OCTOBER 07, 2010
What to Look For When Choosing a Sports Agent / How to Choose a Sports Agent

I’ve been a sports agent for a long time.  Back in the early 1990’s I cut a deal with the iconic New York City skate shop -  Blades – which was in its infancy, to sponsor a professional inline skating team.   I was on the team, so it was very much a self serving acquisition, but unbeknownst to me at the time, it launched my career in the sports agent world.  Since then I’ve represented many athletes, and cut countless sponsorship and endorsement deals, mostly specializing in Olympic sports but along the way there aren’t too many sports that I haven’t touched in some way.  During this time I’ve had hundreds of conversations (literally) with athletes ranging from top NFL quarterbacks to lawn mower racing and beach tennis  players (yes, I’m serious) about becoming their sports agent.  From those conversations, here are a handful of things to think about when choosing a sports agent.

1. Sports Contract Agent or Sports Marketing Agent?

A sports contract agent is going to cut your deal to play in the NFL, NBA, NHL etc. so they need to have a deep knowledge of/experience with the game.  A sports marketing agent is going to create sponsorships and endorsement deals.  Which are you looking for? 

Many contract agents also claim to be marketing agents but my experience is that not many are good at both.  Really this is a logical, dollars/cents issue.  A contract agent will make a percentage of a pro player contract deal.  These are typically lucrative deals, so the agent is making a percentage of that, which translates to a nice junk of change.   That agent might then, and often does, want to do the players shoe deal, which is typically a players biggest endorsement contract/sponsorship.  The dollar amount for a shoe deal is usually much less than the player contract, but, while never actually easy, this is the low-hanging-fruit of sponsorship deals to be had.  With the player contract and shoe deal in place, after that the subsequent endorsements deals get harder to find and are most often for less money.  For the contract agent, the more logical place to put his/her time and effort is into finding the next star player to represent so as to cut that player’s contract deal.   The bottom line is that they make more money doing player deals than they do chasing sponsorship deals. 

The sports marketing agent’s expertise is specifically in creating sponsorship and endorsement deals.  These sponsorships will be either endemic (specifically related to the athlete’s particular sport) or non-endemic (endorsements with companies whose products/services have nothing to do with the sport).  I believe this latter category is the true muster of a sports marketing agent as quite frankly, these deals are harder to get.  I’ll talk more about endemic vs. non-endemic in a future post.   For now, understanding what different types of agents do is a starting point and because of these differences it’s not at all uncommon for athletes to have a contract agent and a marketing agent.  Know what you’re looking for.

 NEXT ENTRY: Endemic vs. Non-endemic deals (not yet posted)

About Chicago Sports & Entertainment Partners - www.ChicagoSEP.com  
Chicago Sports & Entertainment Partners (CSEP) is a full service sports marketing, management and consulting agency. We are a team of senior level sports marketing executives with over sixty years of combined experience in corporate brand strategies & activation, media/public relations & corporate social responsibility and athlete representation & management. We utilize this experience, and our strategic business relationships, to provide our clients unparalleled depth of service across a broad spectrum of the sports marketing industry. Our role is to assist our clients in fully leveraging their sports marketing dollars and to deliver to them tangible, measurable results targeted to achieving specifically defined corporate business objectives.

Patrick Quinn


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