The Coach Behind The Scenes

Posted: October 17, 2011 in Uncategorized

This last Tuesday ESPN aired a documentary from their feature “30 for 30” series, which consists of memorable moments in the history of sports.  The most recent documentary released Tuesday titled “The Dotted Line”, follows prospective professional athletes as they negotiate the terms of their future contracts.  However, it wasn’t the athletes doing the negotiating.  Ladies and gentleman it is my pleasure to introduce; sports agents.

The role of a sports agent has dramatically changed in the last ten years, due to the high demand of top tier athletes and a willingness to pay for such.  Contract negotiations used to be a simplistic process, which outlined general terms of a contract and provided a yearly salary wage.  In the past, athletes would hire an agent to represent them and to handle business related material, in order to divide the business aspect from the athlete’s role as a teammate. These days they’re one in the same.  Due to the birth of social media and consistent growth in popularity, professional sports were revolutionized as were the athletes and agents who represent them.  Let’s move forward to the present.

With the amount of scrutiny athletes are under professional representation is mandatory.  The job of an agent requires a tremendous amount of dedication in providing clients with numerous resources, all of which are aimed at establishing a profitable and successful career.  Endorsement deals, speech training, charity events, public appearances, performance training, etc.  You get the point.

Imagine a college athlete who is deemed the hottest prospect in the nation. Everything that athlete says or does will affect their stock at the professional level. Wait, what does the stock market have to do with professional sports? The two are quite different, yet very similar.  An athlete’s stock is more or less their potential worth to an organization at the professional level.  Athletes who possess abilities that have greater demand typically present a higher level of stock, which in turn provides the athlete with a larger salary. It’s the agents job to ensure their client has the highest level of stock, by preparing an athlete to meet specific criteria. Ten years ago an athlete met the criteria by winning on the field.  Today, the criteria is much more complex and demands that athletes act as role models on and off the field.  Sounds simple, right? Wrong.

Journalists are paid to ask questions that put athletes in vulnerable positions and depending on how an athlete responds can seriously affect their public image.  How the public perceives you is all that matters and in order to ensure athletes are prepared for difficult questions, they must receive training that offers a specific strategy to giving a politically correct response. Sports agents are responsible for the reputation of their client and the fact is some athletes have received very little education or come from areas that exposed them to a violent lifestyle at a young age.

Along with his success in the NFL, Chad Ochocinco developed a smart phone application, appeared in a number of TV shows and has multiple endorsement deals. Photo provided by Clay Seal.

Chad Ochocinco is a receiver for the New England Patriots who has taken advantage of the opportunity to brand and market himself.  He didn’t accumulate nearly 4 Million twitter followers by himself, but with the help of his agent Drew Rosenhaus, who has the most clients in the NFL at 170.  Rosenhaus attracts players like Chad Ochocinco through his strategic approach to media relations in professional sports. Rosenhaus is on call 24 hours a day and is accessible to his clients at all times; he has to be.  (Drew Rosenhaus)  Could it be possible that Rosenhaus has had so much success due to his stronghold over mainstream media?  Sure looks like it.  Just as a PR firm is to a major corporation, Drew Rosenhaus and other sports agents are to athletes.  In the words of Rosenhaus: “It’s a kill or be killed business.”

  1. Your posts are spot-on, Joe. Outstanding work!

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