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Entourage

Guidelines for the Conduct of the Athletes’ Entourage

The Entourage Commission identified several elements that could benefit all the populations making up the entourage, and developed the Guidelines for the Conduct of Athletes’ Entourage. This document approved by the IOC Executive Board in Durban on 4 July 2011 is the fundamental basis of the following web section.

Guidelines for the Conduct of the Athletes’ Entourage

Entourage Groups/Populations

"The Entourage comprises all people associated with athletes, including, without limitation, managers, agents, coaches, physical trainers, medical staff, scientists, sports organisations, sponsors, lawyers and any person promoting the athlete sporting career, including family members".

A range of target groups/populations have been identified around athletes in an effort to provide them with a general understanding of expectations and the role each play in the athlete’s “performance system”.

Please click on "Families and Friends", "Coaches", "Agents and Agencies" and "School/Universities" to reach the new information and practical tips for these groups.

Further relevant information regarding the other athletes' entourage groups will be available soon.

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FAMILIES / FRIENDS

Parents

The whole family, and particularly parents, are encouraged to support and always act in the best interest of their children. Accordingly, the primary objectives of this web section are to:

  • Help parents in decision-making by providing tools and concrete examples,
  • Help parents to deal with the complex stakeholder environment of an elite athlete,
  • Help parents to maintain a balanced approach to the athlete's sport and entourage.
"The role of parents is very important because they are generally the ones bringing the child into sport. We would like to help them understand their role as an athlete's parent and what they can do to support their child."
Sergey Bubka, Chairman of the Entourage Commission

Parents have a very important role to play in the athlete's sporting activity. Together with the athlete, who is and will always remain the main player, parents will mature over the years. It is a challenging and never-ending process in which parents need to be advised competently. Also, the entourage of an athlete is a constantly evolving system. In this environment, the family, and particularly parents, is one of the closest and most influential populations.

Hot Tips for Parents

For parents, there are several issues that arise on a daily basis, but it is difficult to know who to ask for advice and, for the most part, there are no clear answers or plans to follow. Many issues arise because parents are unsure as to how they can best assist the athlete. Parents may often choose the less opportune decision over the more appropriate one.

Parents are primarily responsible for the overall evolution of the athlete as a person. At an early stage, parents should promote the notion of a healthy balance between sport and personal development. They should act as a regulator for young athletes, who could be still too young to have a clear and long-term vision of their career.

"Early in my sporting career, my parents were definitely the most important part of my entourage... I wouldn't be in the sport without them"
Angela Ruggiero, member of the Entourage Commission

Please choose the degree of involvement in sport:

Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced


Practical Tips for Parents - Beginner Athlete

The athlete competes at a regional level. They are at the beginning of their career.

Interaction with the athlete

  • Focus on and dedication to sport can often be detrimental to other aspects of the athlete's life. In order to help their child be the best athlete possible, parents should try to promote a balanced life. Try to choose their important activities, set goals in these areas and manage time appropriately to meet these goals.
  • Help the athlete to set priorities and manage their time. You should avoid deciding on their behalf. The athlete should learn about taking decisions and responsibility.

School and Education

  • Talk with the athlete about school education and not only about sport.
  • Help them to find scholarships. A lot of opportunities and work-experience positions are unclaimed because no-one knows about them. Contact their Federation or National Olympic Committee to see if there are any scholarship programmes.

Interaction with the Coach

  • Open, honest and cooperative communication is essential from the start of any relationship.
  • Organise regular meetings with the coach and the athlete in order to agree upon school timetables or schedules for training.

Interactions with other populations of the athlete's entourage

Agents

  • If there is a system of regulation or licensing, make sure the agent is a licensed agent. The National and International Federations will be able to give you information.
  • Never allow your child to sign a contract you do not understand - ask for the advice of an independent lawyer.

Media

  • If you need advice on what you could be saying or to get context on current issues, the various governing bodies of your sport can also help. Contact your National Olympic Committee and it will tell you what its position (or the International Olympic Committee's position) is on certain issues. With this information, you can then develop your own clear stance on the subject.

Practical Tips for Parents - Intermediate Athlete

The athlete competes at national level. They reach high junior ranking and achieve their first pro experience.

Interaction with the athlete

  • Be aware that competitive sport is complex, especially if the athlete has not participated at elite level before.
  • Support the perspective that sport is just a game, highlighting its values as a preparation for life. The career of an elite athlete is short and you should encourage the idea of a career plan.

School and education

  • For the athlete, one of the best way to build experience and education while competing is to volunteer their time. There are plenty of volunteer opportunities for an athlete - be it in the administration of their sport, in their local club, in a school, or at any events in which they are not competing. Encourage the athlete to fit such activities into their training schedule, as this will allow them to build work experience and learn new skills.

Interaction with the Coach

  • As parents, you must acknowledge that a coach's expertise and knowledge makes them an authority figure within the sport and that they must be treated as such.
  • In case of problems with the coach, try to contact or meet him as soon as posible. If needed, do not hesitate to contact the federation to act as a mediator.

