The Rise of Free Agency and Sports Management

By: Shay Rosen

Free agency has been called the ruination of professional sports, though it has done little to curb our nations appetite for all things athletic. If anything, free agency has managed to attract more attention to the team sports we love, with individual salaries and performance being scrutinized almost as much as team play.

There was a time when baseball writers would praise the opposing team instead of lament the performance of individual players. Bill Buckneresque errors aside aside, if the home team was behind a run with a man on in the 9th inning of a baseball game or down by three on the opposing teams 40 yard line in the in the fourth quarter of a football game, the onus wasn't on who failed to drive the man on base in or kick the tying field goal.

Free agency put an end to those days, and now the media and consequently we, the public, demand to know why high paid players aren't capable of producing when they're needed most. If one ever wonders how or why free agency changed the way we view players involved in team sports, the first point of investigation centers around the lucrative business of sports management.

Management agencies and individual agents are the power brokers of the sports world. Ever wonder how an athlete's stats match up to others in his or her salary range? Just ask an agent. Sports management has become such a popular field that there are now college degree programs devoted to it, which says something not only about its popularity within our society but about the financial gain that can be garnered from the field as well.

Some agents are as popular as the clients they represent and through their savvy deal-making abilities, have become household names in their own right. Sports management agents are like any other talent management agents or business representatives, yet are separated by the variables that surround their clients. Age, previous performance, projected stats, injuries, the status of comparable player's salaries and the market for their player's position are the tools of the trade. When those variables favor the athlete, they're all that matters. When they don't, agents are the first to tout the intangibles such as leadership, a team oriented attitude, media presence and personality.

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