The Sports Agent’s Job in The Information Age
40 years ago the existence of a sports agent was irrelevant. The average player earned $30,000 and most teams earned around $2 million as their share of the national television contract. Now, those numbers are 65x that of the 1970s, and sports agents have become the industry standard in starting and moving a player’s career forward. Catalyzing this growth, fans have increased exponentially as well as their engagement. Which begs the question, what is a sports agent’s primary purpose in a world of big dollar contracts and hyperactive online fans? The fundamental purpose will always be the same: to protect and promote the profitability of a player. But it can be a tricky question to practically answer when considering modern context- where sports players’ reputations are uploaded at 50 Mbps and crowd sourced by the majority.
Thus, the job of sports agent and publicist have become somewhat married and one cannot sell a player without first making sure their online presence is in order. Traditional social media has been a topic explored ad nauseum since its growth in the early 2010s, but many agencies overlook the social media underdog of Wikipedia. Even more social than “social media”, Wikipedia provides a consensus of information on a particular subject where online users are encouraged to contribute (yes, even anonymously) to the crowd information, all the while democratizing the responsibility for accuracy. Users can provide false information and then hide behind one another.
Unfortunately, Wikipedia readers (most of the internet users today) assume the information to be true and republish on other platforms that cannot be edited by the public. I recently worked with a sports player client whose ex-wife’s information had been added to his Wikipedia page for enough time to get picked up by IMDB where it now permanently resides on his profile- much to the dismay of his current wife and kids. Along with the blindly trusted reputation of Wikipedia, all the popular search engines favor, or create a subsection on their results page for Wikipedia pages. Try searching any person with a Wikipedia page on Google and you’ll notice that it appears within the top 5 results as well as a side bar of its own. Add together browser-promoted content, edited by people at whim and with no prior qualifications or ethical commitments, and the public’s trust in the source and you are facing a reputation crisis in the making.
In order to tackle this reputation management concern, sports agents should know several things about Wikipedia’s guidelines for engagement:
1. Anyone can edit anonymously
2. The editing process never ends
3. Wikipedia has no firm rules, as stated in the fifth of their “Five Pillars”
The first guideline can very clearly create problems for responsibility of accuracy- who is responsible when Wikipedia pages are actively promoted for editing by anonymous users? The second guideline compounds the effects of the first, not only can anyone edit, but the process of editing is never complete. False information can always be edited into a page, providing a continual challenge. The last guideline makes the job of correcting mistakes even more challenging, because there is no objective framework to work within, when making an argument for information to be taken down.
How does an agent manage such an open platform? Automated monitoring.
The most important form of player reputation protection is being proactive. Through many hours of editing and studying Wikipedia’s inner workings I have come to realize that cleaning up incorrect information on a page and then continually monitoring is the best form of protecting a player’s reputation. WikiPatrol offers instant alerts to ANY changes made to your clients’ pages, as well as small edits, page analytics, and link analysis. Protect your players’ reputations and profitability.