It could be argued (and I have heard it argued this way) that having an agent in snowboarding means you’re a sellout. It means you’ve admitted that snowboarding is a means to making money, and you’ve gone ahead and hired someone to find more money for you. However, as a snowboarder, your main concern should always first and foremost be shredding. Now, if you’re spending half the winter on the phone trying to negotiate with team managers and marketing types who either don’t know what’s going on or are just trying to hose you (remember, they’re gainfully employed, so it’s definitely a business to them), well, that ain’t shredding, is it? If riding is the most important thing, who’s the sellout? Maybe no one-maybe everyone.-J.S.
What’s the deal with sports agents in snowboarding? Have they changed the sport at all, or are they just a sign of the sport itself changing?
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“I think agents are an absolute necessity in snowboarding-that is, if you have the right one, which I most definitely do. They’ve really changed the sport for the better, because athletes can now get the compensation they deserve professionally. Of course, the sport itself is changing, too. The more popular snowboarding gets, the more companies-’core and corporate-want to use riders to sell their products. So, in my opinion, riders should have the best representation they can find to get what they want out of it.
“I’ve been working with Infamous Management Inc. since Sean Kearns started it a little over two years ago. When I’m filming and trying to get tricks, I hate thinking about the business end of snowboarding. It’s so hard for me to focus anyway, let alone having the burden of dealing with some contract or negotiation on my shoulders while getting ready to drop in. Being able to just focus on my snowboarding is absolutely key for me. I also wanted an agent who could convey to companies and team managers the pain and endless hard work of filming video parts year after year. Kearns has done it all-from being a pro snowboarder to running companies and making snowboard films. The ways he and Roberta (Rodger) have helped my career are endless.”
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“It’s pretty crazy being a part of a sport early on and watching it evolve. When sports agents began popping up in snowboarding, I didn’t really know what to think. Now I think that they’re a good thing-especially when you’re trying to make a living doing what you love. Once any snowboarder reaches that point where companies are contracting them out, it’s good to have someone with the right knowledge handling the ‘business’ so the rider can do what they do best-ride.
“I doubt that agents have really changed snowboarding-they’re just a sign of the sport itself changing. It’s way beyond a simple winter activity now-it’s become entertainment and reached the levels of outside-industry interest. Corporations are reaching for snowboarding to market to this whole ‘new’ generation, and that’s when agents are really important-when companies outside the snowboard industry want to use a rider’s name to boost their sales.
“Personally, I don’t have an agent. I think they’re looking to represent riders who are marketable toward more corporate sponsors or outside-industry companies, and I consider myself more on the ‘core side of the industry that focuses on video and snowboard-media coverage. Agents might not see that as very profitable, I guess.”
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“Sports agents can be helpful in a lot of ways for a rider. It’s nice to have mine around to represent me, help manage sponsor issues, and generally take care of certain needs. It’s important to me to be up-to-date and a part of what’s goingg on internally with my sponsors, too. With an agent, I can focus more on what matters-like shredding, and designing and testing products. They’re also the medium between riders and the ‘corporate’ sponsorship world and play a roll in reaching a larger audience for us. I’ve had a good relationship with my agent-he knows my goals and plans for my career. The only drawback, of course, is paying out a percentage of what I make-but I think it’s a positive thing knowing that he has my back and is looking out for my future.”