Sports Agents

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People have been entertained by sport since before the gladiators in the Roman Coliseum. In the 20th century, the publics' passion for sport consumes more and more of their free time. As sports figures became internationally recognized, athletes began to realize their need for professional representation. Thus, sports agents were born. The field of sports agents has grown since then into an enormous field. Agents now deal with every aspect of an athlete's life. Agents can be considered professional mangers who find the best place for their client's talent. Sports Agents have not been around for a long time. "Until the 1970's, very few players had agents because teams would not deal with agents (Masteralexis, 244)." Many times players found that having an agent was a disadvantage to them. For example, "In 1964 Jim Ringo brought his financial advisor (agent) to help negotiate a contract with Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers. Lombardi excused himself for a minute, when he returned he told the agent that he was negotiating with the wrong team (Masteralexis, 244)." Agents had been around since prior to the 70's, but were few and far between. C. C. "cash $ carry" Pyle is though to be the first Sports Agent. The first account of negotiations came when Pyle "Negotiated a deal with the Chicago Bears for Red Grange to earn $3,000 per game and $300,000 in endorsement and movie rights (Masteralexis, 244)." A few years later Babe Ruth allegedly consulted sports cartoonist Christy Walsh to serve as his financial consultant through the depression. These early accounts are the beginning of the Sports Agent. It took years for the agent to develop however.

Since the 1970's the Sports Agency business has sky rocketed. There are five main factors that account for this. The reserve system is the first factor that lead to the growth of the Sports Agent. The reserve system was a restrictive system that limited the free, or open market. This enabled owners to retain rights to players and depress their salaries. Major League Baseball had the first system, which consisted of two parts, the reserve clause and the reserve list. The reserve clause stated that each player's contract could be renewed by the team season after season, for as long as the club wished. The reserve list was sent to each team by the league. Teams had to place the names of reserved players on the list, and other teams were not allowed to offer contracts to players that were on the list. This system bound players to teams and allowed owners to depress salaries of players.

The second factor was the development of competing leagues. "Competing leagues such as the American Football League, the American Baseball Association, the World Hockey Association, and the United States Football League offered an alternative to athletes (Masteralexis, 246)." These leagues offered higher salaries to induce players to move from their original teams. When players left a team to for more money, it also increased the salaries of players who stayed on the team. Agents played a crucial role in determining what was best for athletes, and which league they should choose. The third reason for the growth of Sports Agency is the evolution of players associations. "The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) led the move away from informal, powerless associations to true labor organizations that took part in collective bargaining (Masteralexis, 246)." This organized a central association to bargain for players' income, post career income, tax breaks, and others. The union also made it possible for players to fight, or even strike to get what they wanted. One of the largest accomplishments of the MLBPA was establishing free agency. This was able to happen when Major League Baseball and the MLBPA went through negotiations and the MLBPA won the right to labor grievance arbitration. Under this arbitration the MLBPA achieved free agency. The...
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