Sports agents are high-profile professionals who represent athletes on a variety of different levels. Their primary mission is to negotiate contracts with sports teams and secure endorsement deals on behalf of their clients. Many aspiring sports agents pursue a career path that includes a degree in sports management. Program curriculum typically includes sports marketing, business law, finance and kinesiology.
A Look at the Top Agents in Sports
The lifestyle of a successful sports agent can be glamorous and financially rewarding, but it takes a proper education, exceptional communication skills and experience to reach that level. Studying the career paths of the top sports agents in the field can offer insight into the challenges and accomplishments of those who have reached the pinnacle of success in their chosen profession.
Scott Boras is generally considered the top agent in all of sports. Boras played four years of minor league baseball before earning his law degree from the McGeorge School of Law. Boras is noted for his ability to negotiate record breaking contracts for his clients, which is especially difficult since baseball club owners and general managers are resistant to setting new salary precedents. Boras’ unique negotiating strategies for the draft, free agency and salary arbitration have proven to be so successful that Major League Baseball has changed certain rules in response. Boras has represented countless famous players including Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Greg Maddux.
Tom Condon is a sports agent with extraordinary influence in the National Football League. Condon played in the NFL for 12 years and represented several players while he was still active. While at IMG, a leading talent management firm, Condon helped the agency negotiate the contracts of more first-round draft picks than any other competitor. One of his most notable achievements was securing a 98 million dollar deal for Peyton Manning, including a $34 million dollar guaranteed signing bonus. Condon currently represents some of most well-known players in the NFL such as Eli Manning, Drew Brees and Dez Bryant.
Drew Rosenhaus graduated from the Duke University School of Law in 1990 and registered as an agent at the age of 22. Rosenhaus is probably the most well-known sports agent, and he has frequently used the media to help enhance the negotiating position of his clients. Skilled and expeditious, Rosenhaus once negotiated over 90 contracts in a single month after the 2011 NFL lockout ended. He has published two books and has appeared on a number of TV networks such as ESPN, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. Current clients include Rob Gronkowski, LeSean McCoy and Frank Gore.
Rob Pelinka was the 1993 NCAA Scholar Athlete of the Year and played in two Final Four games as part of the University of Michigan basketball team. He earned a law degree from the University of Michigan, and he parlayed his contacts from college basketball into a successful career as a sports agent. Pelinka had the good fortune to work with industry legend Arn Tellem, who was also a University of Michigan alumnus. Eventually, Pelinka became Kobe Bryant’s agent and currently represents a number of high-profile players including James Hardin, Andre Iguodala and Derrick Williams.
Mark Steinberg decided to become a sports agent instead of a lawyer while serving a summer internship with IMG. He began working in the team sports and golf department where he signed successful golfers Michelle McGann and Karrie Webb. He gained substantial credibility in the industry when he was chosen to represent Anika Sorenstam, who won the U.S. Women’s Open in 1995. In 1998, Steinberg enjoyed his greatest professional accomplishment when Tiger Woods elected to sign with IMF. With Stenberg’s guidance, Woods transcended golf and became his own brand. Today, Steinberg represents a number of the most prominent names in professional golf.
The Sports Agent’s Career Path
While there are no formal educational requirements to become a sports agent, the vast majority of those working in this field have at least earned an undergraduate degree. In the past, having a law degree was almost a prerequisite, but many prominent universities now offer sports management degree programs that provide a viable alternative avenue for those looking to enter the profession.