Looking Back At 2013 And Ahead To 2014

On this December 31, 2013, I will not only celebrate the introduction of a new calendar year, but also the eight year anniversary of Sports Agent Blog’s creation.  A seemingly simple “blog” at the time, the website has turned into the most reputable source for sports agent-related news and provided me enhanced credibility in the business of sports.  I never could have imagined that Sports Agent Blog (originally titled, I Want to be a Sports Agent, and found at a sub-domain on a website I used to promote nightclubs in Gainesville, Florida) would actually become a profitable venture; my only desire in 2005 was to become more educated about the industry I found to be fascinating and maybe make some connections with those entrenched in the sector.  Eight years later and I have created and sustained many more relationships than predicted and I must devote a large chunk of my success to the somewhat ignorant venture.  Recently I have “handed over the keys” to many new contributors in an effort to allow each of them to grow their personal brands in the sports business field and give me more time to work on other opportunities.  This is a trend I hope to continue in 2014.

Sports Agent Blog was not the only publication that I grew with in 2013.  On May 3, 2012, I received an unsolicited email from an Executive Producer, Content Development at Forbes Media LLC.  The subject read, “from Forbes.”  It seems rather innocuous, so I opened it.  Within was the following:

Mr. Heitner, hello –

You have a few fans here in the editorial dept. and we were wondering if you’d have any interest in becoming a contributor to Forbes.

I’m certain you’re plenty busy, but I’d regret not reaching out to you to gauge your interest.

Let me know if you have some time to talk.

I purposefully waited many minutes before responding with my cell phone number.  Obviously, I was thrilled to start.  It has been more than a year-and-a-half, and I am blessed to remain as a Forbes contributor, focusing on the SportsMoney beat.  It has allowed me to expand my writing beyond just sports agency and Sports Law related items to the more general and expansive area of sports business.  Many new relationships have been built in the process and I believe I have been able to take my writing to a new level.  My greatest joy thus far as a contributor was recently receiving an email from my editor who said, “Gotta say, you’ve had a really great year. Can’t wait to see what comes next with you. Thanks for being part of all this.”

Writing was only one component of a broad array of businesses I focused on in 2013.  My legal practice developed into something I could have only once dreamed of.  I was able to win a major battle representing a football agent against the NFL Players’ Association and prove that the players’ association improperly used its own rules against my client, recovered a great sum money for a major sports agent who had not been paid his agent commissions by his former client, settled numerous cases leading to relief that my clients always appreciated and added value through drafting, negotiating and revising complex contracts.  There were tough times, such as representing a former University of Miami player in a battle against the NCAA.  But at the end of the day, the experiences of 2013 were amazing and I am blessed with the best clientele in the world.  One trend that seems to have recently developed is an expansion into representing many models based in Miami.  I have no problem if that trend continues.

One of the best days of my life was the day I received this honor.
One of the best days of my life was the day I received this honor.

The most memorable moment in my legal practice was probably at the very start of 2013, when I was offered the opportunity to become a partner at my law firm.  I would not necessarily say that it came as a shock, but it was certainly an honor.  At the time, I was in the middle of my third year practicing law — quite a bit early for earning such a distinction.  Becoming partner has included added responsibility, but also opened many doors.  I am forever thankful for the opportunity.  Then, in July, I was informed that I was selected as a 2013 Rising Star by a Daily Business Review panel of judges and am among the 40 young attorneys with the highest ratings.  I was the youngest attorney to win the award.

What used to be a sports agency created in April 2007 changed to a consulting company in 2013.  The company formerly known as Dynasty Athlete Representation, LLC officially changed to Dynasty Dealings, LLC.  It now consults for a broad array of sports businesses including FanHold and Athlete Originals.  I fully expect this consulting business to continue to gain clientele in 2014.

Another year of teaching is now in the books.  The conclusion of 2013 marks the end of three years of serving as a Professor of Sport Agency Management at Indiana University Bloomington.  Near the tail-end of the semester I began to have second thoughts about continuing to teach.  It is a major burden to prepare and then actually spend the time lecturing (especially being paid what adjuncts are compensated).  However, a few emails I received from students at the end of the term have me rethinking my initial decision.  For instance, this note from a student just made me pause: “Our class was the best course I have ever taken at IU and I really enjoyed your expertise and knowledge on the topic of Sports Agency. I ended up getting the internship with [name redacted] thanks to the email you sent us earlier this semester. I couldn’t thank you enough! This profession is exactly what I want to do in life and you were the ultimate stepping stone and help to launch me into the profession.”  It is hard to step away after reading something like that.

2014 promises to bring many more exciting moments.  At the end of February, I will be sitting to take the New York Bar.  After completing the Florida Bar, I promised myself that I would never go through the torture of taking another bar exam.  I have already broken that promise.  I have started to pick up some clients and cases based in New York and think that adding this certification will benefit my practice.

Perhaps the thing I am most looking forward to in 2014 is the release of my first book (other than the one wherein I was a Contributing Author) called How to Play the Game.  It is intended to be a Sports Law-related book for an audience of sports enthusiasts that wish to discover what goes on behind the game.  The book is being published by the American Bar Association and it appears that it will be available as early as March or April of 2014.

I already have plans to speak at a variety of institutions of higher education, including Chapman Law, New York Law and Fordham Law — all in February (the same month that I am supposed to be taking the New York Bar Exam).  I will also be returning to my alma mater to be the Keynote Speaker at the University of Florida’s 2014 Sports Law Symposium to be held in April.

Overall, 2013 was an overwhelming success.  2014 looks even brighter.  Thanks for being a part of my life.

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.