The concept of the sports agent responsibilities remains the same in all types of sports.
There is actually a lot going on behind the scenes that the public don’t know about. From how a business or sponsorship agreement starts and comes to an end, to how a sports agent is taking part in negotiations between clubs or sponsors and athletes. When we talk about sports agents, it does not matter if its a football agent, soccer agent, player agent, basketball agent and so on.
Nowadays, every once in a while, we read several announcements in the media concerning athletes who have signed with a club or an endorsement deal or have simply renewed their employment contract. After we read those announcements, we consider it logical because it’s kind of natural thing now. What most of us don’t know though, is that for those agreements to be publicly announced, there is a lot going on in the background and a sports agent plays an important role in those deals.
There are several types of athletes, from world-class down to country-class known. No matter though the sport or the athletes and their prestige, all athletes have responsibilities towards their sport and their employers. The same applies for a sports agent towards athletes.
The overall focus of this post is to explain what athletes should truly expect from a sports agent and to help them pick a sports agent by analyzing this subject in more depth. At the same time this post can help people that might be interested becoming sports agents. I will be explaining the responsibilities of a sports agent, the qualities that he/she must have, the types of sports agents out there and how to find one.
What is a Sports Agent After All
First thing first. Understanding what is a sports agent.
Sports agents have entered the sports business circle many years ago, when things were easier to handle and less competitive as now. In today sports, things have changed to an increased competition between sports agents, but only one aspect has remained the same. Sports agents have kept their key role in every athlete’s step. Plus, they became an integral part of the whole sport business.
Some athletes characterize them as a father or best friend or mentor or even a brother, as this is the kind of relationship they create with time. Some others though might have standard relationship and just want assistance with things to be done.
Keep in mind that sports agents are not clubs or companies who can press a button and move things around whenever or however they like. They are people who do their job to the maximum and always try to find the best solutions for their athletes.
The formal term for a sports agent is: a legal representative of athletes or coaches, that acts on their behalf and negotiates their employment or endorsement contract agreements.
But let me tell you.. It is much more than that!!
Sports Agent Responsibilities
The responsibilities of a sports agent are way too much if you ask me, but this definitely comes with the job. A sports agent that respects him/herself and his/her athletes means that he/she will work his/her butt off to achieve the best possible results. For people who think that this is an easy job, let me tell you that it is not!
There are a lot of main responsibilities that are well-known to athletes, but at the same time there are lots of other things needed to be covered by a sports agent, in assisting the athletes to achieve their goals. See the responsibilities below:
– Loves the job and the sport itself.
– Has an impeccable reputation (has no involvement in frauds, betting or criminal background).
– Has a sport certification/license issued by the country’s association.
– Has a strong knowledge of the sport and he/she is up to date with all information and laws.
– Goes beyond the extra mile for athletes.
– Acts as an adviser and mentor with logic, not with money driven ideas.
– Gets into the shoes of athletes and understands the do and don’t.
– Knows how to act in a bad situation and works as a shield for the athletes.
– Has a very good country-wide network.
– Knows how to handle athletes contracts and paperwork (no need to be a lawyer for that).
– Represents athletes in business deals and works for their best interests.
– Finds the best deals but always with the consent of the athletes.
– Negotiating on athletes behalf and handling things in the right manner, without hurting the reputation of the athletes.
– Being able to handle multiple tasks at the same time.
Qualities a Sports Agent Must Have
Many times the qualities of a sports agent are judged by his/her character and despite every person’s uniqueness, a sports agent must definitely have the below qualities:
– Honesty: Always saying the truth. A sports agent should be the voice of honesty when comes to judging either your performance or a business deal. Lying is not an option here as this will boomerang any future possibilities for your career. Someone that will offer you the moon and the sky just to try to sign you, does not sound logical or honest. Someone that will talk to you honestly about what he can and can’t do for you, or honestly judging your performances in order to help you improve, sounds better. Right?
– Reputation: When a sports agent is respected by his/her fellow sports agents, the sport clubs and companies he is dealing with or his/her current clients, then it means you have the right agent in front of you. Keep in mind that the size of the sport agent (if he is a well know sports agent or not) does not matter here. The point is to have a respected reputation. Just pick up the phone and call people you know withing your sport and you can easily figure that out. Just ask around.
– Trust: Your sports agent is someone that you should feel able to trust. And vise versa. Trust definitely comes with time and by proofs during your career. When a sports agent is by the side of his/her athlete at either good or bad situations, this shows trust. Sign with a sports agent that is going to be your best career choice and it feels 100% right after you speak with him/her.
– Respect: A lot of athletes change sports agents during their career and there is one main reason for that. They don’t feel respected from their sports agent. What I mean by that.. Would you matter for your sports agent? Does he/she has a lot of clients and you are not getting the right attention for your career? That’s what you should be asking yourself. Find a sport agent that will respect you with the way he/she respects all of his/her clients. Stars or no stars. Pros or no Pros.
– Listening: The best sports agents actually listen to their athletes. They don’t act however they like or according to their pockets interests. They listen and act for your best interests and concerns.
