Contract Negotiation Social Networking

Keep The Contract Terms Away From Social Media

owen daniels

Social media can create leverage for a sports agent in a ton of ways.  For one, it can separate a sports agent from his competition by offering a new PR, advertising, branding medium for his clients.  Social media also can create valuable connections for a sports agent to tap into when needed.  But what about using social media to create leverage in a contractual negotiation?  Emmett Jones believes that players can use social media platforms to reveal private figures and make the fans (who Jones says truly pays the contracts) make the decision by making their opinions known to ownership.

Let me say right now that this is a really bad idea for athletes and/or their agents.  There might not be anything illegal about revealing proposed terms while in negotiation (unless the parties agree to secrecy), but there is more for the athlete and agent to lose than gain.  A negotiation is not a war, it is supposed to be an amicable debate where both parties come out as winners.  By alienating ownership and getting the fans involved through a social media tactic, the athlete/agent is making it more of a battle between the player and management.  This could have bad implications for the athlete and agent in the long term.  Also, sponsors will be hesitant to come forth and many deals to the athlete.  Why take the chance when the athlete could go behind the sponsor’s back and post something derogatory on a social network, which can spread like wildfire?

So to answer Emmett’s question, no, I cannot see agents like Scott Boras or Drew Rosenhaus utilizing social media in this way.  Instead, you can continue to count on Rosenhaus to send about ten tweets a day, all at the same time, talking about how amazing each of his clients is and how they are each the best on their respective teams.  I may not be very interested in it, but at least he isn’t pissing any owners off.

As far as what Owen Daniels recently did, with updating his Facebook status about not showing up to practice…it is not all that smart, but it’s not as bad as some have made it out to be.  I think it would have been worse if his agent wrote the same thing on his own Facebook wall.  As agents, we have a higher standard to uphold.  We call ourselves professionals, so let’s act like it.  P.S. – Daniels signed an RFA tender with the Texans.

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.

6 replies on “Keep The Contract Terms Away From Social Media”

Although I don't completely agree with it, good post Darren. I don't really think that using social media as a leveraging point is any different than what's done now in stalled contract negotiations. Except now, its a reporter asking a player or an agent about why the deal isn't signed vs. the athlete tweeting about it themselves. (think JaMarcus Russell talking about different offers from the Raiders vs. Chris Mortensen giving out that same information). To me, its all still about insight, not necessarily about slant. The athlete opening up about information that may even already be public (because ESPN reported it), that's what creates the leverage…not necessarily saying that the Raiders should pay more money.

In any case, my article was based on using social media as a leveraging point in stalled negotiations (i.e. the athlete/team war has already begun), not during amiable talks, cause there would obviously be no reason to gain any leverage in a situation like that. When that war between the parties has begun, either side will do whatever they can to get a leg up. How does social media differ from an agent going on TV and saying that a team is being unfair with his player? Or telling a reporter you deserve X amount of money and then the reporter reports it on TV? It just seems like its information received from a 3rd party source vs. a 1st party source.

As far as the sponsorship potential, I would think/hope that sponsors would just broaden the scope of their morals clauses to include usages of social media. Any athlete could just as easily bad-mouth a company to the media as they could on twitter. Although it would behoove the agent to advise them against that (or the athlete should rely on their own common sense, I hope)

In any case, now that I think about it, this is a great article, because it made me think about my article more and my thoughts on the matter. Thanks for that

Whether it should be this way or not, the revealing of information directly from the source or from a media outlet (ex: ESPN), is perceived differently by many, including professional franchises. It just looks bad when an athlete is tweeting about the terms of a contract offer, as opposed to when Mortensen has an inside scoop about it on a breaking news segment.

When negotiations come to an impasse, it is even more important that the agent is careful in how he proceeds to gain leverage. What you write on Twitter cannot be taken back (whereas on Facebook, you can click the Remove button). TV statements are recorded as well…but I do not necessarily condone those acts, either. It has to be judged on a case-by-case basis.

I agree, it is very important that the agent use prudence when trying to gain leverage in negotiations. Unfortunately, I know every agent isn't guided by the same moral compass that guides the agents that work at Dynasty. That's why, for better or for worse, I see things like this happening in the future.

That's why I also think, for better or for worse, again not arguing whether its right or wrong, that we will see athletes talk about contracts at some point and at some point it will generate leverage…because social media allows the direct connection with the fans. You're going to pull more for the guy that responded to you about a contract dispute than the one who's dispute you just hear about from Mortensen.

This is a great insight into the complicated world of negotiations. I think most importantly this is a new tactic that if well planned out could have immediate and immeasurable impact with an on-going negotiations AND that applies to both sides of the equation/discussion.

Darren, posts like this are what keep me coming back to your site. Keep up the good work.


Comments are closed.