Protecting Athletes On and Off The Playing Field: An Examination of Sport Agents, Athletes, Managers, and Contracts
by Mark Daniel Chan
Taguig City, Philippines — SportPhil, in collaboration with the National Center for Mediation (NCM) and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), organized “THE REAL SCORE: Understanding Player’s Contracts and Sport Manager’s Obligations” last March 10th. This topic has become of great interest in light of the increase in professional sports leagues in the country in recent years, among the fastest in Asia. The two guest speakers who delivered the talks at PCCI’s B.A. Securities Hall were Mr. Michael Reyes, a former football national athlete and manager of Ignite Sports Group, and Atty. Rene “Rebo” Saguisag, Jr., UAAP Basketball Commissioner.
In his talk entitled “The Essentials in Between,” Mr. Reyes described the local sport management landscape and the divide that exists between both sport managers and agents. In a sense, managers and agents are both collaborators and competitors. While the manager protects the interests of the club, he must also find a way to establish win-win scenarios with the sport agent, whose primary concern is to protect and advance the interests of his athlete clients. Mr. Reyes also talked about the “dos and don’ts” of sport agencies. He established, based on his decade’s worth of experience, some fundamental guidelines on ethical behavior for both the modern sport manager and agent. Mr. Reyes finished his talk by outlining the responsibilities expected from an athlete in light of his/her existence in this competitive negotiating environment.
In his “Demystifying Sport Contracts” talk, Atty. Rebo Saguisag highlighted the common misconceptions regarding contracts in the field of sports. He explained that “general propositions do not decide concrete cases,” a maxim that is practiced by lawyers worldwide. He also advocates that people behind the writing and implementation of contracts must move towards a simpler rendition to foster clarity. According to him, numerous factors sometimes come into play, starting with the “agency problem” of lengthening contracts for the sheer reason of being able to charge more for legal fees.
Atty. Saguisag proceeded to explain concepts, such as “fiduciary responsibility” and a proper professional attitude when it comes to dealing with sport contracts. He also discussed concepts, such as “taking the battle into one’s comfort zone” and the principles of settlement and mediation in cases of contract violations. Atty. Saguisag then discussed the importance of both knowing the “rule book” as well as the “spirit of the law,” which is often overlooked when the athlete’s welfare is concerned.
The question and answer portion was the highlight of the session, as both Mr. Reyes and Atty. Saguisag imparted their insights given the participants’ specific cases. The panelists agreed that athletes are degraded when referred to as “alaga” instead of as esteemed clientele. In the end, the role of mediation as a positive means to resolve conflicts arising out of disputes between the parties was highlighted as a way to create win-win scenarios for both the side of the athlete and the sport manager or agent with whom he/she has a contract.
The event proved to be a landmark endeavor as the Philippines continues to build its knowledge and skill base in the sporting industry. As more agreements between leagues, teams and athletes are formalized, the roles of agents, managers and contracts will continue to be scrutinized. By following and adhering to guiding ethical principles, SportPhil hopes to be a key contributor and thought leader in the development of mechanisms that will shape the sporting industry of the Philippines into the next century and beyond. By encouraging similar forums, SportPhil looks to continue to shed light into the seemingly complex but exciting frontier of sport management.
THE REAL SCORE, was hosted primarily by the National Center for Mediation (NCM) of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), led by NCM President Mr. Apolinar Aure, as part of their advocacy to influence sport organizations to similarly embrace mediation.
To know more about mediation and how to implement a dispute resolution mechanism in your sport organization, please go to www.mediation.org.ph or email the NCM secretariat: email@example.com to request for consultative meetings.
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