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What does a Sports Agent do?

Sports is a complicated business, and many athletes rely on a short career span for a lifetime of earnings. Agents specialize in finding and marketing athletes and negotiating employment and endorsement contracts on their behalf. In addition, agents may offer financial guidance.

The sports agent's job description includes:
  • Handling communications with team owners, managers and coaches
  • Negotiating contracts for both athletic employment and product endorsement
  • Marketing the athlete for product endorsement and public appearance opportunities
  • Advising clients in public relations matters
  • Managing an athlete's finances, in some cases, providing tax services, investment advice, etc.
In order to serve the athlete's interests, a sports agent needs to understand the professional sports industry and current trends. In addition, the sports agent should have a thorough foundation in business management, financial management and risk analysis and most important, contract law.

Training to become a sports agent

Sports agents generally develop the broad skill set for the job in college. A bachelor's degree in business or sports management is the first step to a career as a sports agent. Top agents may continue on to a master's degree in sports agent or management, which offers advanced coursework and project research opportunities. The North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) maintains a list of universities offering sports management degree programs.

Sports agent or management degree programs include courses in business, finance, public relations and media, as well as sports-specific electives such as:
  • Sports law
  • Risk management
  • Sports media and technology
  • Athletic contract negotiation
  • Sports marketing
  • Federal sports regulations
  • Sport budget and finance
In addition, sports agent or management degree programs may incorporate a professional internship. Many sports agents continue on to a professional law degree, focusing on contract and negotiating fundamentals.

Sports agent careers

Sports agents may work as part of a sports agency or as an independent agent. As a recent graduate, you can break into the business by joining a large agency and working as a scout or recruiter while you learn the ropes. Once you have developed the expertise and industry contacts, you can establish your own agency.

Since sports agents are generally paid on commission, salaries vary widely. A sports agent generally receives a commission between four and 10 percent of the athlete's team contract and 10 to 20 percent of an endorsement contract. Though these commissions are subject to negotiation between player and agent, some spectator sports set limits on agent terms. The NFL limits agents to three percent of the athletic contract and the NBA sets a four percent limit.

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