What does a Sports Agent do?

D. Jeffress

A sports agent is a professional businessperson who helps athletes manage their careers. He or she may work with a single sports player or provide services to several clients at a time. Agents handle accounting and legal duties, negotiate contracts, and provide advice about signing deals. They also market their clients to potential sponsors to increase player awareness and profits. Many are self-employed, though some work for consulting and management firms that cater to athletes in specific sports leagues.

A sport's agent might deal with several athletes at one time or handle only one player exclusively.
A sport's agent might deal with several athletes at one time or handle only one player exclusively.

Professional and amateur athletes are often faced with difficult career decisions that can be eased by hiring a knowledgeable agent. An agent helps his or her client get the best deals on playing contracts by meeting personally with team owners, managers, and coaches. Important details, such as proposed salary, contract length, benefits, and stipulations are negotiated by the sports agent based on the needs and wants of the client. Many actively seek out more lucrative contract deals for their clients by communicating with other team managers across a league. They market players to scouts and to the public to build hype and improve the chances of securing good deals.

A sports agent solicits player contracts from professional sports teams.
A sports agent solicits player contracts from professional sports teams.

These agents also set up endorsement deals with sponsors. Many shoe, clothing, and product manufacturers sign contracts with athletes to increase sales of their goods. When a company shows interest in sponsoring an athlete, the sports agent can help decide on the terms. First, he or she makes sure the client likes the product and is willing to advertise it. Then, he or she can work with product manufacturers to try to get the athlete the most compensation.

A significant part of this job involves managing finances. The agent keeps careful records of a client's playing wages, sponsorship benefits, and expenses. He or she might fill out tax forms, set up insurance plans, provide legal counsel, and give advice about making smart investments. Many travel with their athletes to away games and accompany them to social events.

Most professionals enter the field with bachelor's degrees or higher in business administration, marketing, or public relations. Expert knowledge of the business side of sports is important, and many professionals are former players themselves. Most prospective agents begin their careers with consulting firms or amateur sports organizations to start building up a small client base. Networking and successful self-promotion are essential to move forward in a sports agent career.

A sports agent must be an excellent negotiator.
A sports agent must be an excellent negotiator.

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Discussion Comments


@colts92 - Sports agents have to pass a specific certification for each different major sports league before they can represent a player in that league. For instant, if an agent who works with the NFL wants to represent a basketball player, he would have to become certified in the NBA as well. So while I'm sure there are some who represent a variety of athletes, most major-league sports agents specialize in just one type of player.


That's really interesting to read. You always hear about sports agents on television, but rarely many details about what they actually do. Do most agents specialize in one league, like the NFL, or represent players from a wide range of sports?

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