MLB Players Retirement

Transitioning Athletes Need Help

Whether you represent a Minor League player or a advise a clubhouse leader at an MLB team for over a decade, will you be there for him once his professional baseball career is over?  Helping your clients transition from baseball players to other professions might not be a service listed in your marketing package.  It is not a service offered by most agencies, and agents are often too busy to worry about making sure that a client can make a safe transition.  There may be little for the agent to gain monetarily, and the agent may not see it as a way to generate referrals.  But everything is noticed, and being there for your clients when they have to put down the spikes and glove, might make the difference between your agency being rated with an A grade vs. a B+, which goes a long way in this competitive industry.

I like my clients to know that I will be there for them now, when they are professionals in their most learned and skilled trade, and later in life, when they venture into new business opportunities.  It seems like Doug Glanville would have benefited from having someone like me upon his retirement.  His Op-Ed piece in the New York Times linked above tells the story of a millionaire (most baseball players never even make it out of the Minors to make anywhere near that kind of money), who still struggled after retiring from baseball.  He writes:

Many of my former teammates and opponents were shaken to their core by [Steve] McNair’s death; it hit home for every one of them. There’s nothing to fill that void of competing every single day at the highest level.

According to [Eddie] George, McNair was lost, floating around trying to define himself without the pads, seeking solace in relationships outside his marriage. George remarked, “What people fail to realize is that when you make a transition away from the game — emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually — you go through something. You change, and you’re constantly searching for something.” Who will understand that a transitioning athlete needs help? There are few soft landings when you’ve been flying high.

Not many people can understand.  His teammates can, but they are busy playing or are going through the same thing.  His family can, but many players have stressful familial relationships because they are always on the road away from home.  What about the agent that the player has relied on throughout his professional baseball career?

This should also serve as a lesson to baseball players: Don’t go through 10 different agents before you decide to call it quits.  Develop a strong relationship with one agent, and try to stick with him.  He will go to bat for you after retirement.  If you keep switching agents throughout your career, which one of the many will actually care about you afterward?  Probably none of them.

It would seem that it is in everyone’s best interest to do a better job of supporting these players after their careers. They still have a place in the memories of a generation of fans and can be powerful mentoring influences.

Are enough agents recognizing this?

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.

One reply on “Transitioning Athletes Need Help”

Just a short reply to this most critical issue of afterlife: It is one of our most important basic tenants to advise and counsel the clien from the beginning of our relationship on what may be in his or her best interest upon retirement. There needs to be a complete understanding of the client’s needs, education, abilities, strengths, weaknesses, desires, etc. to have enough understanding to assist and counsel. It is alos our belief that outside professional career development counseling may be needed and provided as part of our dedication to our clients. It may take years of experience by the representative to adequately respond to the neds of the client.

Comments are closed.