The legendary Charles C. “Cash and Carry” Pyle, considered by most to be the first sports agent, negotiated a $3,000-per-game contract for Red Grange to play professional football for the Chicago Bears in 1933.
Today, salaries in the tens of millions of dollars are commonplace, and instead of theatrical promoters and impresarios, professionally trained businessmen and lawyers dominate the business.
Successful sports agents are comfortable with high finance and intense competition for the right to represent talented players, and the most respected agents are those who can deal with the pressures of high-stakes negotiations in an honest fashion.
But whereas rules and penalties govern the playing field, there are far fewer restrictions on agents. Incidents of agents manipulating athletes, ranging from investment scams to outright theft of a player’s money, are far too commonplace, and there is growing consensus for reform.
In “The Business of Sports Agents,” Kenneth L. Shropshire, the David W. Hauck Professor at the Wharton School, and Timothy Davis, professor of law at Wake Forest University, examine the history of the sports agent business and the rules and laws developed to regulate the profession. They also consider recommendations for reform, including uniform laws that would apply to all agents, a redefinition of amateurism in college sports (a point Shropshire and Davis suggest may be essential to rooting out corruption) and stiffer requirements for licensing agents.
“The Business of Sports Agents” is the most comprehensive overview of the industry as well as a straightforward analysis of its problems and the proposed solutions that will appeal to anyone interested in understanding the world of sports representation.
— University of Pennsylvania Press
Originally published on October 17, 2002