The Career Profile Of A Sports Agent
Some people go through life wondering what their calling consist of. Some people know from beginning what they were born to do. I happened to be a part of the first group. Growing up I had many different passions, but when I graduated High School, I couldn’t quite figure out what I really wanted to do. It took years but I later found out that my purpose in life is to serve. I currently serve my country in the US Army. But I can’t stay in the Army forever. What will I do whenever I retire or decide to take off my uniform for good? How can I still serve? Then the idea came to me. Why not take my greatest passion and find a way to serve those that are in that industry? So, I decided that I would obtain my sports management degree to become a sports agent. To serve those that are the participants of the sport and make sure they are taken care of properly and not taken advantage of. My goal is to one day move into my next career as a sports-agent.
The job title is exactly what it is in the title of this paper, sports-agent. The career path I have chosen to pursue in this field is that of a sports-agent. A sports-agent’s job is to handle financial/legal matters on behalf of their client. Sports-agents are particularly influential in negotiations of contracts for their clients as well as producing the opportunity of endorsements for their clients. A sports-agent’s client could be the athlete themselves, a coach, general manager, or anyone else in the front office in the sport. The medium salary of a sports-agents is $66,000 annually for all clients represented. The salary would vary by how many clients a sports-agent has and the fee charged to those clients.
There is no real path to becoming sports-agent. Becoming a sports-agent could come from you having a personal relationship with someone that makes it to the professional ranks and that individual wants you to represent them because they know you would have their best interest at heart. Sometimes it is not required for a sports-agent to have a degree, but most sports-agents have at least a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management or Sports Business. To separate themselves from others, some sports-agents also obtain law degrees or degrees in the accounting/business fields. These extra tools can help when it comes to contract negotiations as far as understanding the wording of contracts as well as the numbers.
Depending on which league the sports-agent wants to represent clients in, the qualifications may vary. For example, the requirements to represent clients in the National Football League (NFL) are different than the requirements to represent clients in the National Basketball Association. The NFL requires a sports-agent to have an Undergraduate degree and Graduate degree in the form of either a Master’s or Law from an accredited college/university, to pay a non-refundable application fee of $2,500, attend a two-day seminar in which the sports-agent must pass a 60 question multiple-choice examination with a 70% or higher to represent clients in their league. In the NBA, a sports agent doesn’t have to own a Master’s or Law degree. In fact, a degree is not required at all, just their highest diploma received. Although the application fee is less in the NBA, the NBPA does require their agents to pay annual dues. A sports-agent must apply to each individual league they want to represent clients in and fulfill those requirements by each league in order to obtain league certification.
A relevant news story involving someone in this position would be that of Rich Paul. Rich Paul is a sports-agent for multiple athletes in the NBA. His most famous client is LeBron James. Rich Paul was recently involved in a major news story this past summer when the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) passed a certain rule this summer. Last year, the NCAA passed a rule that underclassman could test the NBA draft market and return with full eligibility even if they sought out guidance from agents, before last year it was against NCAA rules. However, this past summer on August 6, the NCAA tried to put restrictions on which agents the players could hire by enlisting different restrictions. These restrictions included passing an in-person exam administered at the NCAA national office in Indianapolis, the agent must have been certified by the NBAPA for the last three years, and the agent must have at least a bachelor’s degree. This story reached national news when LeBron James tweeted out a later that day calling these restrictions the “Rich Paul Rule”. Lebron James called the restrictions this because Rich Paul does not have a bachelor’s degree despite representing some of the most famous and best players in the NBA. The news story became bigger as more famous athletes and personalities spoke out against the NCAA. The NCAA a few days later retracted their requirements.
This position incorporates information related to several functional areas of sport management if not all. The functional areas of sports management that I will be focusing on will be marketing, finance and law. I will be focusing on these areas the most because I believe that these areas are the most important to the position.
Being a sports-agent is related to the functional area of marketing for several reasons. One major reason that a sports-agent is related to the functional area of marketing is because clients can obtain endorsements. Being endorsed by a company is a major accomplishment for athletes and can bring in lots of money, a lot of times more than the contract that the athlete receives for playing the sport that they play. This is a big job for the sports-agent because they must be able to market and sell how their client would be a great endorser for the company’s product.
Another functional area of sport management that relates to this position is finance and law. Finance relates to this position because the sports agent is the spokesperson for their client in contract negotiations rather it be with the team or in the event their client is being considered for an endorsement. Contract negotiations bring in the functional area of sports management that is law as well. The sports-agent must be able to read and understand the contract for their client so they can advise them on what they can and cannot do. Law also comes in handy when looking for a loophole in a contract for their client needs to get out of it.
The journal article I chose to do this part of my paper about is titled, Leveling the playing field for sports agents: How the two-hat theory and the model rules of professional conduct collide, written by Zach Schreiber. This article is about the advantages and disadvantages between sports-agents who have both a sports related degree and law degrees versus sports-agents who have just sports degrees. This article was published in a journal called Texas Review of Entertainment and Sports law in September of 2018. There are three parts of this article. Part I of the article explains sports-agent guidelines, portraying proposed and instituted laws, league requirements, and different frameworks set up to police the business. Since most of this information has already been disseminated in the early part of this paper, I will only cover Part II and Part III.
