAA.  Hopefully no blood will be shed in the process.  The quote that should resonate is:

“CAA is just bringing a lot of resources and other media/entertainment assets to their clients,” [Brice Miller of Complete Sports Management] says. “In terms of fundamental necessities that a player needs from an agent, they are not doing anything else a good agent can’t do.”

There is still opportunity for Sports Agents to have success with CAA in the mix.  You just need to sell your true value.  Hopefully it is convincing enough to a potential client.

-Darren Heitner 

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

9 replies on “Concept To Colossus”

I had a discussion on this topic when CAA acquired Condon, Kremer, Dogra, Steiner, etc. Another agent told me he was irate because he felt CAA would sign everyone, I told him CAA would be highly selective on who they signed. Dogra was a sniper recruiter before, imagine what he’ll do with CAA and everything they can provide behind him. Football wise CAA will sign 10 guys a year or so. Their class this year is pretty nice, but not that stellar. Quinn is their only star marketing client (Peterson hired former IMG employee Bill Henkel to do his marketing). They have then a bunch of defensive guys that aren’t at the top of marketers wish lists.

They’ll struggle to sign multiple QB’s out of college a year, for some reason it is a major urban myth with football players that the same agency can’t represent similar players competing for draft spots.

On the the hoops side of things Leon Rose will sign 3 or 4 guys a year, but Bill Duffy and Arn Tellem will continue to get their share of players, with or without the entertainment factor CAA brings to the table.

When it comes down to it, most players will select the agent that is the best fit for them, if they want to do some acting on the side or are super marketable they may opt for CAA, but CAA is not going to be the only show in town.

I agree, I think a player will go with whom he feels comfortable with. One of things that CAA has over “Joe Shmo” agent is all the “toys” they use for recruiting to get that player.

I agree, a client must feel like the agency is thinking about him and his needs/wants. A smaller agency might be best for the player, but should an agent work for a larger agency like CAA, or should an agent work for a smaller sports agency?

I think this also depends on that agent’s preference. There is no general right or wrong path. If you are the type who will thrive in a large agency with a lot of existing tools to assist your efforts, then apply for a job there. If you want to help build a small agency, try that out. Or maybe you have it in you to start your own agency.. 🙂

I read the article. Optimism is great, but with CAA hiring agents as well as contracting with high profile players, I see a monopoly coming out of the woodworks. I know there are a lot of athletes who need people to handle their contracts etc. With this new trend taking place, it’s difficult to see where the sports agency business will be in 4-5 years?

Sports agents have tried the conglomerate before IMG, SFX, Octagon, granted this kicks it up another notch, but look at this year’s draft class. CAA got Quinn, Peterson (not his marketing), Aaron Ross, Michael Griffin, McCauley, Branch, Ray McDonald, Ray Kahil, and that’s about it. That is a very strong draft class, but look at who they didn’t get and you’ll see many more quality players. Likely they’ll end up with 3 of the top 10 and 6 or so first rounders, that’s very solid, but far from dominating.

Keep an eye on Ian Greengross, he’s an up and coming agent. He’s co-representing Dwayne Jarrett and Amobi Okoye this year, snagged Addai last year.

Lucky for Ian Greengross, those happen to be two top players (in my mind) in the draft this year. Addai must have been a steal…

In the past year or so CAA has lost some talented players as clients. Tony Gonzalez and Byron Leftwich elected to take all of their marketing to another company, Adrian Peterson hired CAA to do only his contract negotiation this year and then went with a smaller firm for his marketing.

It looks as if Leinart is looking for a new marketing company, Tomlinson and the Mannings are still represented, marketing wise, by IMG.

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