Why signing a contract to play American Football abroad is a business decision

Editor’s note: Although this article was first published early in 2017, it has as much relevance today and in particular now with more and more players looking for teams.

As an American football player, you decide you want to play professional American football internationally.

On one hand, you have made a decision to continue to play the game you love. On the other hand, you are making a business decision.

Believe it or not, as a professional, you must look beyond just your choice to play American football. You must consider all of the aspects and expectations of you as a professional and negotiate them in your contract. The goal of this article is to provide you with the ability to negotiate a suitable contract and create a win-win for you and your prospective team.

Certainly, there are plenty of frightening stories about players who have signed with teams or teams who have signed players and the outcome wasn’t beneficial to either party. Well, before you find yourself or your team in this situation… do your homework.

Negoiate like a pro

Begin the business process by dividing the negotiation into sections. Do not take an all or nothing approach to the process. For example, negotiate salary first and make sure you reach an amount both you and your team can agree on. Remember, your salary is based on your financial needs and not about the financial issues of the team. Also, don’t tell the team your personal financial difficulties. Discussing personal issues is not professional regardless of who is doing the negotiations.

When it comes to setting your salary or market price, be sure to research both supply and demand before setting your fair market value. To illustrate, if you are the quarterback, contact several teams and ask them what are they paying their import quarterback. You should find the highest paying and lowest paying organization on the market and, based on your findings, set an amount which meets your financial needs.

Better yet, do a comparison study. You may learn German teams are the highest paying organizations in Europe, while Polish teams are the lowest paying organizations. In addition, if you are traveling to Paris to play you may want to contact other Parisian teams in the league and evaluate what the salaries are and use this data to make an informed decision. Once you reach a salary, be sure to negotiate with clear communication such as telephone, internet etc. Other factors to consider during salary negoiationas are your housing, meals, insurance, flights to and from the country, personal transportation within the country, and a health club membership.

Own your future

As an amateur athlete, you have probably not had experience with this type of negotiation, but remember you can’t be afraid to look out for your own well being. You are leaving your family and friends for up to six months or more.

Don’t become emotional about what you are asking for in your contract. Negioate from a problem-solving perspective. Stay neutral and avoid conflict by focusing on your objectives and maintaining a position based on justifiable principles and fairness. Take control of the situation. You should set up the date and time of the your negotiation communication. Be prepared, and have an outline in front of you of the topics you wish to discuss. Remember, if you set the agenda, such as time, place and the topics of discussion you take control. Send an email of the agenda to the club and set the time and date you want to discuss your contract.

Prioritize

Prioritize what is most important to you. For example, you may want to play more than you need the income. Therefore, focus on what will make you a better athlete. In this example, you may want to start with the training table, gym membership, and practice time.

Rank what is most important to you from the greatest to the least. Using this method, you will not get bogged down negotiating something that isn’t important to you. By prioritizing your desires, you can use the unimportant issues to offer compromises. For example, if your salary is important and a fitness membership isn’t than agree to take the it off the table. Try to meet your prospective team halfway.

Ask questions and don’t demand. For example, if you want insurance and the team doesn’t want to pay for your coverage, don’t get angry but ask them to explain their position. Remember you are trying to have an open discussion. Make sure you stay positive and upbeat. When you settle on something you agree with, point it out make sure you complement the team on their example from a collaborate standpoint. Have you research handy to back you up. Perhaps you are an offensive coordinator, research the salary of a college or high school coordinators and base your salary on your research. If you are not happy at the completion of the negotiation walk away from the team. If your goal is to play and you can’t agree on everything would like, you may choose accept the offer they give you.

Use facts and not feelings as the basis for cooperation. Remember, don’t make it personal. Don’t use words like I think or I believe. Focus on statements of fact. Let’s say, as an athlete it is important to get a goodnight’s rest and to consume a good nutritious meal. Including good sleeping arrangements and nutrition will reduce the risk of injury and sickness and this will ensure the team gets a good return on investment (ROI). If you agree to be a player coach, then you must be prepared to do both. If they bring in someone else to take over coaching, make sure it is outlined in the contract first.

Planning = success

In conclusion, before you sign your contract make sure you include the following:

  • categorize what you want from greatest to the least,
  • be fair,
  • take the yes approach,
  • be in control,
  • focus on what is important,
  • compromise,
  • don’t make demands,
  • point out things you can agree on,
  • conduct research,
  • don’t accept ultimatums,
  • and use facts.

If and when you finally come to an agreement with a club. avoid making verbal commitments. If it isn’t in writing with both parties’ signatures on the contract, then it didn’t happen or it was never said. Playing professional American football is a business decision and it must be treated as such. Make sure you have a signed contract before you depart for the country where you are going to play.

Lastly, have a great season, enjoy a new country, culture and people and most of all enjoy playing American football.

Interested in playing American football in overseas?

Register on Europlayers.com.

Europlayers is the largest online database of American football players, teams and coaches.  It is a connector, bringing together and introducing athletes to overseas teams. On the site you can begin researching teams around the world.  Once you create a profile, you become searchable by hundreds of American football clubs around the world.

John O. Anderson
John Anderson writes about the NFL and American football for Sportnet.us in Croatia. He also is the founders of www.euroamericanfootball.us and he has been coaching American Football in Europe for five years. Currently, he is the Defensive Coordinator for the Zagreb Patriots.
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