Thursday, December 28, 2006

Education or experience

I don't think its any secret the sports agent world is dog eat dog. With the number of agents growing every day the question remains; Is it better to spend an extra 3 years in school, or spend that time learning the ropes and getting your foot in the door with just a 4 year degree?

An argument can be made for either side. Most agents who are in the business are not super successful. Some take a shot because they are former athletes, some have all the credentials to be a successful agent but no personality, and others have all the personality but no education to back it. Now days It seems that athletes are looking for more one stop shops. They like the ability the bigger firms have to handle all the sections of their life and career. They would rather not be bothered with life's menial nuances. This mentality tends to favor the individuals who have more scholastic experience. One of the biggest draw backs to completing ones education before becoming a sports agent is the education loans that follow.

Most successful agents won't make meaningful money for the first few years. It takes time to build a reputation and network. With the added cost of law/business schools this makes the first few years even tougher on the newbie agent. This is where someone with just a 4 year degree has an advantage. Their loans are not as steep, their earning potential in corporate America is not as high, so the income they might be sacrificing by becoming an agent may be pennies compared to the fancy law/MBA grad.

Most of the problems the extremely educated agents have is they lose their passion for the job while finishing the education. They see the disparaging compensation difference between what is guaranteed earnings in corporate America to what they could potentially earn as a sports agent.
According to Business Week's guide to the best business schools the median total pay package for an MBA graduate from one of the top 15 business schools ranges from 135-165k a year. That type of money is tough to turn down your first year out of business school to take a chance in a dog eat dog industry. A lot of peoples priorities change while in school and they don't graduate with the same reckless mentality they had going in. They are ready to settle down, ready for security. That security is not provided in the sports agent business.

The upside for the educated charismatic individuals who stick to the game plan is they have a huge advantage over other prospective agents. Would you rather have your contract in the hands of someone who is an extremely smooth talker, or someone who is an extremely smooth talker and has an MBA/law degree?

Do you have what it takes to become an agent?


Darren said...

Screw security.

Glad to see you started this blog. It's time for another source of Sports Agent news/commentary.

Good luck!


Lachlan said...

The education is vital if you want to rise to the cream of the crop.

Taking basketball agents for example, the more successful ones:

With a law degree: Leon Rose, Lon Babby, David Falk, Arn Tellem, Dan Fegan, and many more.

With a MBA: Mark Bartelstein.

With a undergrad degree only: Bill Duffy, the Goodwin brothers.

There are more top agents, but this gives you the jist.

Kenneth Shropshire's book (as well as a few others) give great examples of why the law degree is important.

The only limitation would be the ethical and moral standards you have to work by once you have passed the bar. The debt you owe due to obtaining a law degree won't come into huge effect if you don't succeed as an Agent. The average person with a law degree will earn more than the average person with only an undergrad degree over their respective lifetimes.