Op-Ed: Sports Agent Reflects On Jovan Belcher Tragedy

The following guest post is by Travis Bell, an NBPA and CFLPA certified Contract Advisor and owner of The Seven Bridges Group based in Newport Beach, CA.

Dec 1, 2012; A few fans placed a sign outside Kansas City Chiefs practice facility the evening that Chiefs player Jovan Belcher (not pictured) committed a murder and suicide. Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

This past Saturday morning was just like any other Saturday morning during the 1st week of December. I was looking forward to the SEC Championship game and the ACC Championship game featuring my alma mater, Florida State. And what Saturday would be complete without my De La Salle Spartans going after their 21st straight North Coast Section championship?  Even though we had powerful storms here on the West Coast, I was in great spirits.

However, the good vibe was shattered when the news about Kansas City Chiefs Linebacker Jovan Belcher hit the wires. There are no words to describe the pure shock, disbelief and horror I felt as the story unfolded. I didn’t know Jovan, and to be honest with you had never even heard of him before Saturday, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that 2 young people are gone and families, friends and teammates’ lives are changed forever.

We may never know the true story of what led to this tragedy.  We may never know if this could have been avoided. We may not even know if there were warning signs missed.  What we do know is athletes are human and have feelings, emotions, and moments of indiscretion.

As agents, and I’ve been guilty of this was well, we tend to look at our clients in terms of what they mean on the field, court or diamond. Looking towards that roster bonus, extension, incentives, and new contract.

That’s fine, that’s our job, but like I said in the aftermath of the Junior Seau tragedy, what about the soft skills? This world can be cruel, a rat race and unforgiving. We’ve put so much emphasis on concussions and their impact, and rightfully so, but as Contract Advisors let’s ask ourselves what more can we do. Is it matter of limiting our client base to ensure we can provide personal service, a matter of employing Client Relationship Managers to support our clients?

I don’t have the answer, but its high time to embark on a mission to discover answers and protect our clients.

Happy Holidays

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 “Op-Ed: Sports Agent Reflects On Jovan Belcher Tragedy”

I am a prospective sports agent taking classes at Concordia and with SMWW where the emphasis in education focuses on the soft side of the job. I agree and is oddly enough one of the reasons why I hope to be a sports agent. I want to offer a moral and compassionate side to the business and support athletes who struggle in these areas. As a former school teacher the idea of social/ emotional education was debated. In the absence of the social/ emotional education recieved at home, I think it is important for these young athletes to recieve some type of support as their lives suddenly change. I speak to my son about Byron Buxton who became an instant millionaire one month after going to prom. I believe it is the sports agent obligation to prepare him for the life ahead that he could never have truely concieved.

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