Before I begin, understand that this is an opinion piece. This is what I think and not meant to say agents are bad if they do this. There are probably reasons I have not thought about why an agent would tell a player that they will ”help” them, but it would take a very reasonable argument to convince me otherwise. The only legit one I can think of is if the player were already an established player and on the downside of his/her career. That, I can understand for both parties. I mostly have an issue when it comes to players that have either never played overseas or have little experience.
So now that I got that out of the way, here is what I am talking about first. Agents sometimes will not SIGN a player to their roster, but will instead tell them that they will “help” them out and if something comes across the table. If the agent deems that the job is interesting for the player, he/she will let the player know.
There are two points I would like to discuss before I go further.
- Yes, I know that players probably have a few other agents doing the same thing and are likely not signed to any of them. I also think that is not the greatest strategy and have said so repeatedly.
- Yes, I know that there is technically nothing wrong with agents doing this. I do not believe it is unethical or anything of that nature. Players are allowed to have more than one agent and agents are allowed to have players outside of their roster.
I also realize that sometimes an agent will do this for a friend or an acquaintance or possibly a friend of a friend.
Here is why I do not this practice though.
- It gives the player the hope that the agent is WORKING for the player. Maybe not in all cases, but the agent is not working for the player. The agent is working for the players in his/her roster that they have signed and invested time and effort in. If you are not signed, there is no obligation for the agent to find you anything! If something comes across the agent’s desk that is not suitable for a player on their roster (possibly from a partner agent), then MAYBE the agent will pass it on to Player X that is not signed with them. Now, that does not mean it is tailor-made for Player X…it just means that in order not to let a possibility of networking with a team and keeping or establishing a relationship with a team, they pass it on to Player X. Yes, I know this is not ALWAYS the case, but come on agents, if Player X was good enough for you to “help”, why aren’t you signing Player X? Players, please ask yourself that very question and ask any potential agent that wants to help you. If you are ok with the answer, fine…just understand that the agent is NOT working for you.
- The player gets lazy. I have seen and heard this time and time again from players when I ask questions before a consultation. Me: “Do you have an agent?”…Player X: “Nah, but I got a few agents trying to HELP me.” The problem I see is that the player thinks if he/she has a bunch of different agents HELPING, then it increases the likelihood of landing a gig. Not true in this business! If a team looks at player profiles from an agent, Player X will most likely not be in there. If the player is not signed, why would an agent create a profile, etc. for him/her and send it out to teams? Or on the flip side, even if an agent does that, what happens if another agent does the same and creates a profile and sends it to that same team? The team gets confused because they won’t know which agent is representing the player. The team wants no part in agent drama over who gets the commission, so the team looks at another player instead. So if a player gets lazy and relies on agents helping, it decreases the chance of getting a gig…and the player never realizes it because of course, the agent has no obligation to come back to the player and report why no deal has come because the player is not signed with the agent…no obligation remember?
These are the reasons why I suggest that players always look for an agent that will sign them and believes in their ability. It is a safer bet although no agent can promise a player a job. There are too many factors involved…but…at least you will have the peace of mind that the agent is invested in finding you a job that fits YOU and not just a job that comes across the desk that no one else wants.
I would be glad to hear from any agents that would like to explain to me why they do this. I never proclaim to know everything and I learn every day. Convince me otherwise.