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DIYRS: Do It Yourself Rookie Symposium

The following is a guest contribution from Marc Isenberg.  Follow Marc on twitter @marcisenberg.  I will be publishing my review of Marc’s “Go Pro Like a Pro” (discussed in this post) in the near future.  Needless to say, it is a very informative booklet for athletes to read.

“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.” — Plato

The NFL rookie symposium, which was scheduled for June 26th, is an unfortunate casualty of the lockout.

Perhaps holding it is untenable, as CAA football agent Ben Dogra told the AP, “The truth is, how can you cancel an event that isn’t supposed to happen anyway since there is a lockout? The NFL is closed for business. Thus, to hold a rookie symposium wouldn’t make any logical sense.”

On other hand, ESPN’s Michael Smith pointed out NFL officials “guilt-tripped those rookies into showing up for the Draft during a work stoppage so they could show up and help the TV ratings and help the league’s event go on. And yet you won’t put on a symposium to help them stay in the league and not mess up the money they eventually get or make the wrong life decisions.”

The NFL’s Rookie Symposium and the NBA’s Rookie Transition Program are great programs to help young players handle their newfound income and the media, fans, agents and potentially disruptive influences. It’s disappointing that both sides couldn’t come together when it comes to helping players make better financial and personal decisions, but that’s life.

So, does not having the Rookie Symposium increase the probability of future financial problems, divorce and other legal problems? Doubtful. Unfortunately, as a director of player programs once told me, the excitement of the first few days of a pro sports career “is not a teachable moment” for many players. Top athletes need to start learning the fundamentals of being a professional while they are still in college, if not earlier.

This year’s rookie class has rough summer ahead: Lots of free time, little to no savings and possibly some significant debt (hey, that loan the NCAA helped secure on your behalf so you could stay in school another year, yeah, that’s got to be paid back starting in the fall.) But entering the job market in these dark days may help some guys see the light. As Mark Twain said, “A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

It is too bad the NFL rookie symposium is not happening. But if you’re a rookie, deal with it. Seriously. If you want to succeed in this business, take the necessary steps to get you where you want to go. Step one: Read my publications. Here’s the deal: I will send a free copy of Go Pro Like a Pro to any NFL draftee, undrafted free agent and current NFL player. Same goes for basketball. Just email me at [email protected].

(One caveat: Free copies are for players only. I’ve already received a few emails from agents who asked me to send free copies for their rookie clients. I applaud agents who want their guys to read Go Pro but they can purchase copies at a nominal rate. The free offer is for athletes who take 76 seconds to send an email saying they want to read Go Pro. Just like life, a little initiative goes a long way.)

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.

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