Interactions with other populations of the athlete's entourage

Sponsors

  • Contact potential sponsors. Try to find sponsors that suit the athlete's sport and personality.

Agents

  • Take your time, together with your child, to choose an agent. It is a key decision that will affect the athlete's career. Make sure you find out important information, such as whether or not he or she is well respected in the world of sport. Ask for recommendations from people around you.
  • Stipulate a written contract with the agent. And, if nothing else, make sure the contract clearly states: the duration; how the agent will get paid, how much, and by whom; what the agent is expected to do; and how the contract may be terminated.

Media

  • If the media ask a question which you do not know the answer to, don't be afraid to admit that you don't know. It is better to stick to what you know and are prepared to talk about.
  • The best way to learn is to watch other people when they are approached by the media. Watch other athletes' parents - how do they react to the media? Who is well prepared and who is not? Try to see who you can learn from.

Practical Tips for Parents - Advanced Athlete

The athlete competes at an international level. Their focus is towards pro events and they have several years of experience.

Interaction with the athlete

  • Ensure the athlete respects the principles of good sportsmanship, behaviour and ethics. They should stay grounded, and parents should avoid expressions such as: "the referee was terrible".
  • No matter what stage the athlete is at, you should always try to manage them so that they live within their means and follow a monthly budget.

School and education

  • If possible, give preference to sports-friendly schools and institutions.
  • Speak to other athletes' parents to see how they have managed to find time for distance-learning education courses or short-term training courses for their child.

Interaction with the Coach

  • As parents, you must acknowledge that a coach's expertise and knowledge makes them an authority figure within the sport and that they must be treated as such.

Interactions with other populations of the athlete's entourage

Sponsors

  • Top athletes usually have no problem attracting sponsors. But those who do not stand at the top of the podium also have the ability to attract interesting and prosperous sponsorship deals.
  • Remember to check with National Federations and National Olympic Committees so you are aware of any sponsor-related opportunities or restrictions.

Agents

  • Take your time, together with your child, to choose an agent. It is a key decision that will affect the athlete's career. Make sure you find out important information, such as whether or not he or she is well respected in the world of sport. Ask for recommendations from people around you.
  • Make sure the agent will have no conflict of interests in taking decisions. Is he/she totally independent from clubs or other associations, for instance?

Media

  • If you need advice on what you could be saying or to get context on current issues, the various governing bodies of your sport can also help. Contact your National Olympic Committee and it will tell you what its position (or the International Olympic Committee's position) is on certain issues. With this information, you can then develop your own clear stance on the subject.

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AGENTS / AGENCIES

There are many agents and agencies operating in the world of sport today. It is not difficult to find them. What can be more difficult is finding one who is both competent and trustworthy.

When athletes become successful, they can often find that fitting in their training commitments with a host of other tasks can become a real challenge. In particular, they may find themselves having to deal with sponsors, broadcasters and commercial partners, as well as handling a lot of administrative tasks arising out of these relationships. A good agent should be able to help them do this by taking on responsibility for many of the administrative tasks and dealing with sponsors and others on the athlete's behalf, freeing them up to focus on training and competing.

An agent typically advises athletes on sponsorship and media issues, exchanges information with other sports professionals and makes sure that they stay on top of current trends, rules and regulations that are likely to affect their clients. A good agent takes the time to really understand the athlete, be completely aligned with their aims and ambitions and be sensitive to their needs.


Click below to understand the main differences between agents and agencies - and find out more about the role of a personal advisor:

Agents, Agencies, Personal Advisor, Guidelines for Agents, Case Study

Definition

An agent typically works alone. He or she is hired to negotiate commercial transactions, jobs and endorsements on behalf of an athlete. For this an agent receives a percentage of the athlete's income or of the value of the transactions negotiated.

Contract negotiation is one of an agent's most important responsibilities. An agent must at all times act in the best interests of the athlete. The agent and athlete should agree priorities at the outset of their relationship and ensure that the agent's vision takes account both of the short-term career of the athlete concerned, as well as the long-term plan.

Pros

  • Strong client focus as normally work with small portfolio of athletes
  • Personalised service tailored to the needs of the athlete
  • Closer interaction, stronger personal relationship
  • Fewer conflicts of interest
  • Athlete success relies closely on the agent
  • Highly flexible

Cons

  • Some agents have a narrow focus or limited experience
  • Some agents may suit athletes at a particular stage of their career only
  • The mix of personal and business relationship doesn't suit everyone
  • The athlete can become hugely dependent on just one person
  • Not all agents have a brilliant network within the industry
  • Not all agents have an open approach - there can be a lack of transparency

Definition

A company or firm employing agents and a host of other advisers, such as marketing, legal, financial and media experts, ensuring athletes get a fully-rounded service. The advantage over an individual agent is that the firm can put more resources at the athlete's disposal. Agencies typically represent a large number of athletes and are plugged into a wider network of contacts and others in the sports marketing industry.

