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Andre Farr has helped change the sports business culture, allowing many blacks to succeed on the business side of sports. Photo by Jeff LewisBSAA- where sports meets businessBlack Sports Agent Association leveled the playing field for black sports agents.By Jason LewisSentinel Sports Editor
Black athletes have dominated American Sports for over half a century, but only a decade ago, there were not very many blacks on the business side of sports. “As African Americans we have always dominated on the field of play, but in the back rooms where deals were negotiated, and where the real money was changing hands, we had a miniscule amount of input or participation,” said Andre Farr, CEO of the Black Sports Agent Association (BSAA). Farr, a 1992 UCLA graduate, where he played football, looked to change the business culture so that blacks could dominate off of the field too. With the help of Jesse Jackson, Farr founded the BSAA in 1996, and since then he has watched the amount of black sports agents, as well as black executives, increase year after year. One major problem that Farr saw was the perception that black athletes had towards black sports agents. “The sports business is nothing more than a microcosm of traditional business in America,” Farr said. “There were certain African American athletes who would not interview African American agents or give them a shot simply because they were African American. The same way we question any type of African American business or professional group, we’re harder on ourselves than we are on other people. We’re more trusting in others than we are in our own people.”Black athletes were afraid to hire black agents because the athletes felt that a white agent could get them a better deal from their team and better endorsements. The BSAA has successfully showed black athletes that black sports agents can be just as competitive as white sports agents in terms of negotiating contracts and pursuing endorsement deals. The BSAA provides black sports agents with information that ensures that they are successful in representing their clients, and the BSAA promotes their members within the sporting world. “Just by exposing the successful agents that we have, it gives an image for people to see that some of the top sports agents are African American,” Farr said.One of the BSAA’s many success stories is sports agent Bill Duffy, who has become one of the most powerful agents in the world. Duffy has represented over 100 profession athletes, including 22 first round draft picks, and the number one, two and four picks in the NBA’s 2002 draft (Yao Ming, Jay Williams, and Drew Gooden.) Sports Illustrated has listed Duffy in the top ten of the “50 Most Influential Minorities in Sports” the past two years, and Duffy has been named to Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal’s “20 Most Influential People: Agents.”Duffy has been so successful that he has been able to represent some of the top non-black athletes in the world, such as Ming and Steve Nash. That is a huge achievement because Duffy was able to break the color barrier. The BSAA is known for advancing the career’s of black sports agents, but they do so much more than that. A decent amount of the BSAA’s 3,000+ members are not sports agents. A lot of the members work in other professions, but their membership allows them access to athletes. Many members are lawyers, CPAs, marketers, trainers, web designers, real estate agents, etc. Anybody who does business with athletes can benefit as being a member of the BSAA. Photographer Jeff Lewis is a great example. Through the BSAA, his company, Playmaker Images, has been able to secure numerous high profile athletes for photo shoots.“The BSAA is the gateway to the business of sports,” Farr said. “The BSAA, where sports meets business.”Farr has also created a mentoring program through the BSAA. The Disciplined Respected Entrepreneurs (D.R.E.) program was created to bring together the best and brightest African American college students and recent graduates specifically interested in business ownership through joint ventures and partnerships. “We believe that there is so much more power in being an entrepreneur, in owning your own business,” Farr said. “Being able to pass along an economic legacy to your family. We believe that young people are inspired to do that.”There is also the D.R.E. City Youth Exposure non-profit organization, which is based in Los Angeles. It exposes middle school students who live in inner cities to new environments. The main focus of the D.R.E. CYE is to enhance young lives through exposure, education, expression, and empowerment. One of Farr’s goals in life was to put himself in a position to help others, and through the BSAA, he has helped many black people become extremely successful. For more information on the BSAA, visit their website at www.blacksportsagents.com. For information on the D.R.E. mentoring program, visit their website at www.drecye.wordpress.com.
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