Last year there was a seismic shift within the world of sports agencies when more than half of the players selected in the first round of the National Football League draft were represented by black agents. This was the first time that happened. Another major achievement: A black sports agent rose to a very prominent position within the world's leading sports and entertainment agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA). BLACK COMPANY spoke to this shining star, Tory Dandy, about what makes a successful sports agent and the importance of seeing more black sports agents in the future.
BE: You were recently promoted to Co-Head and Managing Partner at CAA while representing a number of soccer clients. What does your new role include and how important is this new position to you?
Dandy: In my new role, I oversee and manage football match contracts worth over $ 4 billion. It was a historic step for the industry to be promoted to Co-Head and Managing Partner of football for the world's leading sports and entertainment agency.
When I was first promoted, I thought of the quote, "If you can't see it, you can't be." It gives hope to people who look like me and want to be leaders at the highest level. It shows the young black youth from a small town or big city or HBCU students that anything is possible as long as you work hard for it.
What are the most important characteristics and / or aspects of being a successful sports agent? Is school education just as important or can you learn on the job?
While education is crucial, real life experience is most important. It is almost impossible to be of merit– –based successfully with only coursework. There is no alternative to hands-on experience dealing with players and navigating the industry. Whether you are working with owners and directors, or you are recruiting talent and their families, the best way to learn is to be there and get that real-world experience. When dealing with these families or business leaders, it is important to have high character, morals, and integrity – these are things that cannot be taught.
Earlier this year, for the first time in the history of the National Football League, more than half of the players selected in the first round of the draft were represented by black agents. How important was this milestone and do you think this number will increase? Will black agents have as much influence as non-black agents?
This milestone is significant and it is not talked about enough. I believe this number will increase as more and more African American agents keep growing and increasing in their careers. We're showing the next generation of agents that this is possible. It shows the next generation athlete that they can have a successful agent who looks like them. I don't think the black agents are surrounded by "clout". I believe there is real talent there and it is finally showing where it needs to be.
What was your most impressive performance as an agent?
My most effective accomplishment as an agent is the ability and breadth to be part of every trip my clients take on and off the field. I am present both physically and mentally every step of the way: design process, career, career, and personal growth. I will always say that my greatest achievement is not how big a contract I can negotiate for my client (which is very important), but how I show up for my client.
What advice and / or suggestion would you give to a young black prospect interested in following in your footsteps?
No job is too small in this industry. I started in this business 17 years ago as an intern. In this room I developed real relationships that I still cherish, cherish and foster to this day. You need to know the business; Not just the business internally, wherever you are, but the entire business externally. A very important and probably the most important part of this journey is having a great mentor to learn from and grow with. My mentor was Eugene Parker, the most successful Black NFL agent of all time. He helped me to shape myself as I am today.