Though the only natural light in the small conference room was slicing in from a tall, thin rectangular window behind his back, the energy of the speaker was enough to command the people inside it.
Leigh Steinberg has been a sports agent for more than 40 years, and he talked to UH students and others about the industry Tuesday at Susanna Garrison Gymnasium. He parlays his work and life in his autobiography, “The Agent: My 40-Year Career Making Deals and Changing the Game.”
Steinberg, 65, said he wrote the book because, despite the popularity of working in the sports field, he feels there is plenty that the modern generation of agents could do better.
“The first thing that motivated me is that I think traditional agentry is not done constructively,” Steinberg said. “It focuses too narrowly on putting dollars into an athlete’s bankbook without thinking about a second career or preparing him as a role model.”
Stein received his education from California but has links to UH through his work. He has represented former UH quarterbacks Andre Ware and David Klingler.
His appearance at UH was less of a standard book promotion and more a chance to share his life, work beliefs and goals with the attending students. With 40 years of experience to work with during his two-hour talk, he didn’t have many slow spots.
His focus was more on what he has worked for: things he cares greatly about and works for endlessly. Steinberg called concussions a “ticking time bomb that are a threat to football.” He’s held numerous conferences to raise awareness of the side effects and danger, which include Alzheimer’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and dementia.
Steinberg’s friends aren’t surprised that he has the energy for what has seemed like a dozen things at once since the ’70s.
“He’s all energy,” said Scott Irwin, a close friend. “To see him come back in these past few years has just been really great.”
After a bit of laughter, Steinberg signed books from a line of students. He had a bit of advice to students and the monetary challenges they often face.
“If I had my way, you wouldn’t have that anchor of debt. We would be subsidizing college education,” Steinberg said. “But find a career that’s not work for you, but it’s your life’s passion.”