Sports Agents: The Ultimate Game of Thrones

posted Nov 29, 2017, 9:49 AM by Ryan Allison
Making a career out of being a sports agent is much like a game of thrones. Those who are the most successful sit on a throne built on the talent of others. Being a success in this field is all about having a keen sense and a knack for mining raw talent. A career as a successful sports agent is all about having a contacts and connections that would be a “name-droppers” dream. The earning potential has no ceiling-but do you have the guts to enter an all-out bidding war for an athlete-well do you?

Twenty-one years ago, the second highest grossing sports movie of all-time hit the big screen and that movie was Jerry Maguire. For the first time, Jerry Maguire made the words “sports agent” a household name. ESPN reported that before the movie there was approximately 400 licensed sports agents in the NFL. Five years after the movie, there was a whopping 1,000 certified agents, which speaks to the competitiveness of the business. The character played by Tom Cruise was based on the real-life sports agent Leigh Steinberg, who some say was the “prince of sports representation.” However, the movie is a cautionary tale of fool’s gold. Being a successful sports agent is more about how hard you work, how outgoing you are, how you network, how well you negotiate, how much education your willing to get, and your hustle, than it is about rubbing elbows with elite athletes.

This week I was lucky enough to interview Chris Patrick, a licensed NBPA sports agent. Patrick is a success story in the field of sports representation with ties to the Central Coast-A hometown success story. Patrick is a PRHS graduate whose mother taught at Paso High and his dad taught at St. Rose, Paso, and King City. Patrick has one sister. Patrick played basketball and baseball in his youth and was coached by his dad and remembers fondly two coaches: Jimmy Roberson and Scott Larson from Paso high school. While at Paso High, Patrick played tennis. After graduation, Chris finished his basketball career at Division III Keuka College. Chris spent several years coaching AAU and one year as an assistant coach at the collegiate level. Chris said, “Basketball is my life, I played a lot of pick-up basketball growing up, and I still play three to four times a week-time permitting.” Chris went on to say that, “basketball is pretty special to me, it’s more than just a game for me. A chance to play and get a college education was pretty special.” Talking about Chris’s youth, out of curiosity, I asked him if he had a favorite NBA player growing up and Chris, with no hesitation said, “Magic Johnson and the L.A. Lakers.” Though, I have never been a Lakers fan I can understand being a fan of one of the greatest ballers in NBA history.

Chris Patrick has made a home in South Carolina with his wife and three children. I asked Chris if being a sports agent was always the plan, and what unfolded was a story of hard work, education, and success. Chris always saw himself as a history teacher and high school coach. In fact, to this day that is Chris’s dream job. In his early years of college, he didn’t even know what a sports agent was. Chris was taking units and playing his passion: basketball. In Chris’s senior year of college, he did an internship in a law office and fell in love with the law. Chris decided to pursue his JD. While Chris was in law school, a friend of his who played basketball overseas needed help with a contract-that was the moment in time where Chris Patrick saw his future in sports representation. While in law school Chris started his first agency, Court Vision XL, he was able to combine his love for basketball and the law. Chris went on to join Happy Walters and Relativity Sports, which at one time was the #3 agency in the U.S.

Chris Patrick is rather educated for a career in sports representation. Chris, has a bachelors in political science, a law degree, belongs to the Association of Sports Lawyers, and a MBA in business. Therefore, that qualifies Chris to offer more services for his clients, rather than just negotiating contracts. Chris does trusts, business documents (purchase of a restaurant or real estate holdings), and estate paperwork for his clients. Although a law degree is not required, this allowed Chris to separate himself from the average sports agent. Chris’s education allows him to help his clients prepare for life after basketball by helping them to ensure that they have a revenue stream when they leave the hardwood. Chris is an NBPA certified agent who found his niche in the business by representing under the radar NBA players, such as Eric Moreland, Robert Covington, Dexter Pittman, among other players. As an agent he has an eye for talent. He is able to watch an athletes game and see how their skill set could translate to the NBA. Chris is currently a partner in The Sports Law Group, a D.C. based law firm that serves players, coaches, or schools.

My impression of a sports agent after talking to Chris Patrick is the business is not as glamourous as it is portrayed in movies like Jerry Maguire. Slogans like, “show me the money” are better left in the Hollywood studio. If you are interested in a career in sports representation build your clientele with honesty and integrity. Always work as hard as you can, build relationships, build your reputation one solid brick at a time, standout from the crowd, be willing to go to battle for your client, and always stay humble.

To end the interview, I had to ask Chris if working in the sports field has enabled him to meet his basketball idols. Chris said, “Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, John Stockton, Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan was one of the first guys I met.” I also asked who he thought were the three greatest NBA players of all time, and not surprising he said, “Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan.” I like Chris, but “the king” would have made my top three. With Chris being a basketball guy, I had to ask about his kicks. I asked what side of the off-court shoe rivalry he landed on: Nike or Under Armour (Lebron or Curry). Chris’ answer was neither. He’s an Adidas guy. Well, Chris I got you covered I own enough Nike for the both of us.

Weston Hooten

Kid Sports Reporter