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I'm No Longer a Sports Agent – Now An 'Athlete Advocate'

By Darren Heitner

Yesterday something clicked and made me renounce my title as sports agent.  Since starting in this business, I was never too fond of the phrase.What exactly is a ’sports agent’ anyway? After taking Business Organizations Law as a 2L in law school, I could give you a 5 page definition of ‘agent’. Instead, I’ll try to boil it down to 1 sentence: An agent is someone who has a fiduciary duty to be loyal to the person who consents that the agent will act on that person’s behalf and is subject to that person’s control. Adding ’sports’ in front of ‘agent’ merely acts as a limitation on the agent’s scope. I have no qualms with that. The problem is the connotation that the phrase ’sports agent’ has received from the general public, and the shift in definition of the phrase over time. I’m tired of it, and would like to separate myself from it.

I no longer want to be associated with those who offer empty promises to players in order to find their name on an agency contract. I don’t want athletes to think they can use me to pay for their training as if I am some sort of lending institution (how exactly did agents become the people who finance training anyway…where is that in the definition?). And I definitely do not want to be grouped with any ’sports agents’ who will violate the law or act unethically to gain a buck, or 100,000 bucks.

All of these thoughts led me to tweet this:

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The responses were tremendous. The best question was when one person asked if my re-branding would change the name of this blog. Don’t worry, is not getting a new domain name.

I’m a child of this amazing internet age. My company, Dynasty Athlete Representation, has experienced the tremendous growth of the internet and social media since its birth in April 2007.  Thus, I was not all that surprised when my tweet created such an overwhelming response. I was also not surprised that I would end up adopting a title that was introduced by someone who decided to reply. The winner = athlete advocate.

Even advocate has the potential of having a negative connotation. Wikipedia mentions that advocates represent those who lack the knowledge, skill, ability, or standing to speak for themselves. But this is not what I am trying to convey at all. Instead, I want to be someone who will do absolutely anything legal and ethical for my clients, and also empower them with knowledge as I aid them in their future success. I see it as a process that involves my clients as much as possible.

They are not dumb in any sense, but they hire me and Dynasty for a reason – because we can add value that they might not be able to achieve on their own.  It could purely be that they do not have the time to do it in conjunction with excelling on the field or court. It could also be a matter of the connections in the industry that we have built over time.Additionally, our background in law and negotiation is something that many athletes do not have an opportunity to focus on until after their playing days are over. These are the values I want my clients and potential clients to see; not the buying of players by paying training costs or promises that I will turn someone into a first round pick.  I’ll leave that to the ’sports agents’. What I want to provide is what an athlete advocate can do for his clients.

Sports agents will undoubtedly feel uncomfortable after reading this post. I have beat the odds by getting to where I am today, especially since I have been very open from the start and have not allowed myself to get involved in any shady tactics. Nothing will change. In this process, I will attract haters and I will attract imitators, but all I care about is my clients knowing that they will get the best damn advocate they can find.

I am not only re-branding myself. I want to re-brand Dynasty as an entity that you feel excited to be a part of. From the beginning, I have embraced openness about our inner workings and have provided you with information about our clients. Hopefully you have grown to become familiar with our operation.  Dynasty is something that has amazing potential, and I want all of you to be a part of its success. I want it to be the first agency that has its doors wide open and offers everyone interested in the opportunity to be an athlete advocate the chance to add value to the company and its clients.

No matter what the reasoning may be, I know you are smiling.

This piece originally appeared on The Sports Agent Blog.


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