– Accessibility: A sports agent must be reachable when you need him/her. You should be able to reach him/her either by phone or text. A sports agent job is not 9-5 working hours but a 24/7.
– Mentoring: This aspect is considered an ongoing one during an athlete’s career to even post career. During your career you will need psychological, financial, commercial or sponsorship advises and the best mentor to provide that, should be your sports agent.
Types of Sports Agents
There are usually five (5) types of sports agents, no matter the sport or the country they are based. I will explain each one below:
1) The wannabe-sports agent: We usually find this type in all kind of jobs. They think it’s an easy job to perform with minimum effort and no license or certification. They don’t actually know the regulations or details of sports law and contracts. They consider it as a side job that will increase their bank accounts. When they realize the difficulties of the job they just disappear. This type is really the most dangerous for your career, prestige and relationships within your sport.
2) The family/parent-sports agent: When a member of the family of an athlete, acts as his/her sports agent. It’s usually the father or the brother and in some cases the mother. A family member cannot get the best possible deals for you. They usually act with their feelings and that’s bad for business. Either by accepting fewer salaries in contracts and endorsements or dismissing a very good deal because they believe it was not fair enough or judging you wrongly on your performances as they don’t want to hurt your feelings. They cannot see the whole picture as an outsider nor they know the sports market well. A parent’s job is to be the parent for his/her child.
3) The lawyer-sports agent: They have deep knowledge of the sports laws and know very well how to handle contracts and paperwork. This does not necessarily mean they know a lot about the sport. They usually cannot help with your performance improvement or advice you on anything related to competition.
4) The sports agent: The type of person who has very good knowledge of the sports laws and at the same time loves the sport. Someone who’s main job of income is being a sports agent. Has being in the business for some years now and knows how to handle things correctly. Can advise you on your performance. Has done deals for athletes either in the country or abroad and has experience working with them. This type of sports agents depends on the qualities they demonstrate (as stated above) and this must definitely be taken into account.
5) The super-sports agent/agency: The well-known sports agent who either works alone with 20-30 top athletes or works withing a big sports agency together with other well-known sports agents. Sounds great when you are already an established pro athlete and can bring millions in the sports agency. What happens if you are a rookie and you need assistance to improve your performance or deal with low contract salaries? Would the super sports agent give you the right attention and help you through? This shall be taken into serious account.
How to Choose a Sports Agent
I am guessing that after you read all the above, you will be wondering.. How on earth will I find the correct sports agent to work with, that will cover my needs and standards? I will give you some steps you can follow, in order to help you choose the right sports agent for you, who will represent you not only as an athlete but as a person too.
– Sports agent directory: Call your sports federation and ask them to email you the list of certified sports agents.
– Web search: Start searching any information you find on the web from the list of certified sports agents you got from your federation. Check their company web page, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter accounts. You will be surprised of how much information you can easily find.
– Limit your list: After performing the web background check, make a shortlist with the best options that makes sense to you.
– Ask your teammates: By asking them of certain sports agents names, they might be giving you information or stories that is impossible to find through the web searching. And always double check the information they will give you.
– Ask your coaches: Ask the coaches you trust the most for references on certain sports agents. You will again probably get lots of information that will help you limit your shortlist even more.
– Arrange a face to face meeting (or video call): After you get all of your information, pick up the phone and arrange a face to face meeting with the ones willing to meet you. When talking to sports agents you can find out what they really are and how much you can relate to them.
– Choose the best one for you: Don’t sign with a sports agent that tells you what you want to hear or that will promise you money to sign with him/her. Or just because someone else told you so. Judge the situation by your self. You will realize if their only concern is making fast money out of you or they actually want to help you out and then make money. Choose the sports agent that you can relate with the most and that could help you throughout your whole career, not just for a few months.
Many people believe that sports agents are shady, they make thousands or millions and never act upon the best interests of their athletes. That is totally wrong to be honest. In every single job, we find individuals that act only with their pocket interests but not all people are the same. There are a lot of decent sports agents in all over the world and you just need to find the right one that fits your ideas and needs.
I do hope that all these information has given you a clear idea on what a sports agent is and why it is important to find the right one, who will care for your best interests. It is one option for an athlete to negotiate by himself and a whole different option for a sports agent to negotiate on an athlete’s behalf. In tons of aspects. After that being said, you should keep in mind that a sports agent responsibilities and qualities are the most important when comes to choosing whom to work with.
Some sport insiders say that an athlete is were he is now because of his sports agent. Some others, discuss on how a sports agent has destroyed an athlete’s career. At the end of the day though, the success of an athlete depends on the athlete, his/her performance and the work being done by the sports agent.
So, to all athletes and parents of athletes out there! Choose your sports agent wisely and keep all the information above in your head. After all, it’s your future we are talking about!
And to all people that might be interested in becoming a sports agent! Treat this job seriously and with good ethic. Always respect your self and your clients!
P.S. Feel free to share this post and leave a comment below with any questions or ideas or even your own experiences. I would be happy to hear from you.