The Dotted Line Doc of the Week

The Dotted Line

This fascinating documentary delves into the cut-throat world of sports agents and how far they are willing to go to sign the next big thing. It’s a far cry from Jerry Maguire. BT Sport 1, Wed, May 9th 23.30

‘Show me the money’ as the famous refrain from Jerry Maguire goes as Tom Cruise shows his commitment to up and coming football star Cuba Gooding Jr. by screaming these words down the phone. Amusing, certainly, but perhaps a long way from the real rough and tumble of the sports agent’s world where, if this documentary is to be believed, everyone is on the make. We quickly find out that top agents are prepared to go a lot further than merely screaming down the phone to keep their clients happy.

Part of ESPN’s acclaimed 30 for 30 series, The Dotted Line shines a light into the secretive world of the sports agent where wheeling and dealing is a part of everyday life. Directed by Morgan Spurlock, it follows some of the top agents in the NFL, NBA and MLB on the emotional rollercoaster of recruiting, marketing and negotiating record-breaking contracts for top-tier clients. Nothing is certain until the contract has been signed – and even then, who knows?

The Dotted Line
also takes a long, hard look at the controversial role agents play in recruiting top level college athletes for football, baseball and basketball franchises. Tales of dishonesty and manipulation abound in an area that is considered to be American elite sport’s dirty little secret. Indeed, in one section we are given full unchallenged access to UCLA’s practice facilities as an indication of just how easy it is for agents to make contact with potential clients, many of whom are young and vulnerable.

Agents in action

Everyone has this image of a sports agent as a slippery character in a shiny suit, someone who is prepared to go to any lengths to secure a deal. But is this just a misleading caricature? Are they, in fact, nothing more than just skilled businesspeople? This documentary tries hard to remain unbiased, although there are unnecessary expressions of moral outrage from time to time which might better be left to the viewer’s discretion.

The Dotted Line starts with Drew Rosenhaus, one of the most famous sports agents in the world, speaking in defence of one of his clients. We also see and hear from a number of other current and former agents and NCAA personnel. We follow Eugene Lee, an up and coming agent, as he struggles to recruit new clients to his business. Lee is quite a likeable character and one of the few who come out of this piece well.

We see the ups and downs of an agent’s life as Lee leaves one meeting thinking that he has secured a signature only to discover later that from the coach that the player has signed with someone else. We also see him celebrating with staff after winning a new client, only to have the contract cancelled six weeks later. It’s a tough life for the little guy in this business.

There is also a segment devoted to top basketball agent Peter Greenberg who made his name by recruiting and representing some of the leading Venezuelan players in the NBA. Such is his power that we hear of players being desperate to sign for him rather than the other way around.

Draft day

But, perhaps the most interesting segment is the one with Lee grafting hard to get as many of his clients signed on draft day. With so much hanging on the outcome of this one event, it’s a nerve-wracking experience for all concerned which Spurlock expertly captures with a camera in both the players' and the agents’ room.

Definitely worth a watch.

Images: Getty

There are plenty of great documentaries to watch out for on the eir Sport pack every week. From football to golf, GAA, rugby, athletics and beyond, we’ve got something for everyone. Watch out next week for another fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse into the sporting world or go to for more sports news and stories or to find out more about how we're setting sport free.

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