Sports Agency Industry In today’s world, the subject of sport has become highly discussed and more popular when compared to the past. With the increase in obesity rates in America, a greater number of individuals are taking part in physical activities to help improve their health. Media coverage on sports has also increased dramatically throughout the years which may also have been a contributor to the increase in popularity.
This increase in the popularity of sports has opened many doors to new career opportunities such as sport broadcasting, sport photography, health club management, or professional scouting. With all of these sport-related career opportunities available, this paper will concentrate on one particular profession that is very important to an individual’s athletic career: sport agents. In order to understand what a sport agent is, we must first understand the concept of an agent.
An agent is defined as “a person authorized by another to act for him, one entrusted with another’s business” (Staudohar, 2006); thus, a sport agent represents most individuals involved in the sport industry, including athletes in sports such as football, baseball, or figure skating, and also coaches and sport broadcasters. A sport agent has many responsibilities and their main goal is to do what is best for their client. Firstly, there are two generic categories that sport agents are able to represent: individual sport athletes, such as golf or tennis, and team sport athletes, such as baseball, football, or basketball.
Their main objective is to provide services to the athlete to promote his or her athletic career and to engage in business transactions on the athlete’s behalf. When promoting the athlete, the sport agent is responsible for soliciting and arranging product endorsements, speaking engagements, and other uses of the athlete’s name and image for commercial purposes. He or she should also promote the athlete’s career through public relations, media coverage, and charitable activities (Staudohar, 2006).
Getting the athlete’s name out into the public is critical because the athlete is nothing if the general public does not know who he or she is. The athlete’s overall image is one of the most important factors that will affect their career; thus, having the athlete involved in charitable activities will help build a reputable image that fans and the general public can approve of and look up to. Television has made the athlete a more marketable commodity and endorsements, too, have grown tremendously (Coenen, 2002).
A sport agent will also be responsible for providing financial management services for the athlete, such as tax advice, estate planning, career planning, and making arrangements for the sale of stocks, bonds, real estate, and other investments. An athlete typically has a five to ten year income earning span; thus, it is important for the sport agent to financially prepare the athlete for the future and to counsel the athlete about his or her post-career years.
In addition to athletes, sport agents are also able to represent coaches as mentioned earlier. IMG, founded in the early 1960s by Mark McCormack, was the first full-service agency in sports and it currently has over one thousand clients which include both athletes and coaches. IMG offers a practice dedicated solely to the representation of coaches where they will negotiate to protect the business, legal and financial interests of the coaches, and also provide extensive athletic administrator and media contacts (IMG World, 2009).
Aside from everything, the most important responsibility of a sport agent is to deal with the negotiation of the athlete’s contract with the club, including salary, incentives, bonuses, guarantees, no-trade clauses, and the length of contract (Staudohar, 2006). The negotiation of an athlete’s contract is very important to a sport agent because a large portion of the agent’s annual income depends on how well the contract falls through. One of the greatest perks of being a sport agent is that successful sport agents have the potential to make a large amount of income.
With the dramatic increase in player and marketing contracts over the last two decades, the sports agent industry has been taken to new heights and sport agents are in full control of their salary. Major league sports are big business and it is common for successful sports agents to make well over one million dollars per year. All it takes is one client and you can build a very fulfilling and rewarding sports agent career (Become a Sports Agent, 2009). A sport agent typically makes three to four percent of the negotiated contracts of the athletes; however, it varies from sport to sport.
The National Football League (NFL) sets a three percent limit; whereas baseball has no limit, but three to five percent is typical. In the National Basketball Association (NBA) the range is two to four percent; however, the 1999 collective bargaining agreement has somewhat diminished the negotiating role for agents. Ceilings were placed on individual player salaries and because of these limits, the athlete is more likely to handle his or her own salary negotiation with the club, rather than paying an agent a percentage of the total value of the contract (Staudohar, 2006).
This is an example of a win or lose situation for sport agents. There is never a concrete answer to the amount of money a sport agent is able to earn; it varies from client to client. The sport agent profession is very risky and it has a lot of other difficult challenges. The sport industry is flooded with agents and large sport agencies. There is about two or three times as many agents as there are players in the National Football League (Fenech & Dailey, 2003); thus, the business can become quite competitive at times.
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a voluntary organization through which colleges and universities govern their athletics programs, has strict regulations as to how sport agents are to treat their clients. The NCAA strictly prohibits payments of gifts of any kind; however, under-the-table transactions are hard to detect (National Collegiate Athletic Association, 2009). Intense competition for clients has caused sport agents to induce amateur athletes with bribes in hopes of signing with them.
Agents have provided cars, clothing, shoes, gift certificates, women, airline tickets, drugs, and cash to attract the attention of players and their families (Coenen, 2002). Several of these wrongdoings by agents have surfaced and have become highly publicized; thus, giving sport agents a bad name and reputation. Those who are interested in pursuing a career in the sports agency industry must be dedicated and hardworking in order to surpass all of these challenges. Any individual is able to become a sport agent as long as they are passionate about their work. You do not need to be certified to become a sports agent. If you would like to represent athletes from the four major sports leagues MLB, NBA, NFL or NHL, you will need to become certified with those respective organizations” (Become a Sports Agent, 2009). For early preparation, it would be valuable for the individual to coach a sports team so that he or she can understand everything involved on and off of the playing field. Working in a marketing firm will also be beneficial because it will give them a chance to familiarize themselves with all of the logistics involved.
Nevertheless, a sport agent has many responsibilities and this profession may not be for everyone. Their main goal is to represent their client and to promote them at any means necessary. A number of challenges and difficulties will also surface, so the individual must have dedication, determination, and passion for this profession. In addition, sport agents carry the stigma of being untrustworthy; thus, he or she will have to work twice as hard in order to get clients, the general public, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association to look pass these superstitions.
A profession in the sports agency industry is secured and stable because the sport industry is forever growing and is now more popular than ever. In conclusion, if you are looking for a job that is fun, rewarding, and at times challenging, then this is the job for you. References Staudohar, D. P. (2006). So you want to be a sports agent. Labor Law Journal, 246-256. Coenen, R. C. (2002). The business of sports agents. The International Journal of the History of Sport, 300-301. IMG World. (2009) Client Management.
Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://www. imgworld. com/sports/client_management/coaches. sps Become a Sports Agent. (2009) Sports Agent Career. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://www. become-a-sports-agent. com/career. asp Fenech, C. , Dailey, J. (2003). An interview with craig fenech, sport agent and attorney. International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, 75-79. National Collegiate Athletic Association. (2009) NCAA Organizational Overview. Retrieved February 11, 2009, from http://www. ncaa. org/wps/ncaa? ContentID=435