Tom Politi, FIBA licensed agent from the UK, explains the many advantages of Sportiw for an agent and talks about the relationship he has with his players. He shares all this in an exclusive interview he gave to Sportiw!
Tim Politi (left) and Raheem May Thompson (right)
Sportiw & the agents
How does Sportiw help you in your recruitment?
Sportiw has been very effective for marketing my players to coaches I do not yet have direct contact to. It has been particularly successful in France where I’ve been able to secure multiple offers this summer.
The concept immediately resonated, because it’s working like LinkedIn, a tool I used on a daily basis for my work. I definitely think Sportiw can provide a similar service to the professional basketball industry and its value will only increase as more players, coaches and agents are joining the platform!
What advantages does Sportiw bring to clubs, agents and players?
You know, relationships are important in any professional industry and I’d say even more in basketball. Because of the given discrepancy between talented players and jobs, as well as the lack of consistency in recruitment processes. Whatever your role, having a tool that can help you connect with potential partners is certainly a real benefit.
I would say specifically for coaches and agents having all players’ information compiled clearly on a single page is great! I also find the Sportiw rating system for premium members to be pretty accurate and therefore helpful in quickly assessing many profiles.
For players, the ability to see and apply for jobs directly is a great benefit. Not only because it allow them to make connections they wouldn’t be able to otherwise, but also because it allows them to get a feel for the market in seeing what jobs pay, as well as the skills & experience teams look for at the various levels.
Zoom on the agent's job...
What are your roles as an agent?
Tom Politi (left) and Jordan Williams (right)
I actually see career management as my primary role, with recruitment services fitting into a bigger picture. This requires me to work with each player individually, to develop a long-term strategy that will hopefully see them reach their full potential and maximise their income throughout their playing career.
I also feel I have a duty to my players in terms of supporting their off-court ventures and ensuring their life after basketball makes sense and is exciting for them. It may sound a little cheesy, but I think it is really important to be a friend. Being a pro player can be a challenging and lonely existence at times. So I do my best to ensure that all my guys know that I am there for them.
One thing about being an agent that someone outside of the job might not know?
It is certainly not as glamourous a job as people think! A lot of admin is required to ensure you are organised. There’s lot of late nights crafting/responding to e-mails as well as checking on various news sources to stay up to date with what’s going on in the market. The other things that people don’t see is that in order to achieve any kind of success you have to take a lot of rejection and disappointment. As someone who really cares about what I do this can be tough for me emotionally at times. However, my love for people and the game always keeps me going in a positive direction!
What changed in your life when you became an agent?
Having mostly worked with FTSE companies in my previous recruitment roles, I was shocked at the lack of regulation and professionalism that exists in much of the pro basketball industry. In the corporate world, you have Labour Unions as well as HR & Legal support for any disputes. This will often ensure any issues are resolved before there’s any escalation. But in basketball, unfortunately there is not much protection for players at present…
Is marketing a big part of the agent's job?
Absolutely! I personally don’t find social media healthy so I try to avoid it as much as I can. However, I am lucky in that I have people who can support me with that side of our marketing activities. I much more enjoy pro-active marketing directly with Coaches, GMs and Partners which in my experience actually tends to be more effective than posting content on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc…
What tips would you give to an aspiring agent?
Focus on building long–term and meaningful professional relationship rather than go for the quick wins. Also accept that getting screwed from time to time is a price worthpaying for doing the right thing and don’t allow yourself to become too cynical or pessimistic. Most importantly no matter what, never give up!
Tom Politi's career...
How did you decide to become a sports agent?
My Dad had a long and successful pro career, so I have always been around basketball and loved everything the sport has to offer. After I decided to give up playing competitively. I worked as a coach, then as a recruiter in the corporate world. Being an agent seemed like a great way to combine my passion, my experience and my professional skill set. So far, it’s turned out to be a great fit for me!
Tell us about "The Player Agency"! How did you come up with the idea?
I worked for a Spanish agency for a few years before setting up my own business. I think if you are truly passionate about something you need to have ownership of it, and the freedom to work in a way that aligns fully with your personal vision and values. I’m very grateful to my former colleagues in Spain for giving me the opportunity to develop and learn the business. My independent success would not be possible without that experience.
What are the objectives of your agency?
Honestly my main goal right now is just to continue to grow and make a positive impact on every person I work with… And hopefully the professional basketball industry as a whole. Obviously it would be cool to represent players in the NBA, Euroleague, etc… But I know I will only get there by offering a great service and growing with the players I have now. All of whom I believe can have very successful pro career. In terms of short-term expansion, I would definitely like to be in position to offer a high quality service to coaches and as well to female players in the near future.
A big thank to Tom Politi for this very interesting interview! If you want to discover other interviews of professionals from the basketball world, click here!