Hiring an Athlete Representative (Agent)
Once you have decided to hire an athlete representative, there are several factors that should be considered to find the right match for you. Athlete representatives must be approved and certified by USATF and the IAAF. If you hire your cousin to be your agent, he or she will need to be certified by USATF and pass the IAAF Athlete Representative Exam. Certification information can be found on the USATF website.
Stable of Athletes
When assessing agents, it is important to consider the agent’s “stable” of athletes. One of the best ways to assess who might be a good fit for you is to look at who else the agent represents. While some agents have very diversified portfolios, others primarily represent a certain type of athlete within track and field. Track and field and running encompasses an extraordinarily diverse group of athletes whose interests are not always aligned. If you are considering a career in professional distance running, you may benefit from looking at agents that represent other distance runners. The list provided has contact information for several agents who represent distance runners in the United States and beyond.
In addition, agents who represent other world-class athletes often have an easier time getting more of their athletes into the most selective meets. As discussed above, the importance of this is a sliding scale: the more track meets you want to run in, particularly abroad, the more necessary this may be.
Beyond getting you into meets and races, an agent’s primary job is to secure endorsements and sponsorships. The primary income stream for most professional runners is the shoe contract. Because an agent’s revenue stream is dictated to a large degree by the revenue streams of their athletes, agents are particularly adept at negotiating shoe company endorsement contracts and assessing the current value of runners from an endorsement perspective. When considering who to hire as an agent, you should not be afraid to ask what he or she thinks your value is.
Other endorsement contracts are harder to come by and any income earned from other endorsements may be relatively small. Agents may or may not always be looking for ways to promote their athletes in various ways that could generate revenue. However, never forget that your agent works for you. Don’t be afraid to present ideas and to explore other avenues for sponsorship. That said, it is important to avoid cluttering your schedule in pursuit of a few additional dollars. You still need to focus primarily on your performance, and not on income, as the latter comes with the former.
Ultimately, your choice of an agent may come down to who you like and trust the most. A component to all of this is personal fit. Talk with several agents and interview them to see who you like.REMEMBER: If you are an NCAA student-athlete you need to be very careful in speaking with agents and athlete representatives. It is better for your coach to talk with the agents initially and to perhaps set up some meetings to occur soon after your final NCAA race. You cannot agree to be represented by or sign with an agent if you want to maintain your NCAA eligibility. Consult with your coach and/or your school's NCAA compliance director if you have questions.