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How Should I Prepare for Sports Contract Negotiations?

Posted by Eric D. Anderson | Sep 27, 2019

With Kevin Durant stunning the NBA with his exit from the Oklahoma City Thunder and defection to the Golden State Warriors, it seemed like a good time to take a look at contract negotiations in sports. Recently, a professional sports team drafted one of our clients and we found ourselves looking at a variety of factors in determining whether or not he should accept their offer. Sports contract negotiations are usually high-stakes matters. Whether this is your first contract or you're renegotiating for a higher salary, it is critical that you are well prepared long before the talks begin.

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One of the smartest steps you can take to secure a fair contract is to discuss your situation with an attorney who has experience in these areas. This might include labor attorneys, an entertainment attorney, or other counsel that have been involved in negotiating both salaries and ancillary benefits seen in the sports and entertainment fields. A lawyer well versed in contracts will evaluate your case, identify the goals and interests on both sides, and use proven negotiation strategies to secure the best deal possible. You should ask a prospective attorney what his or her experiences are in this area. Feel free to ask them what they have learned in prior contract negotiations that they can use in your matter. Never be afraid to ask questions.

Call 909-283-5494 to schedule a consultation. Until then, read on to learn four steps to take before sports contract negotiations:

  1. Identify Your Goals

As explains, money is usually the main consideration when negotiating a sports contract. However, these can be complicated agreements with dozens of variables such as incentives, contract terms, copyrights, trademarks and duration.

For others, issues like geographic placement are of key concern. For others, depth charts and opportunities to learn other skills outside of on-field play are of primary concern. And we can never underestimate the power of a sports organization's corporate culture. Love them or hate them, there is a reason players take less money to play for the New England Patriots

If money is your main concern, start with a high offer but try to be realistic. Asking for too much money can kill the negotiations before they begin. A good negotiation team should take the time to do the homework to come in with realistic financial demands and offers.

  1. Gather Information

Often, the party that “wins” contract negotiations is the one with more information. Try to find out what options the other party has if the negotiations fall through. Is there a lot at stake if they don't sign you? If so, then you may be able to negotiate for a higher salary.

  1. Choose Your Negotiation Strategy

There are several negotiation strategies, and the best approach depends on your particular situation. Three of the most common are:

  1. Pursue a salary that is fair based on industry standards;
  2. Pursue an agreement that the other side believes is a good deal;
  3. Or pursue the maximum salary possible.

Option one removes the burden of proving that an athlete is worth the contract terms. This is a cooperative approach that will give both sides peace of mind.

Regarding option two, it is always good to convince the other party that it is getting a good deal. Although there are several concessions you can make the accomplish this, one of the best ways is to start with a high offer. This will give you some wiggle room, and if the final salary is slightly lower than your original request, the other party is more likely to be satisfied with the agreement.

Option three should be approached cautiously. If your initial offer is too high, the negotiations might die prematurely.

  1. Consult a Contract Lawyer

Contract negotiations can be complicated, and using the wrong strategy could cost you a veritable fortune. A contract lawyer with negotiation experience will help you avoid mistakes and fight for a fair deal.

If you need an attorney to review your sports contract, or if you have questions about contract negotiations, contact Eric D. Anderson Law, LTD. Call 909-283-5494 to schedule a consultation.

About the Author

Eric D. Anderson

Eric Anderson: Civil Trial lawyer, Criminal Defense Lawyer, Sin Lawyer

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