Some agencies specialise in particular sports, others are more general in approach. The benefit to an athlete of having a large agency working for them can be outweighed by the sense that the agency represents many other athletes and it could be that the service offered is less personal. But a good agency will provide a tailored service to every athlete it represents.

Pros

  • Athlete works with an established entity
  • Agencies employ many experts and offer a wide variety of services
  • Typically boast a large network within the industry
  • Often have strong established relationships with sponsors and others
  • Give athletes increased credibility when dealing with sponsors
  • Operate in a transparent way

Cons

  • Athletes may feel they are just one of many clients
  • Representing many clients can give rise to conflicts of interest
  • Some agencies better at particular sports than others
  • Bigger is not always better
  • Personalised service may not be as easy to achieve
  • Fees may be high, reflecting agency overheads

Definition

The Personal Advisor's role is substantially different to that of an agent or agency. While agents will represent athletes in negotiations with sponsors, broadcasters, commercial partners and handle financial, broadcasting and other commitments on their behalf, the role of the personal advisor is to be a trusted voice - someone to act as a sounding board for athletes.

Some may have specific sports or business world experience but this is not always the case.

They often act as a liaison or buffer between the athlete and agents, agencies and the wider sports world and are usually trustworthy friends or relatives of the athlete, someone who knows them well and can be relied on for their sound judgment. They may have legal, media or other useful skills but their key characteristic is the close personal relationship they have with the athlete.

They frequently act as a filter for the athlete, acting as a conduit through which agents and others may first approach the athlete. Not usually paid, personal advisors will have the athlete's best interests at heart and no financial or other motivation of their own.

The main tasks of a personal advisor may be:

  • Helping the athlete choose between an agent or agency
  • Acting as a sounding board or trusted confidant
  • Providing a useful second opinion to back up the athlete's own instincts
  • Guiding the athlete throughout their sporting career and afterwards
  • Ensuring transparency among the athlete's entourage
  • Ensuring regular reporting and information flows
  • Helping provide a calm or familiar voice to the athlete

The main skills and attributes of a personal advisor (as compared with agents/agencies):

  • Will have general knowledge of sport and business
  • May have ability to review contracts, legal documents
  • May be able to negotiate in certain circumstances on the athlete's behalf
  • A sense of detachment to help provide athlete an impartial view
  • Act as a buffer between agents, sponsors and others and the athlete
  • A balanced personality, unflappable and dependable
  • Ability to shoulder high level of responsibility for the athlete
  • Willingness and confidence to stand up for the athlete's best interests

Introduction

The large number of agents in the sports world and their increasing role in the entourage of the athletes led the IOC Entourage Commission to produce a general set of guidelines for agents to provide a framework and certain standards for this activity.

These Guidelines were unanimously approved by the Commission and representatives from international sport agencies in August 2013.


Click below to access and download the document:

PDF document

Introduction

This section is dedicated to highlighting different case studies on the relationship between agents and athletes. These case studies will provide you with concrete information about the work that agents or agencies do for their athletes, and will also explore the different aspects of this kind of relationship, particularly the benefits for the athlete.

These case studies have been developed in close collaboration with athletes and their agent/agency, and are based on real situations.


Click below to access and download the document:

PDF document

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COACHES

The entourage of an athlete is a complex system with the athlete at its core. A coach plays a key role in this system and the quality of the relationship between a coach and the athlete has a crucial effect on the athlete's satisfaction, motivation and performance. Given the central place a coach occupies in the athlete's career, coaching should always mean being a teacher, counsellor, innovator, leader and a protector of the athlete's health and integrity.

Click on "more" to discover videos, IOC activities and information on coaches and their environment.

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SCHOOL / UNIVERSITIES

Managing your education alongside an elite sporting career can be a challenge. Choosing an educational institution that understands the unique needs of athletes can therefore make all the difference and enable them to combine their studies with their training regime.

Click on "more" to discover the key aspects to consider when choosing the right educational institution for you.

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LEGAL DISCLAIMER

The information and opinions contained in the present website site are provided for personal use and informational purposes only and are subject to change without notice.

The content of this internet site is purely informative and is not aimed at promoting the services of an agent, agency, personal advisor or any other third party. The content of this internet site is intended to widen awareness of the role that agents, agencies personal advisors and other third parties play. No information appearing on this site shall be deemed as an offer for services related to agents, agencies, personal advisors or third parties.

The IOC shall have no liability as a result of your relying on information or material published on this website. While the IOC uses reasonable efforts to obtain information from sources believed to be reliable, no warranty expressed or implied is made regarding the accuracy, reliability, actuality and completeness of any information or opinion contained in this website.

Moreover, the information displayed on the website does not constitute, and shall not be considered under any circumstances as legal or other advice. You should seek independent advice before taking any decision based on information contained in the present website.