I would like to start by thanking Joah for the opportunity to offer my perspective. I wish you the best of luck with Real Role Models, my man, and all of your future endeavors. Joah and I met back on the UT campus through the Texas Basketball program while he worked in the media relations office and I was a manager-turned-walk on for the team. We enjoyed Texas’ Final Four run in ’03 and spent a lot of time with some of the players who played a role in making Texas a perennial power in college basketball.
We have continued our friendship since those days. After a brief stint with Nike, I started running a company dedicated to financial advising for athletes and other clients. In my line of work, I have the opportunity to work with great friends and family on a daily basis and remain fairly connected to the sports world. I will try and be as specific as possible, but in the interest of confidentiality to some of my clients, I must speak in fairly general terms. The following are some answers to questions Joah posed to me.
What Is One Thing Sports Fans May Not Know About Pro Athletes?
Sports are largely entertainment to us and it may seem like phenomenally lucrative fun for today's athletes, but it's an ACTUAL job! Many people would argue they work harder and are paid far less than athletes in general and while this may be true in certain cases, the physical and mental work a lot of athletes endure is quite time consuming and requires certain sacrifices much like any profession. The most successful athletes don't really have an "off-season" when you factor in what they need to do during the time when the season isn't in full swing. Of course there is time for vacation and fun, but not as much as most would imagine.
Why Is Working In Your Industry Fun?
I love my job. The combination of quite a few factors has led me to love it. I get to work with clients who were friends (and continue to be great friends) long before they became clients. I am faced with different situations and challenges on a daily basis which keeps me motivated. I enjoy helping people whenever I can, whether it's an athlete friend, family member, or the like. I believe that's what being in a service industry like this is all about.
Any Why is it Difficult?
The sports world becomes a difficult business environment at times. Athletes are constantly approached with private business opportunities because many assume they have access to large pools of cash. They also have a lot of different obligations off the court. Many make community appearances representing their respective leagues AND on their own. Marketing dollars are a great perk in the industry but also mean additional professional obligations. I am glad we aren't in the business of juggling these athletes' schedules. There are times when you'll try to reach an individual and hold extensive discussions about a variety of business topics and you may not always be able to reach them. I have learned to be patient in business and in my everyday life. It pays off.
How Are College/Pro Sports Changing?
I am a fan of the rule forcing high school players to attend at least one year of college before they can declare for the NBA Draft. I recently read they are even trying to tweak some of the age rulings. There are always pros and cons to any new rulings. Over the last few years, it seems we are seeing NCAA Men's Basketball positively affected by this. However, if you are a college coach who tries to recruit the best talent every year, you are constantly faced with trying to change your roster to fill the gaps departing superstar freshmen (as we expect with a lot of the guys you probably watched during this year’s tournament) leave all while remaining competitive. Some fans have a tough time keeping up with these changes as well, so there could be even more benefit to increasing this age limit by one or two more years. And although I talk a lot about basketball, but I keep a close watch on baseball, football, tennis, soccer and other sports. I think fans are going to demand more honesty in regards to every professional sports league when you take into account the scandals that have arisen in the past few years.
How Will Changes Affect the Business of Sports?
It seems to me like fans want to be closer to their favorite sports than ever. I think fans will continue to be granted more and more access with so many evolving methods of delivering information on teams, players and franchises. Let’s just hope we don’t see teams or leagues striking over the availability of sports related web content like we recently saw with the Hollywood writers strike! There’s much more to say on this matter, but maybe at a later time…
Who Is Managing Their Career the “Right” Way?
All of my clients are extremely dedicated to their careers AND their families. In my opinion, this balance is my kind of positive lifestyle. They see unique opportunities to create generational wealth and help a lot of different people along their paths to success. The willingness to listen to what we have to say and recommend accompanied by the ability to learn from non-sports related "wins" and "losses" has been what makes me proud of each and every one of my athlete clients. It doesn't take each young athlete long to realize the window of athletic opportunity isn't wide open forever. Long-term planning in the face of the early financial success has been important to each of them.
How Do You Spend Your Time?
I like to stay extremely accessible. My days are not very rigid as far as a schedule is concerned. While I do go into an office from about 9am-6pm Monday-Friday, that doesn't necessarily mean I won't be handling different issues and business opportunities outside of those hours. I like to keep a close eye on the numbers for each of my clients who command a monthly budget. Each season and each fiscal year, we take the time to review the numbers and see where we hit or missed. I review any private equity opportunity that may pass across the desk of any of our clients to summarize the financial risks and rewards involved with the proposed investment. We assist many clients with the purchase and sale of real estate, vehicles, and more. We keep each client as organized as possible for tax season. On top of these activities, a good portion of my week is spent managing client relations along with the day-to-day operations of our business.
Adam Gracely leads a financial management firm based in Houston. He counts professional athletes among his clients.