Sports Business Uncategorized

Ari (Fleischer, not Gold) teams with IMG

Interesting tidbit in today’s Sports Business Daily (subscription required) mentions that former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer (pictured) is joining IMG to form “a joint venture to provide media training, image management and crisis management for athletes, coaches, and team and league executives.” Ari Fleischer Sports Communications (AFSC) will be a “response to an increasingly competitive sports news environment,” according to Fleischer, who will serve as its President alongside COO and IMG Senior Corporate VP Sandy Montag.

Ari F.

AFSC will target individual athletes, sports team owners, team and league executives, coaches and other high-profile people who work in sports. “If someone has an issue they are wondering how to handle, they can seek advice when the dam has burst and the water is flowing and they are in trouble, or prior to it, so the dam never bursts,” commented Fleischer, who certainly has more experience in handling ‘burst dams’ (or bursting them himself; see Valerie Plame) than most. Said Montag: “We will offer [our services] to everyone inside and outside of IMG. We will operate it as a separate company.”

Is Fleischer’s AFSC filling a niche market? Hasn’t ‘crisis control’ long been a part of an agent’s, or more specifically, a publicist’s job already? And even if AFSC will allegedly be run ‘separately’ from IMG, how many services for non-IMG clients will it truly be performing? Will outside agents and managers really entrust the handling of their clients’ woes to the management superpower when it could mean losing them entirely?

3 replies on “Ari (Fleischer, not Gold) teams with IMG”

LOL Jason I was just going to write about this. You know sport’s business is getting serious when you have a former White House press secretary getting into it. There is too much money at stake to not be in the business of sport.
I think this partnernship happened because IMG needs to battle with CAA and these other conglomerates for the turf they once controlled. This is another service that IMG can provide to clients. Just imagine if you had the choice between Ari Gold, regular agent and Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary. Where was Ari when Mike Vick started having trouble?

I think this has a chance to be successful, but only because the sports representation industry — and I’m talking about the media component, the training component, the financial advising component, and the actual contract advisory component — are all becoming so fragmented and specialized. At some point, a major agency will contract with them, and then it will become part of the representation ‘arms race’ in which an agent can ask a player ‘would you rather go with that smaller firm, where the agent does everything, or us, where we have a specialized service for every single thing?’

It’s just like pre-combine training. You can google and find agents who talk about how it was just 15 years ago, when there was essentially NO pre-combine specialization, to now. God knows how big the industry is now, and it’s getting bigger every day.

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