For my final post, I want to discuss the hottest topic currently in sports, the NBA lockout. The league has officially been in a lockout since July 1st, due to the owners and players not being able to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA). What this is, is basically how the various forms of revenue the league accrues is divided between the players and the owners. What this means is that there are 3 sides that one can assign blame to; the players, the owners, or the commissioner. The main argument that people bring up with the players is that they are being greedy. The minimum salary for an NBA player is almost $500,o00 and only increases with the more years you have been in the NBA. On average, players are getting over $5 million annually. Is a few dollars out of their pockets really going to hurt them? Some players are making more in a year than most people do in a lifetime. The same can be said when making arguments about the owners. If you think the players are rich, wait until you see the bank account of one of the 30 owners. They aren’t as inclined to get the season going though. The NBA market hasn’t been doing too well in recent seasons, meaning some of the owners have actually been losing money. They could actually lose less money if there was no season. Finally comes the commissioner, David Stern. He is widely viewed as an enemy, due to his arrogance, and the overall bullying of the players he does. Some even go as far to say that both sides are being greedier in spite of Stern. Stern is supposed to be in the middle of bringing both sides together, but just seems to tear them apart. As the lockout continues, we will be able to see who is truly at fault for the lack of success in the negotiations.
I thought it would be interesting to talk about how sports marketing has changed over the years. Sports marketing goes hand and hand with sports agents because it is essentially what they do, they market their players. The article I found dated the start of sports marketing as early as the 1800’s. They stated that the tobacco companies were the start of it, because they would insert baseball cards into their cigarette packs, with the hope of not only gaining more recognition for the player but to boost their own sales as well. It quickly became a growing trend. Most notably, they would start putting cards into packs of gum, and then even ended up developing “big-league chew”. “Big-league chew” was gum that was made to resemble chewing tobacco, which was made so famous by baseball players. This way, kids could mimic their favorite athletes without having to actually use to tobacco. It was then during the 1936 Olympics when marketing was taken to a new level. American athlete Jesse Owens started receiving products based purely on means of advertisement. As the years progressed, athletes started to become incorporated in advertisements that had nothing to do with their sport. They would use them with the sole purpose of recognition and hope that would bring their company more business. These different techniques they used in the past paved the way for marketing in the present. You can’t go to any sporting event now a days without having advertisements thrown in your face. From the uniforms athletes wear to the actual fields themselves, there is nothing but advertisement. While sports marketing is more associated with advertising companies, the techniques employed by sports agents model this but focusing more on individuals.
With the popularity of video games rapidly growing across the USA, there is soon to be a new category of people that will need agents. Video game tournaments are starting to have very high stakes, with purses exceeding $100,000. 60 minutes ran a story on Johnathon Wendel, who they claim is the best video gamer in the world. He already has a marketing agent. Through his various endorsements and numerous products, his agent claims that he will make “millions of dollars”. That is a ton of money for something that most people just view as a hobby. They even mention a 7 year old boy who is being “scouted” after winning a tournament against many adults. While one may view this as a weird hobby to need an agent, if the market for video games keep progressing, agents can yield a high return on there “investments”.
I was recently reading another blog and came across a very interesting article they wrote. They were talking about how not only is media rapidly changing but the effect it is having on sports fans. They provided many interesting examples that compelled me to write about it, because I agree with them 100%. The first example they used involved the NBA playoffs from last year. TNT changed the way that basketball fans could watch the game. They allowed fans to watch the games online from different camera angles. People could choose if they wanted to follow one player, or if they wanted to watch the game from a baseline camera, giving them the feel that they were actually in the stadium. To me, this is revolutionary. I have never seen such a real-life experience, that you could experience from your couch. They then go on to talk about fantasy sports. I am a huge fan of fantasy football, so I could relate to this very much. They explain how it allows fans to connect more with individual athletes, as opposed to teams. People feel like they are more associated with the athlete because he is the star on their fantasy team. I admit that sometimes I am actually guilty of this, but I feel like fantasy football has taken a lot away from the game. I like how times used to be, when people would have their favorite team to follow. This is still the case for the true fans, but there are many people who don’t even care how the Washington Redskins because they were just happy that Tony Romo gave them 30 fantasy points, even though he is on the rivaling team. While the technology provides more entertainment for the fans and allows them to feel closer to individual athletes, it takes away from the true passion of the game that fans use to experience.
