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Aspire To Become A Sports Agent? First Learn About The “Miserable Components”

Every day I get at least one email from someone who desires to become a sports agent.  It never fails.  For instance, yesterday I received the following communication:

Hello, my name is [name redacted] and I am a sophomore at [school redacted].  I am a Sports Administration major with a concentration in Sports Commerce.  I have great aspirations of becoming a sports agent one day.  I am looking for any advice pertaining the best possible education path that I should take, or potential learning experiences with Dynasty Reps.  Thank you for your time. Phone: [number redacted].

First of all, this person obviously did not read My Jerry Maguire-esque Moment?, wherein I explained that I no longer wished to practice as a “sports agent,” chose to let my athlete agent license expire, and decided that I would focus on my other offerings, including my growing legal practice.  More importantly, though, I do my best to respond to as many inquiries as possible, but unfortunately I am unable to find enough time to reply to each and every email.  However, it is as evident today as it was when I interned for CSE in 2005 that there is no lack of interest in the sports agency industry.  I doubt Indiana University would have hired me to teach a class titled, “Sport Agency Management” if there was no demand for it.  And I doubt I would receive countless emails such as the one quoted above if no one cared about the inner workings of the sports agent profession.

But why are people so eager to become sports agents?  Should the blame be placed on TNT for continuing to replay the movie, “Jerry Maguire” (the movie happens to not depict sports agency as all that appealing, anyway), which was first released in movie theaters almost 20 years ago?  Whatever the reason may be, it is important for those who are curious about the sports agent industry to not only dream about the supposed glitz and glamour attached to representing professional athletes, but also understand some of the not-so-pleasant aspects of the business.

Veteran football agent Jack Bechta published an article on the National Football Post that every football agent hopeful should be required to read.  The title: The 5 worst things about being an NFL Sports Agent.  Here are his 5 “miserable components” associated with representing pro football players:

  1. Dealing with other agents poaching clients and many players lacking loyalty;
  2. Being on call 24/7;
  3. The lengthy recruiting process;
  4. Cost and burden of traveling; and
  5. Seeing a client’s career come to a premature end.

For a young agent, I would think that the first component mentioned is probably the most miserable.  There are countless stories of start-up agents/agencies that pump their time, money, and sweat-equity into recruiting, signing, training, and negotiating a prospect’s first contract only to lose that player prior to negotiating his second contract (when the commissions finally start to cover the expenses and produce a profit for the representatives).

Bechta concludes his article by saying the good outweighs the bad and even begins his article with the statement that he would not trade his job for anything.  And that’s the most important point.  Agents will dissuade agent-hopefuls from entering their business, and for good reason.  Why would they want more competition in an already cluttered profession?  Sports reporters tend do also provide “advice” to stay away from representing athletes, with ESPN Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell tweeting, “Don’t go into the business,” in response to a follower’s question, “what would be our advice to a young sports agent?”  My belief is that there continues to be a need for competent, active, knowledgeable representation, and there is still space for new entrants.  Instead of being told to stay out, those searching for advice about the sports agency industry should be told about the negatives and the positives and be allowed to make an informed decision thereafter.

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.

16 replies on “Aspire To Become A Sports Agent? First Learn About The “Miserable Components””

I’ve been reading this blog since 2006/2007 I have aspired to be a sports agent since I was 14 years old “about the time when I realized that I wasn’t going to the NFL” The “Skillset” that I have fits in with the role, however going from a 16-17 year old kid to the 23 year old man that I am today *Lebron voice. I realized that I need to make a career first. I’ve been working for a BIG hotel chain since 07, & now I’m a Social Media Analyst for said company. The point is I still have the dream but after being in the “workforce” I would be stupid to throw almost 7 years of experience away. So I have refocused my goals to the front office. I’ve interned w/ several professional sports teams and have had a few job offers. So my reaction on this is, if you want to be an agent thats great but recognized how many people fail and waste many years chasing this dream. Darren has been nothing short of helpful to me these past couple of years!

Stay Awesome Bro

-Adopted Baby Bro

Before I got to the bottom of the post, I was going to say that I bet it feels as though we are brothers after all these years. I appreciate your words, as always, and am happy to hear about your successes.

Mr. Heitner! I absolutely love reading your post. It’s one of the first things I do every morning. I have a question and others if you have a comment I would gladly appreciate it as well. I’m an African American woman in the near future do you think there will be a woman in this business who will have the chance to be a”Super” agent? What are the advantages and disadvantages being a woman? Just need some advice! Thanks!

Hopefully my posts are published prior to you waking up. I do think that there is an opportunity for a woman to be a super agent. In fact, the phrase is subjective. I interned for a super agent years ago – Molly Fletcher. There are other female agents who are making great names for themselves. I think the main advantage is that women can be perceived to be more caring and “mother-like”, which athletes would probably enjoy. A negative is that this is a men’s game and the (wrong) belief that there is no room for women to compete.

Thanks Darren! Another question….Do you think there will be more women General Managers in the NFL? What steps should she take if trying to do so?

Couldn’t give you a good answer to that. Typically teams like promoting within. So the best advice is to start with a lower level position at that organization and rise through the ranks.

Great response to this kids question. On top of frequenting your website, another reaouce that has really helped me see the agent world for what it is is liteeature recommneded to me by my sports law professor Ges Selmont. He recommended License to Deal by Jerry Crasnick and i alao picked up The Business of sports Agents on my own accord. Both have been phenomethem nol reads and really recommend them to anyone trying to get a better look at this career path.

Hope all is well,

Eric Baker

Also in your opinion (race doesn’t matter) who are the best NFL agents in history? Who negotiates the best, creative, trendsetting contracts?

My husband has invested heavily with a man who claims to be the marketing representative for some athletes. I am sure this man is scamming him. How do I find this out? I see websites that list the sports agent for the sport part but can’t find anything on the endorsement/marketing agents. He keeps giving excuses and delays on why there is no money coming in. My husband is no help for me I know its because he has invested so much he doesn’t want to think otherwise.

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