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Volume 22 No. 2
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CAA has strong contingent for new Olympic sports

CAA Sports has quietly assembled a roster of some of the most marketable, if not the best, athletes in the new Olympic sports of surfing and skateboarding, which make their Games debut in 2020.

Surfing and two skateboarding disciplines — park and street — will be part of the program for the Tokyo Summer Games in less than two years. CAA Sports is representing street skateboarder Nyjah Huston, ranked No. 1 in the world by Street League Skateboarding. In park skateboarding, CAA Sports is representing Tom Schaar, a two-time X Games gold medalist, and Jordyn Barratt, a 19-year-old who has won two X Games medals.

In surfing, CAA Sports is representing John John Florence, the reigning World Surf League champion, and Courtney Conlogue, who has been featured in ESPN “The Body Issue” twice and has won multiple surfing competitions, including the 2018 Vans U.S. Open of Surfing.

All of the athletes are co-represented by Lowell Taub, who heads up the Olympic athlete division, and his partner, agent Lis Moss. Taub started representing Olympic athletes in 1998 and joined CAA Sports shortly after it was launched in 2007. Moss joined soon after that, first as Taub’s assistant, before being promoted to agent. Together, they have represented multiple Olympic stars, including snowboarder Chloe Kim and gymnast Gabby Douglas.

CAA Sports agents Lowell Taub and Lis Moss (second from left) have compiled an impressive list of action sports athletes, including Chloe Kim (left) and skateboarder Jordyn Barratt.
Photo: caa

“Unlike our NFL business that might have 75-plus players or our NBA business that might have 75-plus players, we are very star-driven,” Taub said. “Because we are in the enviable position of being star-driven, we have signed five athletes who are clearly the best athlete in their sport or on any given Sunday are the best athlete in their sport.”

The agency didn’t sign all five at once — or even since 2016, when the International Olympic Committee announced that surfing and skateboarding would be added to the Olympic program. Huston signed in 2012, followed by Schaar in 2014. Florence was the last one — signing with CAA Sports last month. CAA Sports signed Barratt in September 2017 and Conlogue in March of this year.

Moss, herself a surfer, identified Conlogue as a potential client in 2016 and spent more than a year recruiting her.

“Over the years I’ve had many agents that didn’t work out for various reasons,” Conlogue said in an email. She signed with Taub and Moss after researching them, including their clients’ growth and success.

Taub said he believes that surfing and skateboarding will be right alongside the Summer Olympic staples of swimming, track and field and gymnastics when it comes to sponsor interest.

“Any time there is a new sport, there is a heightened interest and awareness around it,” he said.

Moss said surfing and skateboarding bring a “cool factor” in which sponsors are interested in capitalizing. Dedra DeLilli, group manager of Olympic and Paralympic marketing for Toyota, said surfing and skateboarding will resonate with a wide audience.

“Sure, the younger generation is the obvious target demographic and they’re crucial for most brands to attract and engage with, including Toyota,” DeLilli said. “But both sports bring new energy, excitement and an edge that I think people of all ages, ethnicities and geographic locations will rally around.”

 

Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.