Agent Spotlight- Peter Carlisle

While NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB sports agents get to see most of the limelight in the sports agent business, Olympic and action sport athletes need representation as well and the best in the business is Peter Carlisle.

Carlisle is a leader in the representation of action sports and Olympic athletes and has been at the forefront of this booming action sports industry for more than a decade.

He is the head of Olympics and Action Sports at Octagon, the largest sports and entertainment marketing firm in the world.

One of only two sports agents to be inducted into Sports Business Journal’s “Forty-Under-Forty” Hall of Fame, Carlisle oversees a global business that provides career management for Octagon’s Olympics & Action Sports clients

If you are an Olympic or X-Games athlete hoping to make a name for yourself, you know his name.


Carlisle earned his J.D. from the University of Maine and B.A. from Bates College and is a member of the Maine and New Hampshire State Bar Associations. In addition, he has served as an Adjunct Professor of Sports Law at the University of New Hampshire and Maine School of Law.

Being a former practicing lawyer, Carlisle is an experienced negotiator who resides in Portland Maine. Carlisle saw the challenges athletes face in the corporate structure.

Carlisle began working with alpine and cross country skiers to assist them with their marketing. He then represented snowboarders, which eventually became his main focus and signed several young athletes, including one of the young prodigy’s in the sport, Ross Powers.

He started his own agency, Carlisle Sports Management and in the late 90s major agencies began to recruit him and his company.


Octagon, which is based in Washington D.C., was one of those companies and after serious talks reached an impasse because he wanted to stay in Portland and not move to D.C., something that really surprised Octagon because they assumed that he would jump at the chance to join them in Washington.

Talks were suspended for nine months until Octagon realized that it did not matter where Carlisle was based just that they wanted him on their team and a deal was done.

To them the advantage was Carlisle himself and not where he was located as he had carved a niche in extreme sports.

Carlisle’s division has become so well-known in the Olympic and action sports community that athletes sometimes assume Portland is home to Octagon’s headquarters.


Carlisle believes that athlete marketing is a business-to-business transaction that companies use for their unique content and with the right campaign; athletes can create a third dimension of corporate communications.

In order for an athlete to be marketable, three things are needed:

  • Recognizability
  • Relevance
  • Reach

He believes that an athlete needs to win a gold medal in the Olympics to have any chance at all of reaching all three, but the minute the Olympic games are over they run the risk of losing their distribution platform, which Carlisle believes is the biggest problem for Olympic athletes.

If an athlete wins any medal at all, the relevance has been reached and if they can somehow maintain a platform outside the Olympic Games, recognizability is possible and together they can possibly get reach.

He says that there was no good road map for much of what he does and that preparation is important and goals are key but things never work out exactly the way they are planned.

Carlisle says, “I represent other people; they need to trust me, but the sports agent has not always had the greatest perception in the industry.”


Carlisle has successfully created national partnerships between his clients and corporations including:

  • The largest ever multi-year athlete Olympic endorsement deal
  • The world’s largest swimming endorsement deal
  • The only post-Olympic national TV ad campaign
  • Disney’s Swim with the Stars following the 2004 Athens Olympics
  • The first-ever post-Olympic swimming tour
  • Served as Executive Producer of “Unfiltered”, a groundbreaking documentary film that explores the lives and rivalry of Olympic gold medal swimmers Michael Phelps and Ian Crocker


Carlisle represented four snowboarders who won medals at the 2002 Winter Olympics:

  • Kelly Clark
  • Ross Powers
  • Danny Kass
  • Chris Klug

Other major clients Carlisle represents has some very famous names including:

  • Michael Phelps
  • Aly Raisman
  • Natalie Coughlin
  • Hannah Teter
  • Apolo Anton Ohno
  • Katie Hoff
  • Seth Wescott

Carlisle first pitched a young teenage Michael Phelps at a law firm. Phelps said he wanted to change the sport of swimming and wanted to see swimming on ESPN’s SportsCenter. With Carlisle representing him, Phelps has accomplished a lot more than that during his career.

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