Sports agents act as important intermediaries between athletes and management. Since players are often very young, they naturally have a disadvantage in negotiations compared to hiring executives with advanced educations and decades of experience. Sports agents, therefore, help athletes earn what they deserve by advocating and negotiating on their behalf in exchange for a commission. There is no end in sight for professional sports, so individuals who specialize as sports agents can look forward to a wide range of sustainable and lucrative career opportunities.
1. Business Acumen
Sports agents are responsible for the business side of athlete employment contracts, so they need to possess strong business skills to act effectively in this capacity. Many sports agents earn business degrees in management, finance, or marketing. Moreover, universities sometimes offer sports management majors, and these specialized degrees can be ideal for students who are sure that they want to pursue a career in sports. Business acumen can also be acquired outside the classroom, such as through professional training and entrepreneurial endeavors, but students must be able to translate their informal training into tangible evidence of credibility in order to find employment.
2. Social Intelligence
Effective communication is critical for sports agents because they have to simultaneously manage the interests, perceptions, and emotions of a wide range of stakeholders. Players demand an agent who can form close relationships and adapt negotiation strategies to their personal financial and career goals. Management is most willing to work with an agent who can empathize with their needs and request reasonable concessions. Social intelligence, therefore, is one of the primary facilitators of career success as a sports agent because this characteristic can help to successfully close more contracts.
3. Negotiation Skills
Social intelligence helps drive negotiation skills, which are another essential characteristic of a sports agent. While negotiation skills can be learned, it can be helpful when agents enter the sports management field with an existing track record in negotiations. Many sports agents hone their negotiation skills by starting out with a job that requires tough negotiations on a routine basis.
4. Passion for Sports
All professions require passion to succeed, so students who are considering a career as a sports agent should ensure that they possess sufficient passion for all of their future responsibilities. While passion for business and negotiations is an initial requirement, sports agents must also have a passion for the athletes they serve and the entertainment they facilitate. Students who are unsure about their level of passion should consider finding an internship to gauge their interest before committing to a life in sports.
5. Good Public Image
Every detail of sports is scrutinized by the press and the public. Prospective sports agents, therefore, need to feel comfortable giving statements to the public and the media. The necessity of public communications also means that sports agents must appear presentable and express words with confidence. Since sports agents will find themselves in the spotlight, they can also expect their history to be examined thoroughly by researchers and the press. Students who hope to become sports agents should make sure that they feel comfortable about the prospect of becoming a public figure before moving forward with a future in sports.
First Steps for Sports Agents
Connections are the primary channel through which sports agents find their clients. Future agents, therefore, can start nurturing contacts before starting their degree program. Contacts can also lead to employment and mentorships. Students who take the time to nurture contacts and develop a careful plan for moving forward can anticipate a bright future as a sports agent.