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  • CHOOSING AN AGENT A BLACK AND WHITE ISSUE FOR SOME ATHLETES

              The emergence of black agents was examined by HBO's
         Sonja Steptoe on "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel."  In the
         piece, Steptoe spoke with numerous black agents, including
         Kevin and Carl Poston, Lamont Smith, Johnnie Cochran, and
         Bill Strickland, as well as white agents Drew Rosenhaus and
         Scott Casterline.  Steptoe: "Among the 1,500 black
         professional athletes in this country, less than 150 are
         represented by black agents."  Kevin Poston, on a "built-in
         resistance" to black agents: "A lot of them feel that white
         representation is the way to go, because they've been taught
         that.  Their parents said that."  Steptoe: "[Lamont] Smith
         already represents superstars Barry Sanders and Jerome
         Bettis, but by partnering with [Johnnie] Cochran, he hopes to
         build a dominant full-service, multi-sport firm by convincing
         more black athletes to choose black representation."  Smith:
         "If all other things are equal, then wouldn't you want to be
         someplace where you feel comfortable?  And, they very well
         may have that same comfort level with one of my white
         competitors, but what I'm betting most of the time is that's
         not going to be the case" ("Real Sports," HBO, 11/18). 
               A NEW FORCE: Steptoe: "It was after April's [NFL]
         draft, when six of the first seven players chosen were
         clients of black agents, that the competitive threat posed by
         black agents became a topic.  Casterline says that right up
         until draft day, black agents were using race to try and
         poach his clients."  Casterline, who represents Raiders CB
         Albert Lewis, among others: "It should be based on talent and
         performance and experience, not race."  Rosenhaus: "I think
         that the only color that should count in negotiations is
         green."  Strickland: "When you've got to go into an inner
         city and deal with a family problem ... that's not about
         money, that's about commitment.  My experience has been a lot
         of times the white agent can't deal with that."  Strickland,
         on whether encouraging black athletes to sign with black
         agents constitutes discrimination: "It may.  But so what? 
         We've been discriminated against" ("Real Sports," 11/18).  
              TALKING TOUGH ON THOMPSON: Kevin Poston, on Georgetown
         coach John Thompson, who steers his college players towards
         his agent, David Falk: "It's one thing for a white coach to
         say 'Look, I'm making sure my athlete goes with somebody
         white,' but when a black coach does that, that means no
         chance at all. ... We're not talking about serving black just
         to be black.  We're talking about competence, we're talking
         about opportunity. ... John owes it to his community." 
         Cochran, on white agents pointing to the success of the
         Postons and Eugene Parker: "They are having success on an
         individual basis. ... These major agencies that have all
         these athletes [who] are doing movies and merchandising. 
         There's no African-American agents that have moved into that
         yet. ... They haven't had the resources or the opportunity
         because of racism."  Poston: "Take what the media calls the
         top white agents in basketball and football, and take away
         the black athlete, and tell me where you are? ... You're out
         of business.  If the whites just represented the whites,
         they'd be having trouble.  These are our resources, these are
         our kids, this is our future" ("Real Sports," 11/18).
    
    

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