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Agents versus Advisors:
What You Need To Know

By Jason Wood

Too often sports agents/advisors are considered to be "a bad thing" when it comes to high school baseball players. The truth of the matter is that if your son is a potential early round draft pick a families best move is too interview and select an agent well in advance of the June free-agent draft.

As the summer season comes to a close, a new season is about to begin. And I am not talking about the college football season or the start of Monday Night Football! I am talking about sports agents recruiting for the most highly touted high school baseball prospects across the nation.

They have done their homework. They have attended the Area Code Games, East Coast Games and even sent representatives to scout select summer leagues. They will even go as far as having their high profile clients call potential draft picks in hopes the high schooler will be so impressed, heíll forget what is really important; his relationship with his agent.

As sure as I am about the fact that talented high school baseball players will have an encounter with an agent, I am even more sure they will hear an agent use the term "advisor." This creates an area of uncertainty for the athlete an their family. What is the difference between the two terms and why do I need either one of them? Here is the clarification you have all been searching for.

An agent, as termed by the NCAA, is any person who represents any individual in the marketing of his or her athletic ability. In my opinion, this is an extremely vague definition of an agent and deserves further explanation. The definition should extend to read to a professional sports organization because as an agent, our job begins in the adviser phase, even before the player is drafted. By telling you that our job begins in the adviser stage, I can explain the term and the role they play in the relationship with an athlete.

A good conclusion to the question: What is an adviser? would sound something like this. An adviser is someone who consults with the family on their college options, the athletes potential draft status and value and helps the player define their place in baseballís amateur draft, all while following the guidelines set forth by the NCAA to ensure the athletes eligibility is maintained. One thing an adviser cannot do is communicate with Major League Baseball on behalf of a player without putting the playerís NCAA eligibility at risk.

A term that many people in the business world frequently use is a product life cycle. There is an agent-adviser life cycle and I have demonstrated that in the chart below. This exhibit represents the typical transformation of the relationship from adviser to agent all the way up to the June draft.

August through June Draft
Families speak with agents about the possibility of the agent representing their son in the next amateur baseball draft. They tell you about their themselves and how they can help families through the draft process.

January through June Draft
The list of potential agents is narrowed down and evaluated more closely. A second meeting between the parties may take place. A family may even disclose to an agent they have chosen an adviser to help them through the draft process. During this time the agent analyzes the market and establishes parameters that will help the player determine if he will accept an offer from a Major League Baseball team.

June Draft
Once the team has presented the player with an offer that is within the families financial parameters and it looks likely that the player will sign a professional contract, the transition from adviser to agent is almost complete. When the team finally does give the player an acceptable contract and it is clear he will sign with the club, the adviser becomes the agent.

The evolution of the adviser to agent comes full circle once the player has agreed to sign a professional contract. The entire evolution process is designed to protect the NCAA eligibility of the athlete, thus increasing their bargaining power with teams. The object of the game is leverage. The smarter a student-athlete is and the larger the value of the college scholarship, the more power the athlete has in negotiating a contract.

Everyone has his or her own opinion on whether an agent is needed. In my own experiences, I have found that players at all levels of professional baseball progress through the organization at a much faster pace when they have an agent.

Regardless of the round you are selected in, even if you go unselected, it is good to have an agent you turn to for advice. Remember, better to have had and not used at all than to not have and need.

I welcome your comments and questions. Please email any correspondence to: Jason Wood Jason Wood is a licensed sports agent in the State of Florida.

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