Mis-Information is Worse Than No-Information

Having grown up in the game of football and professional sports, I have learned a thing or two as to how the sports business operates. I recently came across an article written by Darren Heitner entitled, 8 Ways Agents Should Research Athletes Before They Sign Them. While the premise of the article gives credence that there should be a process, it fails to truly educate the reader how the agent business works; in my opinion leaving the reader no more informed after reading the article.

I am hesitant to create a link back to the article, because I do not want to point people in a direction of misinformation and lack of researched analysis. I have given you enough information as the reader, so if you happen to find it through your own research, then “reader beware”. 

There is some common sense to this article that really tells the reader much of nothing (at least when it comes to professional football) and misses the point.

Let’s go through and quickly dissect each “way” and where each falls short.

  1. Scouting services: There are only two qualified scouting services from an NFL standpoint: BLESTO and National Football Scouting. These two services are the best way to know “who, what, and where” most teams will be focusing their attention during the Fall scouting season. The website NFL Draft Scout is nothing more than a nicely compiled website of generic information that anyone could write. It is merely a list of opinions for which no NFL club relies, so why would an agent want to rely on a system that is not used by any NFL member team?

  2. Scouts: Yes. Scouts are the best and only way to know who the real prospects are going to be each year, because scouts talk to other scouts and form make-shift caucuses about who the best players are for the upcoming draft. The article correctly points out that it takes time to build the relationships, and that cannot be rushed or manipulated. Having spoken to over 90% of the active sports agents in the business, there are many different tactics agents will use to build a relationship in hopes of gathering information from scouts. Sometimes the tactics work, but most times they do not.

  3. Facebook: This is a new concept to information gathering that has had mixed reviews. When connecting with a person on Facebook, that person has to accept the Friend Request before allowed into that person’s network. Using social media sources such as Facebook and Twitter can give a false reading of a person’s true character. I am sure many of you who read this blog post, have written something on your Facebook page with a tone that was not reflected via the words on the computer screen. I would not take this as an effective way to assess the character of a person. What measure of character does it really give?

  4. In-person meeting: This is very effective, but there is a problem with calling and meeting players during the football season. Oh yeah, it is a violation of the National Football League Players Association (NFLPA) rules and may be a violation of Uniform Athlete Agents Act (UAAA). Sports agents and their “runners” must be careful to abide by state and federal regulations which if violated could cost a player his eligibility. However, these rules regulations are flat-out disregarded and manipulated every year.

  5. Use your current clients: Sports agents can use their current clients in recruiting efforts; this may help, but personalities may be too different and the relations can be strained from the beginning and is a lot of wasted time by everyone if there is chemistry amongst the client and the agent. This causes the agent to lose many of his current clients due to bad “word-of-mouth” gossip and communication.

  6. Use other guys you are recruiting: PLAYERS TALK TO OTHER PLAYERS! This too can backfire if an agent says one thing to one player, but gives a different set of information to another. It is not because the sports agent is intentionally telling lies, but can sometimes be as miniscule as one player is completely different than any other. Most young players and their families do not know who the business side of the game operates and often live on what they see on television, which is often scripted with a “twist” of reality.

  7. Talk to the player’s coach: Most coaches do not like sports agents talking to their players, so they are reluctant to give any pertinent information to a sports agent who is probing for background information on a draft-eligible player. This information is often given to scouts, but rarely to a sports agent.

  8. Use intuition: This may be the best bit of advice anyone could use. The art of scouting it just that; an art. It falls somewhere between the study of rocket science and the luck of a dice roll. There is no exact science to scouting players and the best thing an sports agent can do is find a system he feels comfortable with and make it work for him, because there is no school or class that will teach anyone how to effectively scout players.

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