HomeSportsAmateur Athletics:  Watch Out for the Sports Agents

Watch out for the agents

In today's high-priced professional sports culture, agents are the behind-the-scenes stars.

They're the ones who play hardball with the team at contract negotiation time, holding out for additional millions in salary, deferred payments, signing bonuses, guarantees and other perks. But what is their role in the amateur athletic picture?

It should be nonexistent, but it's not.

Like sharks closing in on their prey or personal-injury lawyers chasing down a traffic accident, agents can jeopardize an athlete's amateur status by entering the picture prematurely. Back off, pal: You'll have plenty of time to share in the riches when the kid is ready to turn pro.

Case in Point: LeBron James

Selected out of high school by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Born Dec. 30, 1984. Grew up in Akron, Ohio, where he played high school basketball for St. Vincent-St. Mary. As a high schooler, he received numerous local, regional and national player-of-the-year awards. A 6-foot-8, 240-pound point guard. Exceptional passer and shooter praised for his court vision. The buzz over James resulted in ESPN broadcasting his high school's basketball games. Was suspended for the season for accepting two sports jerseys but later had his suspension reduced to two games. He was the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft after his senior year.

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