When friends, family, and the like ask me what I want to do after law school (besides, you know, get a paying job), I answer that I, of course, want to get into sports in some capacity, whether that be at the collegiate or professional level. But, I continue to hear how difficult it is to break into the sports industry, no matter the sector. Notwithstanding this hurdle, I cannot say enough how much of an eye-opening experience the Sports Agent School conference (presented by TPG Sports Group) was, which was held in Chicago, Illinois, on November 6 and 7.
As the title suggests, the Sports Agent School brought together the best minds in the sports agent business, specifically as it pertains to the NBA, for a behind-the-scenes look at what the business is all about. Yet, one of the reasons why this experience was so beneficial is because the conference sported more than NBA-certified agents in an effort to cover all angles, opinions, and insights. For example, former Chicago Bulls assistant general manager and Minnesota T-Wolves general manager Jim Stack attended as a panelist, who was around during Chicago’s glory days with Michael Jordan. Ultimately, the conference fueled me to look at the sports agent industry, as a whole, to a greater extent and on a different level than personally viewed before.
Whether one wants to get a job in law, banking, sports, or engineering, all of these industries share two characteristics: networking and building relationships, which became glowingly apparent at the conference. And while networking may be more important in terms of an individual’s career success, building relationships particularly stood out to me as it related to interactions with your client(s), a la professional [insert sport] player. To a varying degree, depending on the particular client, an agent may have wear multiple “hats” when representing a client.
Of course, on one hand, the obvious “hat” is dealing directly with the client’s job — staying in touch with the player and his head coach, assistant coaches, assistant general manager, and general manager about a variety of things. On the other hand, an agent may need to act as life coach of sorts for the player, a person that the player that turn to for advice, wisdom, strength, and so much more. Still, in order for this relationship to work effectively, open and honest lines of communication need to exist, which was reiterated countless times by the panelists. Moreover, the agent also needs to play the role of educator, for instance, when it comes to picking a destination, either domestically or internationally, and the pros and cons that align with that decision. In fact, one of the panelists was asked the qualifications needed for a sports agent, and, in addition to the ones previously outlined, he rattled off several:
- Not afraid to fail
- Not afraid to ask questions
- Crisis management
Panel after panel, interaction after interaction, inner thought after inner thought, my motivation gradually increased at the Sports Agent School conference, which I hope to build upon as I pursue a career in sports.