In this entry of “Eitan the Intern”, I interviewed sports agent Michael Bonanno of Oak Sports Management. Only 23 years old, Michael was recently featured as the cover story in Biz Magazine. I was able to catch up with Michael over email to ask him some questions about his profession.
Here is my Q&A interview with Michael:
What influenced you to become a sports agent?
MB: Business and personal relationships. I played professional baseball and always enjoyed the business side of it. I enjoy being around the game and enjoy seeing a client succeed and do well.
How were you able to become a sports agent?
MB: I was a law major while at Brevard College (FL), and when my playing career finished, through a mutual contact, I met the President of our company (Don Webster). We discussed starting the agency and why I believed it could be successful. Being a co-founder of a company with one of the top contract negotiators in the world is humbling. I try to learn as much from him as possible.
How do you decide when to sign a client?
MB: It varies, some perspective clients are referrals through current clients, while we approach others or they contact us. When we sign a client we want them to be as comfortable as possible about the decision. Ultimately if the agency wants the player, it is always his decision about what agency to join.
How often do you have to touch base with your clients? Do you tend to follow your clients on a day by day basis or do you tend to follow your clients weekly?
MB: Each client is different, I would say on average it is every 3-5 days though. Some prefer speaking daily, while others are biweekly or monthly. I leave it completely up to the player to dictate; they know I follow them daily and my phone is there day or night if they would like to talk.
What are the players looking for when they sign with you and Oak Sports Management?
MB: You are getting one of the top contract negotiators in North America, and an agency that prides ourselves on the integrity of our athletes and the game of baseball. We are committed to meeting the individual needs of our players, during and after their professional playing careers.
Does the prominence of agents such as Scott Boras or David Falk hamper the ability of smaller sports agencies to sign clients?
MB: It could, but I have found no affects of that. I respect those two individuals but am excited, in only one year, what we are accomplishing at Oak Sports. I believe what we offer as a company can compete with anybody.
How does becoming an agent for baseball players vary than becoming an agent for athletes in other sports?
MB: Each sport has different requirements to become a certified agent. Certain sports are a little bit more extensive then others. There will be a hockey division of Oak Sports Management, but I am strictly a baseball agent.
What do you consider the most gratifying and stressful aspects of your profession?
MB: As good as seeing a client hit a double, steal a base or strike a batter out is, the most gratifying for me is the personal and business side of baseball. Being able to negotiate a contract, get an endorsement deal or having them call me for advice is gratifying. In all honesty, I don’t stress much doing this job. It is very time consuming and isn’t easy but that’s what drives me and challenges me to become one of the best in this industry.
How do you maintain a contract for your client if he is either not performing well or not getting enough playing time so to speak?
MB: That is out of the agents hands and in complete control of the organization he is with. When speaking with the team you will know how they feel about him and if they’re in the team’s future plans. If a client is not getting playing time however and we believe he should be, we will contact the organization to get more information but it is a case by case basis.
What is the biggest challenge for a young player in the minors?
MB: The biggest challenge would be the competition and mental aspect of baseball. It's not an easy job being a minor league baseball player, it is a full out grind. Between the hours you put in, travel, competition, struggle and personal life, you need to be strong mentally.
Thank you to Michael for allowing the time to do an interview with him given his very busy schedule. I am sure in a few years we will hear of him and his clients quite often.
That’s all for today’s post. Have a great July 4th weekend.