How to Become a Sports Agent

In an era when salaries and endorsements for

professional athletes have skyrocketed, agents

are becoming essential players in a multibillion-dollar

industry.

Being a sports agent can mean working with

famous clients and getting front-row access

to some of the biggest sporting events.

But it isn’t all perks and glamour.

In this video we want to explore what sports

agents actually do, what skills and education

are needed for the job and what you can earn

in that career.

Sports agents are legal representatives for

professional athletes and coaches.

They handle the business deals for their clients,

negotiate contracts and help manage their

money.

In some large sports agencies, such as IMG

or Octagon, agents deal with all aspects of

their clients’ finances, from investment to

filing taxes.

In addition to finding income sources, agents

often also handle public relations matters.

For example responding to press inquiries

and arranging interviews and media appearances.

But the job goes beyond advising on legal

and financial questions.

Often agents organize the whole life of their

athletes.

Whether finding a rare pair of sneakers or

booking the next summer holidays, agents are

the first go-to person for their clients.

Football star Mario Balotelli once even called

his agent Mino Raiola to say his house was

on fire.

Raiola advised him to try and call the fire

brigade instead (humorvoll).

Being a sports agent is essentially an on-call

job that requires you to sacrifice personal

time, travel extensively and fill whatever

role is missing from an athlete’s life.

But besides flexible working hours, what are

the skills you need to bring to the job?

If you want to work in sports, you need to

understand it.

It’s not enough to read the sports section

in the newspaper.

A key part of the job is attending events

to find talent that you can work with, represent

and take to the next level.

Therefore, a connection to the sports world

is vital to becoming an agent.

Many agents were actually once professional

athletes themselves.

Their athletic background earns them credibility

and makes it is easy to bond with other athletes.

You have to make that connection and be able

to see the situation from the inside.

Otherwise, who is going to trust you to represent

them?

But it is not a requirement to be a former

professional athlete to become an agent, as

long as you understand the sport you are working

in.

More important are excellent networking and

relationship management skills.

In many cases, sports agents do a lot of traveling

to meet club managers, league representatives

and potential clients.

You may even want to link up with members

of the press who write for leading sports

publications.

A broad network is vital to provide the best

services to an athlete and can be a real competitive

advantage.

Having a great network with strong relationships

also sets the stage for successful negotiations.

Salaries kept growing in recent years.

But earnings still vary a lot between athletes.

That’s why being a skilled negotiator is a

crucial asset of professional agents.

The skillset of an agent relies a lot on experience,

but some of it can also be learned at school.

The profession has never had the best reputation.

In the eyes of club officials, some agents

are seen as a bothersome and costly add-on

they have to deal with whenever they want

to sign a player.

However, also the agents have evolved their

skills to bring added value to the table.

Besides the sports background, some legal

or financial expertise is needed to cut it

in this field.

The world of professional sports has become

very sophisticated.

The contracts are complex and the amount of

money you’re dealing with can be astronomical.

Since there’s such a need for legal and financial

experts, many of today’s agents are lawyers

who have a solid grounding in business and

finance.

A growing number of agents also have educational

backgrounds in general business or sports

management.

In recent years many Universities launched

programs to prepare students for the sports

industry.

It is now possible to study sports marketing,

sports law, sports business and more.

While these offers provide a narrow specialization,

it is also possible to study law or business

and specify on sports after school.

A sports degree is definitely not required

to be successful in the industry.

What is required for some agent jobs is a

license.

This varies from sport to sport.

But usually, the national association of the

respective sport is giving out permits to

be an official athlete representative.

But before getting a license, it is worth

knowing what you can earn as an agent.

Sports agents usually are paid on commission.

So it’s in their interest to get their clients

the most money they can.

They generally receive between 4 and 10% of

the athlete’s playing contract, and 10 to

20% of the athlete’s endorsement contract.

Although these figures vary.

NFL agents, for instance, are not permitted

to receive more than 3% of their clients’

playing contracts.

Earnings range widely, depending on how many

clients an agent has and how much those clients

are earning.

On average, a sports agent usually makes $40,000

to $100,000 a year.

But extremely successful agents can actually

become millionaires.

The highest-paid sports agent of 2019 was

Jonathan Barnett.

Having negotiated more than one billion dollars

in active contracts and transfer fees, his

maximum possible commissions exceeded 128

million $.

The career of an athlete, and therefore also

the earnings, can be a rollercoaster ride.

Unknown one day and on top of the world the

next.

But a professional agent can be a factor of

stability and the key driver for a successful

career.

Many of the world’s most famous athletes probably

wouldn’t be where they are today without the

guidance of their agents.