Pursuing a Career as a Sports Agent

Photo Credit: Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE
Pursuing a career in sports agency can be a worthwhile career path for individuals interested in the business side of sports.

The only problem with this career path is that the blueprint of how to start a career in sports agency is not set in stone. Sports agents often come from multiple different backgrounds.

Let’s take a look at what it takes to become a sports agent:

What Does a Sports Agent Do?

A sports agent’s primary responsibility is to negotiate contracts between their client and the team. They will also typically handle contract negotiations when their client is being considered for an endorsement deal by a particular company. Their other day-to-day tasks include recruiting new talent, marketing and promotion.

Leigh Steinberg, who has represented a record eight #1 picks in the NFL Draft, has said that good agent will have the ability to develop a good relationship with their clients and teams in order to get a better understanding of the needs of both parties.

Steinberg went on to mention how important it is to not take the spotlight away from the player. Some of the best agents do most of their work behind the scenes.

Sports Agent Education

Generally speaking, there aren’t any degree requirements to become a sports agent. Though since the industry is so competitive, agents typically have at least a bachelor’s degree. The top sports agents are usually holders of a master’s degree and many have a law degree.

Here are three disciplines where a master’s degree can be beneficial for becoming a sports agent:

  • Sport Management – A master’s degree in sport management can give you the tools necessary to become an expert in all things sports.

  • Law – A law degree can give you the legal expertise to master contract and endorsement negotiations.

  • Business – A business degree will help you to develop the skills necessary in order to navigate the business side of sports.

While these degrees offer certain advantages, there is no right or wrong degree path for becoming a sports agent. The key for determining which degree path is right for you to pursue a career as a sports agent is to know your strength and use your degree to strengthen your weaknesses.

Other than conventional education, a sports agent must have extensive knowledge of league rules.

Staying up to date on league salary caps, salary minimums and maximums, and knowing the rules behind transactions is crucial to the success of your client.

Another large part of being an agent is scouting and recruiting athletes as potential clients. This means that prospective agents should have a high level knowledge of the intricacies of the sport that their potential clients compete in.

This knowledge will allow an agent to relate to and connect with their clients. An agent’s success is only as good as their client’s success on the field, so it is extremely pertinent for an agent to have the ability to identify talented individuals.

Licensing and Certification

A sports agent must be certified with the league in which the client that they are representing is competing in. There is no universal sports agent license, but most states require some sort of certification.

Many states also require that agents obtain professional liability insurance. Most of the major professional sports leagues have their own certifications required to represent players in their leagues. For example, let’s take a look at the certification requirements that the NFLPA requires for prospective agents.

  • Hold both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from an accredited college or university.

  • For those who do not hold one or both of the degrees, they will make an exception for candidates that have a minimum of seven years of negotiating experience.

  • Paying an application fee of $2,500

  • Completing a background investigation

  • Attendance at a two day seminar

  • Successful completion of a written proctored examination

Starting Your Career

The first stepping stone in becoming a sports agent is usually participating in some sort of internship or job shadowing program with a sports agency. This will then give you the necessary experience required for an entry level position.

Entry level sports agents usually start working full time at a large sports agency firm.

You will likely work in a team that operates in a supportive role of a much more experienced agent. Another entry-level role would entail scouting and recruiting athletes in order to gather a list of potential new clients.

From this, it is clear that there are multiple paths to becoming a sports agent. Sports agency is a highly competitive industry, so candidates will need to work hard to distinguish themselves from the pack.

Sports agents come from many different educational backgrounds, whether that be in sports, law or business. Agents must also be mindful of the various licensing and certification procedures in the sports agent industry.

They key to becoming a sports agent is to determine which path is right for you.
By Timothy Ufer | November 29, 2017
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