Roger Federer is getting into a new game: representation.
On Thursday, the active tennis legend announced he would be forming his own agency. The boutique agency, called Team8, was formed with Federer, his agent Tony Godsick and two American investors. The company, which will be based in Cleveland, will cater first to Federer, then to the sport of tennis, but also has aspirations of signing a golfer to the company in the "near term."
The idea, however, is not to take all comers, but rather identify specific athletes that fit the vision of the company.
“We’re trying to be a boutique agency that will manage just a small stable of iconic athletes,” Godsick said to the New York Times. “We’re really going to try to be selective here."
Federer's agency could be somewhat akin to Rory McIlroy Inc., formed this spring by the two-time major winner to represent his own interests after finding the somewhat boutique approach at Horizon Sports Management inadequate. So far, McIlroy Inc. isn't set to sign other golfers to the company, though it's not out of the realm of possibility it would seem. Adam Scott has his own representation team, but doesn't seem to have any aspirations of representing a broader set of athletes, much less golfers.
Despite their friendship through their Nike connection, don't expect Tiger Woods to jump ship. He has remained loyal to Mark Steinberg for the bulk of his career. Consider it a reciprocation of loyalty from Steinberg, who has never wavered publicly in his support for the world No. 1, even in the wake of his personal scandals stemming from a Thanksgiving 2009 car crash and revelations of marital infidelity. Steinberg moved from powerhouse IMG to Excel Sports Management in 2011, with Woods quickly announcing his intention to follow. Since, Steinberg has signed Woods' niece, Cheyenne, as well as Matt Kuchar, Gary Woodland and Justin Rose, among others. It's unknown if Woods, through his two personal corporations, has any kind of stake in Steinberg's golf operation or in Excel.
Then there's the other big name boutique shop: Jay-Z's Roc Nation Sports, which just landed its premiere client, baseball player Robinson Cano, a stunning 10-year, $240 million deal to play for the Seattle Mariners. That kind of deal, for a second baseman no less, is an impressive flex of muscle for Hova's agency. Could that impress a golfer enough to take a chance on an agency with zero experience in the sport? Jay-Z's massive cross-cultural appeal might be a great fit for the rare transcendent golfer, but the sport seems to lack one right now other than Woods and, perhaps, Phil Mickelson.
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