The transition from amateur athlete to professional athlete is exciting but presents unique challenges both on the playing field and off. Many athletes are unprepared for the business side of their careers, a result of spending a majority of their time focused on improving their athletic performances. The job of a sports agent is to make this transition as easy as possible while allowing their client to perform in their respective sport with a mind clear from outside distractions.
One of the hardest things for any person to do is to say no to a close friend or family member. This is also true for athletes. Athletes, by their nature, are conditioned to be extremely loyal. From a young age, they are drilled on being faithful to their teammates and coaches. However, while loyalty is an incredibly important trait in the world of sports, it is, at times, extremely dangerous in the business world. Many athletes are making a lot of money very quickly, in a short period of time, and at a young age. Thus, they are prime targets for greedy friends, family members, or businessmen. It is extremely difficult for athletes to say no to a family member or close friend who is in need of some financial assistance. Also, they may not be able to tell the difference between a good financial opportunity and a scam. In order to keep their finances in good order and protect themselves from the many dangers of being wealthy and young, many athletes funnel all financial requests through their agent and use the agent as the bad guy when they have to tell somebody ‘no.’ It’s much easier for an athlete to say ‘my sports agent won’t let me give you money’ than ‘I can’t give you money.’
Additionally, athletes turn to sports agents because they know that they have their best interests in mind. A sports agent’s livelihood and financial success relies on their clients’ success. If an athlete is successful in their playing career, stays out of trouble, and is financially successful, it will lead to success for their sports agent. The sports world is a very tight-knit community. A majority of athletes choose their agents based on referrals from teammates or other athletes that they are friendly with. If a sports agent’s clients are all successful and happy with the agent’s services, they will be sure to encourage other athletes to join the same agent “family.” This is why you’ll likely see a lot of similarities between the athletes on an agent’s client list. It could be the same college or hometown, but referrals are key to an agent’s recruitment. The knowledge that a sports agent has such a large amount invested in an athlete’s career as the athlete does instigates a feeling of trust between the agent and the client.
Trust is ultimately the most important aspect of a relationship between an athlete and sports agent. When an agent earns an athlete’s trust, they will be much more likely to turn to the agent for guidance. Agents and their clients both need each other. Obviously, without clients, sports agents wouldn’t exist. However, without sports agents, athletes would be lacking a true business partner, confidant and career advisor.