What Role Can Agents Play in an Athlete’s Success?
As the sport of CrossFit continues to evolve and professionalize, the offers, opportunities and earning potential for competitors rises with it. If your bread and butter is fast exercise, how are you supposed to know how to navigate contracts and deliverables with major brand partners? That’s where an agent comes in — a role that many are just becoming familiar with lately.
“It’s not that long ago that the sport just didn’t recognize agents. We just had to work on the outside and work in the dark,” said Snorri Baron, founder of Bakland Management. “But CrossFit really paid us a lot of respect at the last Games.”
With an extensive background in advertising, Baron began working in the functional fitness industry when he was seeking a career change that leveraged his knowledge of business and people.
“I had accomplished what my goals would have been in that, and I wanted to work with individuals. I was drawn towards working with individuals and building their own brand, building their social media and finding the pathway to which brand is a perfect fit to your character and personality and all of that,” Baron said. “This is something that I’m very interested in and driven by naturally.”
The Icelandic-based agent represents some top-contenders you may have heard of: Roman Khrennikov, Sara Sigmundsdottir, Björgvin Karl Guðmundsson, Gabi Migala, Emma Lawson, Ricky Garard, just to name a few.
While a coach generally manages programming and various related responsibilities to fitness specific outcomes, an agent helps with strategy, coordinating opportunities, negotiating contracts and sponsorships, and just about anything else that helps the athlete leverage their name, image and personal brand. When Bakland Management was founded about six years ago, there were far fewer agents in the space but the crossover from other professional sports is evident.
“You don’t go to the school of CrossFit agency or something — it doesn’t happen that way. So now we have agents who have been in other sports and come from other cultures also offering their services to trusted athletes,” Baron said. “…I don’t think there is anything different about us than other sports managers. We’re just working with athletes, trying to make sure that their paycheck is the best one and that they’re comfortable and feeling secure and operating at their best.”
It’s worth noting that a vast majority of CrossFit fans actually do CrossFit; an interesting component that doesn’t apply (typically) to football, basketball, soccer or racing, for example. When they watch people who seemingly workout at a local affiliate like they do, even though they’ve achieved much greater success with it, it feels far more relatable — a unique, marketable trait.
When something is suggested to you by someone who feels more like you or completes the same activities, the willingness to buy (and even be open to it in the first place) significantly increases; prompting opportunities with related, leading brands.
As the sport continues to morph in the coming years, we anticipate the role of agents will continue to become more integral in athlete success. And although the to-do list of an agent may vary significantly from that of a coach, the two generally work hand-in-hand and the desire to see the athlete succeed is the same.
“I enjoy this so much. I enjoy the competition aspect of it so much that I make myself available for pretty much everything during competition. If I can do something that helps the athletes get a little bit more time to rest and relax, eat and all those things, then I’m being of use. That’s what I want to do,” Baron said. “So be it washing their laundry or picking up their food or literally anything — I’ll just do all of it as much as I can.”
For more on our sit-down with Baron, which took place at the 2022 Rogue Invitational last weekend, tune in to the Coffee Break Conversation here (Rx only. Not Rx? Join here).