SBJ/March 26 - April 1, 2001/Labor Agents

Bergman piles up raves in young career

Reed Bergman, Scott Boras' 33-year-old partner in Impact Sports Marketing, came to join Boras four years ago much in the same way Impact lands most of its clients today — by sitting across the negotiating table while putting together an athlete deal, and doing more brainstorming than bargaining.

At the time, Bergman was at the small Atlanta sports marketing agency Career Sports, representing BellSouth Corp. He orchestrated a sponsorship deal with the Florida Marlins and then signed Alex Fernandez, a client of Boras.

Boras was handling some of his athletes' marketing deals himself back then, and he and Bergman started talking. If they teamed up, Boras said, he would create a new company and hand Bergman his stable of athletes to represent in marketing deals. They would split equity in the firm, with Boras owning slightly more than half.

Still only in his late 20s, Bergman asked, "Where do I sign?"

An IMG intern when he was a high school student growing up in Cleveland, and a part-timer at CNN Sports while he was a student at Atlanta's Emory University, Bergman always knew he wanted to work in sports, possibly as a broadcaster. But faced with the thought of living in a small town covering high school field hockey to get his start, he decided instead to pursue a career in sports marketing.

Hailed as one of the brightest and best-connected young talents in sports, Bergman's trademark is the strategizing he's constantly doing on behalf of corporations, whether they are clients or have deals with Boras athletes or both.

"Reed understands marketing and strategy and helps clients' ideas come to fruition," said Steve Koonin, general manager of Turner Broadcasting's TNT and the former head of U.S. sports marketing at the Coca-Cola Co. "One of the things I was very impressed with is that when some of his athletes came to town, he brought them to our office [at Coca-Cola]. They were interested and engaged and willing to talk about how they felt about our product and give us input on how we could use them."

Those visits led to Coca-Cola signing several of the players, Koonin said.

"If more agents were that proactive," he said, "they would do more business."

It also earned him an invitation to Koonin's son's bar mitzvah.

"We consider him a friend of our family," Koonin said.

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