The man behind the scene

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Have you ever considered the people in the background? I’m referring to the people in the sports industry who never or rarely show up on TV or in public, but they are often a key factor of an athlete’s career, his public appearances, etc. Yes, I’m talking about agents/managers, who are sometimes even more important than athletes themselves. Ironic, but true!

Years, decades ago even, managers had a clear role in athletes’ careers: negotiate contracts (with the club, FA, sponsor, media or other relevant institution) and provide him with the best terms and services regarding his career (contract etc.). His main and basic role was clear: it involved serving as the link between the athlete and relevant sports institution. They were treated like gentlemen, men of honor.

However, with the development of the sports industry in general (marketing, sponsorships, TV rights …) and its economic power and independence, the impact of “new arrivals” of managers/agents was inevitable. With these “new arrivals” I’m referring to all kinds of people who came into the industry and, instead of working “by the book” (working for the good of his client), chased the economic benefits. These types of “managers” – I’m using citation marks with a purpose – changed the perception of managers in the public. They often carry a negative connotation, which is quite understandable: people in general don’t like people who exploit others’ (in this case: athletes’) attributes, qualities only for their own (financial) benefit.

Well, it’s also fair enough to see the other side of the story. There are plenty of great managers who are doing a great job, although at the same time they make a lot of money. But, sport today is a business; it’s understandable, as far as they’re working for the good of their clients in the first place. For example, just take a look of Jorge Mendes (pictured above with Cristiano Ronaldo), at the moment probably one of the best agents in the world of football (Cristiano Ronaldo or Jose Mourinho are his best known clients).

Mendes, who used to be a waiter (!) in Portugal, where he met football players – his first clients, is an extremely intelligent and professional businessman, manager. As a football agent he made a great fortune, but he almost never shows up in the public. Why? Because he understands his mission; he’s the man in the background.

On the other side, there is, for example, Don King (pictured above), probably the most exposed manager in history. No doubt, Mr. King was the reason behind the hundreds of millions of dollars that were invested into boxing, but at the same time he is the most controversial manager in the world and the person who is making a lot of negative publicity for sports managers.

My point in this post is to show the importance of agents/managers in the industry. A good manager could mean as much as a good coach or a family; he can guide his client over multiple obstacles that an athlete may face during his career. As long as he’s the one in the background, he’s a vital part of the team …

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