Part II examines the difficulties that agents with backgrounds in law face and the daunting task going against agents with no law backgrounds fighting to represent the same players, coaches, or other front office personnel. Specifically, the Model Rules of Professional Conduct put lawyers at a disadvantage through the clash of intrigue and sales rules. A lot of the rules that are in place restricts sports-agents that are also attorneys because they are restricted by rules in place by the American Bar Association (ABA). For example, the ABA restricts attorneys from being to represent two clients in a conflict with one another. This situation represents what is called a “conflict of interests.” This kind of situation could happen in the world of sports because during a contract negotiation, an attorney-agent could be representing both an athlete and a member of the front office. This would put that attorney-agent in a peculiar position because they could be seen as working too much for the benefit of the athlete or working too much to the benefit of the team.
Attorney-agents also face conflict when representing two clients vying for the same job. The argument would be, how could the attorney agent represent both equally if one client gets the job over the other. This is also common when it comes time for the negotiations of contracts for their clients. In a hard cap league, teams have a salary number every year, set by the league, that they are not allowed to go over without having to pay a luxury tax. The job of the agent is to try and make sure they can get the most or what is fair for their client. If an attorney-agent represents two or more clients on one team, they could be seen as trying to get more compensation for one client and not looking out for the best interests of their other clients. They would be essentially taking money out of the pockets of one client to give more money to another client. This is against the Moral Rules of Professional Conduct set by the ABA. This is what they call a “Zero-Sum Conflict.”
The last Moral Rule of Professional Conduct that being an attorney-agent violates basically deals with recruitment of clients. Like any other lawyer or firm, they are allowed to advertise their business, however they are not supposed to call or in person try and recruit clients. This is seen as solicitating professional employment with a specific motive. But unless the attorney-agent is already well known, they must recruit potential clients.
Part III talks about a “Two- hat” theory that proposes allowances that would evade these confinements for attorney-agents, and furthermore recommends potential changes to empower attorney-agents to contend on a level field against non-lawyer sports-agents in a business where the scales ought to be equal. This “Two-hat” theory proposes that the attorney-agent should be seen as wearing two hats when operating in their business. The individual would be seen as an agent when operating business that has to deal with clients on a business side and they would be seen as lawyers when operating business that has to do with the legal side, essentially putting on a “agents’ hat” or “lawyers’ hat.” This part of the article I disagree with. I believe that regardless the nature of the business being operated, the attorney-agent is what they are, an attorney and agent in one and not separated. I don’t believe a separation of the two is possible.
This information is useful to anyone who wants to get in the business of being a sports-agent. It allows them to see what kind of path they want to choose and any restrictions they may have to face in the future if they decide to be an attorney-agent. This article was written to raise awareness of what attorney-agents are going through and the potential changes that need to be made. One would want to know this information because they could want to be the pioneer in having these changes made.
My personal goals for my career are intertwined between my goal of becoming a sports-agent after achieving a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management and the goals I have set in my current career in the military. My short-term and long-term goals are all a part of my realistic action plan for achieving them. The following are the goals I have set and how I plan to make them become a reality.
I have already completed six years in the US Army. My short-term goal as of right now is to continue to serve my country while I keep getting promoted in this great organization. While I’m in the military, I can use the military’s Tuition Assistance program to continue my education and receive my bachelor’s degree in my desired major, Sports Management. With the where I currently stand, I can finish my degree within the next 2-3 years. I would continue to serve this great country, while using the military’s Tuition Assistance program to obtain a Law degree or a degree in business, finance, or accounting. Either degree would set me up for success in the future. If God sees fit, I would serve 20 years in the military and retire. During my time of service, I would have earned an Undergraduate and Graduate degree in which I would use in the next phase of my life. I would have also invested and saved up money needed to pay for different requirements needed to work in this industry. In the beginning I would like to work for a company to gain experience, but my ultimate goal is to branch out and be able to start my own sports agency. I believe I have a good feel for talent. I would most likely start out with low end talent that I believe can rise to the top. Representing them and seeing the work that I put in would later draw other clients to my agency. These are my goals and I believe wholeheartedly that I can achieve them and that this is the way for me to do it.
My personality profile is a bout Todd Ramasar. Todd Ramasar is an African American sports-agent that represents mainly players in the NBA. Ramasar grew up in Narco, A city in Southern Californias Riverside County. His parents came over as immigrants looking for the “American Dream.” His dad hailed from British Guiana, his mom from Haiti. Ramasar grew up with a mindset of working hard due to seeing his parents work hard to provide for he and his family.
During his high school days, Ramasar was two-sport athlete being recruited by lots of schools over the country to play basketball and football. With UCLA and basketball in his heart, he chose to attend school there even though he would have to walk on to the team. With the team being so good and them continuously bringing in four-and five-star recruits, Ramasar realized that no matter how hard he worked, he would not be good enough to make it to the professional ranks. With one of his friends on the team, Baron Davis, choosing to leave school early and enter the NBA draft, it made Ramasar want to look at the business side of the sport. With an eye towards learning as much as he could about speaking to athletes, he worked as an intern with Arn Tellem, one of the most dominant and powerful sports-agents.
After graduating UCLA in 2001, Ramasar went to Southwestern Law School. A year into law school he got an offer from his old teammate, Baron Davis, to work for him as his manager. Ramasar accepted and did such a good job, Davis wanted to hire him as his agent. Ramasar, the age of 22, Ramasar applied for his operators’ license. By the time of just 24 years of age, Ramasar representing several former teammates that turned pro. In 2008, Ramasar had blended his clients with Bill Duffy Associates and maintained his business under that umbrella, but since has returned to running his own shop as the CEO and President of Life Sports Media and Entertainment. Ramasar feels that being a former athlete and African American whose parents were immigrants gives him an advantage. It allows him to identify with his clients rather American or from a foreign country.
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