Behind all the glitz and glamour of sports, there is an ugly side that very few people like to discuss. For the MAJOR sports in America, it isn’t as big of an issue as there are unions that protect the athletes, but for the smaller sports, we feel it bad!
The nature of track and field keeps the athletes divided, we train in different places, have different coaches, compete against one another, therefore making it EXTREMELY difficult for us to come together on issues that affect us all.
The issue I’m referring to is that of AGENTS!!!
Why is it that the majority of agents believe once they have met you, they deserve to take a percentage of everything you earn now and in the future? This is usually someone that comes into the picture long after the hard work has been done and only wants to reap the financial benefits. They weren’t there for the five days a week of running, the 1000 abs each day, the Pilates sessions, the long drives to training, the weight room sessions, the counseling after defeat, nothing, yet when the money comes they believe they deserve it all!!!!
Most athletes sign contracts with agents at a young age. There is no protocol in place and the excitement of finally being paid to do what you love to do, clouds your judgment. After seeing the figures and fantasizing about your first car or home, you skip through the 30 pages of legal mumbo jumbo to sign your name.
However when you start working, you quickly realize your needs. You realize you will need more than someone just booking your flights and negotiating your deals, you need someone who can offer his expertise to help you accomplish your goals. Someone who cares enough to come to your workouts, to sacrifice his or her time and energy to see you succeed, not just take a percentage of all your earnings.
The IAAF, which is our governing body, only allows an agent to have a contract with an athlete for one calendar year. Allowing you to evaluate, and make changes if necessary. However, they don’t regulate the contracts they give to us, allowing them to give athletes contracts that indebt us to them for a lifetime.
Yes, most people see our earning potential as extraordinary, but let me quickly give you the breakdown of how much we put out to earn a living. I can’t speak for everyone but here are a few of my expenses.
I pay my track coach and my weight coach. I pay a percentage to my current managers. I have a full time physio that travels to all my meets. I have a Pilates instructor. Above all that, I have a home in Waco, Texas, where I have a whole host of bills I am responsible for. I drive 100miles to Waco each week, so lets not forget my gas! Then of course I must pay taxes and my tithe. Leaving me with a small percentage of what I actually generate.
Now why would someone that got me a deal, that I would have gotten with or without them, believe that they should be paid beyond the time they worked for me?
It blows my mind that these kinds of people exist. People that want to watch you work as hard as you can and then take it away.
Now I am not against having an agent, as I believe that they are absolutely necessary in order for an athlete to be able to focus on what’s most important. However I don’t believe it is moral or legal for someone to give you a contract that allows them to be paid indefinitely whether they work for you or not! It’s actually an absurd idea. I can’t get my contract with Nike, not run for two years, and sue them for my earnings!!! WHAT EARNINGS?!?
I am currently being sued by an agent, someone I once had a great deal of respect for. I speak out not just for myself but for so many athletes, in track and field, that have been in similar situations and for the athletes to come!!!
I sincerely hope things can change so that no one else will have to go through this…..