December always brings such a time of elation mixed with despair in this business where there’s no middle ground. I always get the most interesting texts and emails starting now and running through about Jan. 5-6 (later this year due to the date when the BCS Championship will be played). I thought I’d share a couple today and comment on them.
“Regardless of how this recruiting season turns out, I’m done going after rookies after this year. I’ll stick to veterans who are grown men and smart enough to make their own decisions. Disgusting seeing parents and family pimp out their kids to put themselves in the best situation while swearing they just want what’s best for the kid.”
This one didn’t actually come in this weekend; it was maybe a week or so ago, but it’s very indicative of the feelings of agents come November/December. The author of this Facebook post is a particularly hard-charging, passionate second-year agent. He never backs down from a challenge and recruits players based on the ones he thinks he could do the best job for, refusing to settle for iffy players just to sign someone. That’s what makes it so hard when a parent who’s a little too drunk on the recruiting process, the wooing and such, gets involved and steers the kid in another direction.
“I feel so betrayed by (highly regarded draft-eligible player). I should know better. . . I’m too trusting in this business.”
This text came in today from an agent that I think will be one of the biggest names in the agent business within 3-5 years. He’s incredibly genuine and instantly clicks with young athletes. Unfortunately, his strength is his weakness; he expects the same from his potential clients. I’m fighting the urge to just accept that young men under these pressures can’t muster any sense of loyalty or respect. In many cases, these agents have been building a relationship with a young man for a year or more. When the player signs elsewhere, often it all ends with the abruptness of a head-on collision.
“Lots of money flowing out there.”
I know, I know — in a business perceived to be as crooked as sports representation, this is to be expected. Actually, there’s more to this statement than meets the eye (in fact, I could do a full blog post on this issue alone). In this business, money is oxygen, it’s energy, it’s what keeps the wheels turning. It gives you way more chances to succeed, but also doesn’t guarantee anything.
Most people would take the above statement to mean that players are being paid under the table, and sometimes that’s true. However, it could also mean there’s money going out on the other side of their last game — in the forms of stipends, marketing guarantees, signing bonuses, expensive training and other expenses that are non-reimbursable. To some degree, you can draw a line between the major agencies that regularly represent top players and the ones that don’t by how much ‘ammo’ they have to provide to athletes in the run-up to the draft.