Sports agents are a vital part of the professional lives of athletes. They are the mouth of the athletes and are involved in almost all the major decisions that these athletes need to make. These decisions may be included in; contract renegotiations, seeking to solve problems amicably between their clients and the associated teams. In the sports industry, agents have become increasingly important and continue playing critical roles in this sector. There are three aspects of bargaining in which these agents are involved. They include; bargaining which in this case, the agent seeks to get higher economic gain for the player’s services. The second one, the agents, and the client’s employer come up with possible ways to solve certain issues amicably. The other is a scenario where the agent plays a part in ensuring that the bargaining environment is conducive for both parties.
As alluded to by Evans (2008), agents are increasingly becoming important cogs in the lives of various athletes and professionals in sports. Therefore, Evans (2008) defines an agent as an individual who is involved in contract issues, public image and consultations, and more often than not shall be involved in getting endorsements for their clients which are equally sources of additional income to their clients. However, it is easily noticeable that this definition with all the aspects addressed does not reflect the input agents have over the personal lives of their clients. It is very much common that these athletes also get the input of their agents in getting help in their personal businesses. For these agents, a positive addition would be and has always been being an effective negotiator. Most of the agents in the sports industry have taken law courses, and with this, they can easily bypass barriers that are usually available in the determination of contracts.
Ethical training is a critical component of an agent’s time in law school. They get training in a way that a normal attorney is not able to get and that is the advantage they have in the sports industry. Therefore, this article seeks to bring out the importance of agents and the invaluable output they give to their clients in ensuring that their performance is platinum.
Agent Performance in the Sports Industry
It is prudent that an athlete first treats the agent as a very qualified professional who has knowledge spread among a number of issues that concern these athletes. These athletes should first acknowledge the professional performance of their agents before they can go for the financial packages. This is because, in the long run, this becomes an increasingly important factor even in the negotiation higher financial packages. The athletes should realize that their agents are trained professionals who through their expertise want the best possible contracts for their clients. This could be counteracted by the idea that since an attorney agent is bound by a strict code of ethics and would be heavily susceptible to lawful punishment if they went to the contrary.
It is prudent that the athletes choose agents that are widely educated and who work collaboratively with other agents to ensure that these players get the best possible. These agents have increasingly developed the pressure brought about by the fact that the career life of professional athletes is very short. Therefore, in such a scenario the agent is mandated to produce the best possible packages overtime for their clients to guarantee their financial security. This puts the agents in a fine line between playing hard-nosed and trying to get the possible packages for their clients. There are certain clauses and approaches that ensure that the players still get additional benefits for their hard work without having to exert any financial pressures. An example can be the ‘Final Offer Arbitration’ where the agents negotiate for the clients to get interest based benefits such as single occupancy rooms on team trips, chartered plane travel and other services based on the player’s hard work and commitment to reaching the objectives of the team.
The Renegotiation Process
Initially, athletes usually negotiated their own contracts and therefore most at times, were unable to get the best possible deals. Agents came into the picture, and it was almost like a wave, as most sports athletes acknowledged the need of these skilled professionals. Agents are very much an important part of sportsmanship. An example can be taken in the line of American Football Player in the 1950s that entered into a contract with a team, the Los Angeles Rams. He had three standard contracts with them, but sometimes after a team came in, Houston Oilers and sought the services of the player. Billy Cannon decided to terminate the contract with the Rams and returned their money. The Rams decided to file an injunction to stop the player from playing for a rival team, but it was dismissed in a court of law. The court determined that there was no legally binding agreement between Billy Cannon and the Rams and therefore he was free in that regard. It was determined that athletes needed the help of agents to enter into these negotiations.
As it is, however, agents are a crucial part of the professional athletes’ lives and cannot be ignored by the employer teams that their clients work for. The best possible approach by these teams would be to ensure that they develop a collaborative culture and create a stringent code of ethics that these agents should not breach or go against. Most of the times, a player’s performance has a huge influence on the renegotiation processes. This becomes the basis of the setting up of a new contract. It is usually relatively easier for the agents to negotiate for better contracts for their players if they are performing unbelievably well for their teams rather than the contrary.
For instance, if a player has been performing well for the team in which he had a binding contract for four years. The agent has no obligation other than to bargain for better financial and contractual obligations for the player. They resolve any available ambiguities, and if the player had been performing at that level for three years into the contract, he might be rewarded with a higher financial package and the contract period extended by another four years.
Athletes should acknowledge the fact that their agents have to represent them and their interests in the best possible way to be able to ensure comfort and financial security. The athletes should make sure that they get professional agents who are loyal and can genuinely assist them through and after their relatively short professional lives.
Evans, S. B. (2010). Sports Agents: Ethical Representatives or Overly Aggressive Adversaries?. Villanova Sports & Entertainment Law Journal, 17, 93.
Silva, P., Travassos, B., Vilar, L., Aguiar, P., Davids, K., Araújo, D., & Garganta, J. (2014). Numerical relations and skill level constrain co-adaptive behaviors of agents in sports teams. PloS one, 9(9), e107112.