For nearly 15 years I have been blessed to work as a lawyer in professional sports. From 2000 through 2010, I was a labor attorney for the Major League Baseball Players Association. In November 2010, I started my own consulting practice where I continue to work in sports in various capacities. In addition to working on contract issues and other matters for some of the top agents and players in Major League Baseball, I have also assisted the National Hockey League Players’ Association in grievance arbitration and salary arbitration and have worked on a number of high profile sports-related projects. I count myself fortunate for all of the opportunities and experiences that have and continue to come my way. Now, I’d like to help you and others fulfill their dream of building a career in sports.
See part four of my five part series below….
Tip #4: Pay Your Dues
No matter how bright, talented, experienced or cute you are, if you want to work in sports, be prepared to work your way up the ladder, and be patient as you climb. Think about how interested you are in working in sports. Now think about the millions of other people who feel the same way. Now consider those who were fortunate to enter the industry and how long they plan to stay in the career of their dreams. You will then begin to realize that people who make it into sports, usually stay in sports … and they stay a loooong time! That’s okay, because once you’re in, you’ll be a long-timer too, if you remember that you must pay your dues.
The culture of sports on the field, where upperclassmen are starters and freshmen carry the water, operates in the offices and suites as well. You may be as talented as they come, but if you’ve just started in your sports job, you’re a rookie, and with rare exceptions, rookies have to bide their time. That’s okay, because if you’re good, you will advance, but it likely won’t happen overnight.
As you patiently work your way up, there’s something else you should remember: check your ego at the door. Because the sports industry is so competitive, some of the brightest lights tend to make it in the industry. Again, the sports culture is evident, as even the brightest lights understand you do what is necessary to help your group, team or organization succeed. That includes making photocopies, stuffing envelopes, or making hand deliveries. If such things are beneath you, you’re going to have a problem. Even the Executive Director of the MLBPA made his own copies and sent his own faxes at times. If you don’t like getting your fingernails dirty – literally and figuratively – you’re not going to go very far. Remember, you must pay your dues; and dues-paying often leaves you with dirty fingernails.
If you have a particular question on your mind that goes beyond the topics covered here, feel free to contact me by e-mail at email@example.com or Tweet me @JeffFannell.