The role of the sports agent has been glorified in the media and in entertainment. While it is an exciting title to hold, especially for sports fanatics who have dreamed of one day putting their sports management degrees to use, the information that non-agents have about the agent role can be misguided.
Agents can run a sole proprietorship or they can work under the umbrella of an already established agency. Either way, their overall role involves much more than just negotiating high-priced contracts for their signed athletes. Before they can even represent an athlete or coach at any level, they must recruit. Here’s how sports agents recruit their clients:
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Identifying Prospective Athletes
One of the hardest parts of being a rookie sports agent is deciding what type of athlete to cater to. A majority of agents, especially those starting out, don’t have a long list of household names like Steph Curry, LeBron James, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers. It takes time and a lot of word of mouth for these high-profile players to put trust in a sports agent and to know they are fulfilling their legal duties.
Since it’s not realistic to be recruiting the most recognized athletes in the United States, sports agents have to start by identifying semi-pro players, international players, and college players who aren’t just looking for a high-profile agency name. In addition to that, the best agents won’t take each and every athlete that comes through their door. They are looking for great clients who have the skill, talent, and athleticism it takes to succeed beyond college.
Getting Player Intel
To really know who is going to possess the talent and character traits to make it past a school and into the big leagues, an agent is going to need intel. It’s easy to wonder how a sports agent can find all of this out about a prospective client. The simple answer is that agents on the market to find clients are going to need to have other connections. The more reliable the connection, the better.
Most commonly, sports agents will work directly with area scouts who have been ranking athletes since middle school and watching talent levels take-off in college. These scouts have the most thorough reports on players and know which kids have that real passion to make it.
It can also be helpful to get character information from past coaches, college directors, and General Managers. By sharing information with agents, it keeps the scouts secure in the industry and also helps GM’s get good selections of undrafted players.
Social Media Branding
Players may present themselves as respectable young men and women in front of their coaches and recruiters, but one way for agents to really see what kind of relationship they could be in store for is to check social media. If the athlete’s online presence shows the client engaging in illegal activities, the agent might stray. What is and is not on Facebook and Twitter can make all the difference.
According to Forbes, the world’s most powerful agents earn upwards of $100 million in commissions. It takes that one big athlete to score big. Finding a sleeper pick requires a lot of research, Intel, and even a gut feeling. Some of the highest drafts picks ended up being a bust in the pros. This is why sports agents need to consider a lot more than just college performance when recruiting their long-standing clients.