I recently stumbled across an article on Sports Illustrated’s website that was very informative about the life on a sports agent. Josh Luchs first arrived on the scene when he was 20 years old. He was a ball boy for the Oakland Raiders. This allowed him to get very close to his players, and ultimately sign Greg Townsend, their star defensive end. Like Rosenhaus, Luchs went to a school that had a high volume of football talent, UCLA. He used this to his advantage when first starting out. He hung out around the football players, which allowed them to feel more comfortable when signing him as an agent. He then goes on to talk about how he cheated the system. There have been many scandals recently surfacing in college about agents and other people paying student athletes. This seemed to be the norm back in the day. He explained how the basis of recruiting for a lot of the athletes was how much you would pay them. He still had to get close to his clients, but money was a huge factor. This was an NFLPA (NFL Players Association) violation, but rarely was anyone getting caught. He eventually moved on to working with an agent who played by the rules. This lasted for a few successful years, until Gary Wichard started limiting the number of clients he would allow Luchs to recruit. He was scared that Luchs would leave him and steal all his clients. So eventually Luchs leaves, and takes Wichard to court because he was withholding some of the commision that Luch was old. They found that one of the players sent a check to Luchs, which turned around and got him in trouble. He was eventually suspended a year by the NFLPA, fined $25,000, and his career as a sports agent was basically over. I found this extremely interesting because it showed how fast a person’s career can turn around. It also gave me an inside view of the profession, and showed me that everything doesn’t go by the books. There are many in’s and out’s to the business, that make agents bend the rules a little bit. It is how you proceed with this obstacles that will make or break your career.
You can’t ever talk about sports agents without mentioning the most famous of them all. Drew Rosenhaus is the largest sports agent in the NFL, representing approximately 170 players. Rosenhaus was born and raised in Miami, which led to him later attending the University of Miami. This proved to be a very smart choice for him. Not only is the University of Miami a very prestigous school, but it is also loaded with football talent, which Rosenhaus obviously used to his advantage. After getting his bachelor’s degree, he made his way to Duke University, where he ended up getting a degree in law. His success stems mostly from his aggressive nature. He does whatever it takes to obtain new clients, and to keep his current clients happy at all times. One of the main examples of his dedication come from his work with Willis McGahee. McGahee, a stand out running back from the University of Miami, had a knee injury on his last college game that could have potentially ended his career. Rosenhaus made a guarantee to him that not only would he be drafted, but it would be in the first round. If this didn’t happen, Rosenhaus would waive his commission and work for McGahee for free. Even though he could barely walk at the time of the draft, McGahee ended up being drafted towards the end of the first round and received a lucrative contract. This is just one of many cases that shows what type of agent Drew Rosenhaus is. The $65 million net worth speaks for itself. Drew Rosenhaus is a man among boys when it comes to NFL sports agents. He models what it takes to be successful in a difficult field.
Like I previously stated, the movie “Jerry Maguire” was one of my main influences on wanting to become a Sports Agent. I have always been a big football fan and I was also a fan of Tom Cruise. I decided to watch this movie at a pretty young age, when I did not even understand half of the things that were going on. The way Jerry Maguire conducts himself in this movie was very amusing for me though. While he doesn’t illustrate everything into being a Sports Agent, I think what he did best was showing the lifestyle and characteristics of a typical person in this field. He also reveals the negativity that can sometimes be associated with Sports Agents as well. At the beginning of the movie, Jerry is on top of the world. He has the best clients and is making ridiculous amounts of money. He ends up getting fired from his firm and has all his clients taken from him. Jerry then is stuck with one client, but manages to build his way back up to the top. It also shows the difference in working for a firm as opposed to working independently. Jerry was at his highest point when he worked for his firm, but it pretty much crumbled overnight. When he was forced to be independent, it was a struggle at first, but he still managed to achieve success. While this movie doesn’t nearly show everything that goes into the world of Sports Agents, it has some credible facts that it does a good job of illustrating to the audience.