Excerpt from “So You Want to be a Professional Athlete?”
- December 20, 2016
- Ayeni Law
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The following is an excerpt from my book “Born 2 BALL: So You Want to be A Professional Athlete?” I wrote the book to help educate high school, collegiate, and even professional athletes; whom I believe are generally not adequately prepared for life (especially those fortunate to reach the professional level). You can find a copy of my book HERE
An athlete/agent relationship is one that may last for several years, and often a lifetime. A sports agent is therefore an individual who will have access to your personal life and most intimate details. You must determine whether this person is someone to whom, you can entrust the most intimate details of your personal life, career, and family. An agent is someone who has a responsibility to, not only the athlete, but to the athlete’s family. The ability to communicate with your family is a quality that you want in an agent. Family members of millionaire athletes, often, have never had anywhere close to the amount of money that professional athletes will make over the course of their careers and, as a result, can cause the professional athletes to mismanage their money.
For example; family members and “friends” of professional athletes may say things like, “You’re a millionaire, you can afford to give me a few thousand dollars”. People who say things like this don’t realize that after paying close to 50% in taxes, paying fees to their business team, buying mama a new house and dad a new car, living expenses, and splurging, professional athletes cannot afford to give thousands of dollars to everyone who asks. Additionally, athletes who come from poor or disadvantaged upbringings often have survivors’ remorse; feeling bad that they have so much and the people around them or with whom they grew up have so little. As a result, they can have trouble saying no to people. The sports agent, along with other members of the athletes’ team, has to be able to communicate (respectfully) with the athletes’ family and protect his or her interests.
Another consideration professional athletes must have, is to be mindful of what the agent’s commitment to him will be after he retires. Many agents claim to assist athletes with post-career development, but you need to ask your agent – exactly how will you help me do this? Does the agent’s answer make sense to you? Does it justify the amount that you’re paying them? Another issue an athlete needs to consider is the culture of the sports agency under consideration. Athlete management is a unique field. Representing an athlete is definitely a business, but the time spent with the athlete can make it almost familial in nature. A professional athlete needs to determine what kind of sports agency he wants representing him. Does he want an agency that is more down to earth and has a “family-feel” or does he want an agency that is more corporate, representing over 900 players (no joke, some do), and treats them as a bank would?
There is no right or wrong answer; it all depends on what you, the professional athlete wants. Some athletes want agents and agencies that can give them personal and customized attention, while others just want a check in the mail. One thing to understand is that the size of the agency doesn’t matter as much as some may think or say. What matters is the quality of the agent and the skill, knowledge, and network. When it comes to contracts and endorsements, most agents can get a professional athlete similar dollar figures. Although most agents won’t say this, it’s the athlete who attracts the money – the agent just locates and demands it. Where agents distinguish themselves is the extra services they provide.
- By Elijah Adefope