WL Insider: Our Man in London

by Editorial

The Games, as seen through a sports agent’s camera phone.

By Doug Eldridge

TUESDAY, JULY 31 — The life of an agent is not what you’d imagine. Most people assume my job (read: my life) is equal parts Jerry Maguire and Ari Gold. Trust me, that’s not the case. It’s long days, short nights, constant vigilance, and relentless attention to detail. Every once in a while, however, you have one of those moments that make you smile.

Two days ago, we saw the Queen of England (see photos below) and last night, Bill Gates sat with us to watch Michael Phelps move one step closer to becoming the most decorated athlete in Olympic history.

One of the neat things about the Olympics is having the opportunity to sit and chat with someone outside of the normal scope of American business culture and simply talk about the common love of sports and country. We might literally be across an ocean, but American pride rarely runs deeper than it does in the spectator stands for the Olympics. Let me tell you folks, Bill Gates cheers just as loudly as I do, and Michelle Obama — who was here two days ago promoting her “Lets Move Campaign” — isn’t afraid to stand and clap it out when the stadium announcer encourages the fans to “make some noise.” Why? Because we are all fans. We are all proud. We are all Americans.

These are the rare moments that you have as an agent — seeing the Queen of England and the King of Technology mixing among the rest of us. Smiles, high fives and cheers. It’s commonality of purpose, pride in country, and admiration of the spectacle unfolding before us.

No it’s not all Maguire and Gold. In between these random encounters with the likes of Gates, I am tracking down helmets, tickets and last-minute uniform augmentations for my client, Bobby Lea — yes, three days before he begins competition in the Men’s Omnium — while still running DLE, a full-time, full-service agency back across the ocean, in the U.S.

An agent doesn’t just negotiate contracts, set up media and develop marketing initiatives for clients. It is rarely, Gates and queens. Rather, it is a litany of unglamorous, everyday, little things that make the difference. For clients like Bobby, not having to worry about these nagging details can make the difference in their focus and their ultimate performance when it counts the most.

And with that, I need to head out. This morning, I’ve scripted press conference talkers, finalized multiple contract details, worked out, and am now prepping for afternoon meetings and errands prior to returning to the pool to watch Michael Phelps write a page into the history books tonight. I’ll be sure to write about it tomorrow, but here are a few on-the-move shots, from my lens in London.

As Ferris Beuller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I am a creature of habit, so every day starts with the same routine, no matter where I am in the world: three espressos, two dozen emails and a stack of international papers I read through before getting in a 5-6 mile run, followed by a quick shower and change of clothes as I grab my tickets and agent credentials, and head out the door for the Olympic venue.

I arrived at the Olympic Park very early for a meeting prior to the morning prelim sessions. By the evening, this same ticketing area was filled with over 5,000 people waiting for "mag and bag," magnetometers (metal detectors) and bag checks.

Ever wonder how those high-res competition photos make it on the Web right after a race ends? Answer: In the media bay, all the photogs have a high-speed Internet hookup and between heats they plug their massive cameras into their laptops and upload key photos that they know their contracting media outlets will purchase. It's a 21st century digital footrace to get the photo to market first.

Queen Elizabeth made an appearance at the pool on the first day. Wearing a royal blue outfit with black gloves, she was taking a tour of the facilities. When the cameras spotted her, there was a roaring, standing ovation from every fan in the arena. She later passed us a mere 10 feet away in her armored Bentley. As an agent, seeing and working with star athletes and entertainers is the daily grind. Seeing the Queen of England, however, was really something neat.

On the way to the men's cycling race — which ended at Buckingham Palace — I stopped for a quick photo with the royal guard. It is true that they never break focus, they never break silence, they never shift weight from side to side. Rest assured, however, if any crazy, drunk, face-painted fans made an ill-advised run at the gate, they would be met with that bayonet.

This is indeed the largest McDonald's in the world, and the one you've read about as having been constructed on the Olympic grounds, specifically for these Games. Seem out of place for a competition featuring the world's greatest athletes? Not really. Remember, the Olympics are a sponsorship bonanza, and few have a higher global buy-in than McDonald's.

Doug Eldridge is the founding president of DLE Agency, a full-service sports, entertainment and communications firm based in Washington, D.C. A lawyer by trade, Eldridge is a two-time Ironman finisher, and a longtime track and field athlete. His agency represents sports stars across the NBA, NFL, FIFA, UCI and IAAF as well as golf, fighting and motor sports athletes in addition to a Personalities Division, which includes musicians, among others. Eldridge provides mixed media and strategic communication consulting, and is frequently sought after for his sports analysis by various media outlets including NBC, ABC, CNN and Fox. For more updates, follow him on Twitter @DougEldridge and @DLEagency.

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