a blockbuster opportunity


Remember Blockbuster Video? It wasn’t too long ago that they were the giant of the movie rental business. At the turn of the century, the company was valued at nearly $5 billion and had almost 9,000 stores open across the country. Blockbuster was flying high, and it seemed nothing could stop it. It was about that same time that a fledgling start-up company contacted the movie rental giant, set up a meeting, and proposed a partnership.

In 2000, Netflix founder Reed Hastings and his team flew to Dallas to meet with Blockbuster CEO John Antioco. Hastings offered to sell Netflix to Blockbuster for $50 million. As partners, the two companies could work together, he suggested, with Netflix running the brand online and Blockbuster running it in stores. Netflix was new and innovative, but Blockbuster was king. Blockbuster executives arrogantly rejected the offer, and according to some, literally laughed Reed Hastings and his Netflix partners right out of the meeting room.

You probably know how that story’s unfolded since then. Netflix used its planning and foresight to create and build a strong, successful business that over time essentially destroyed Blockbuster and other video rental companies. Meanwhile, Blockbuster’s lack of planning and foresight led to its demise. The company went bankrupt in 2010, drowned in revenue losses of more than one billion dollars. Today Netflix, that fledgling start-up that Reed Hastings founded – the one he offered to sell almost twenty years ago – is valued around $60 billion, more than ten times what Blockbuster was ever worth.

Isn’t it amazing how so often history gets written based on whether we’re capable of recognizing the important opportunities in life when we see them? It might be a business opportunity, like the one Blockbuster missed on, or something more personal that any one of us might face, but it’s true across the board: too many times for too many people, missing out and looking back with regret is the only way we see clearly the real opportunities in life.

It’s one of the attributes that really separates successful people in this world from all the rest, in any area of life. Successful people have the foresight to see opportunities clearly in the present moment, to take full advantage of them in the here and now, and to reap the rewards of that vision and big-picture perspective.

If you’re working to raise a champion athlete and man today, then I’d say the same is true for you. The experience your son is having today as an athlete – no matter his age or ability level – is your greatest opportunity to teach, prepare, and equip him for success in life. So the most important question, when it comes to your success in this role, is simple…will you take advantage of that opportunity?

In reality, there’s no other experience he’ll have in life where you’ll be able to define for him so clearly the qualities it takes to be successful, and then work to help him develop those qualities. Develop them, yes, for his success in sports. But more importantly, develop them for his success in life. Soon he’ll be there, in manhood, and if he’s going to reach his potential in any area – as a husband, a father, a friend, or a professional – he’ll need to be equipped. This is the opportunity of your life as a parent to develop him into the hard-working, committed, resilient, passionate, selfless champion of an athlete and man he’s capable of becoming. But only if you have the foresight and big-picture perspective to see it.

Unfortunately, there are too many Blockbuster sports parents out there today. They’re cruising along or trudging forward without recognizing the incredible opportunity – or the important responsibility – they have to prepare their son for success tomorrow. There’s something bigger and better that’s possible in the future, but only if they see those opportunities and take advantage of them. It’s too bad so many don’t.

After all, if this is in fact the greatest opportunity he'll have to get ready, then thisexperience – however it goes, good or bad – will probably have a major influence who he becomes. Odds are, who you’ve encouraged or allowed him to be as an athlete will translate into who he becomes in the important areas of his life as an adult. The lazy athlete can easily become the lazy dad. The uncommitted athlete? Now the uncommitted husband. You developed a lifeless, weak-minded, selfish player. So who have you encouraged or allowed him to become as a man? Lifeless, weak-minded, and selfish, if I had to guess.

If that happens, you might wish someday that you had recognized the incredible opportunity you had back when your son was an athlete. If you’d used those experiences well back then – you might come to realize – it could have changed who he became, on the playing field and beyond.

In the business world, Netflix became what’s known as a disruptor. When a new company is distruptively innovative, it means they’ve determined not only how to succeed in the here and now, but more importantly they’ve anticipated the future and prepared themselves for success moving forward – even if that means changing the traditional way things have always been done. They disrupt the status quo; that’s what Netflix did. Blockbuster blindly and naively made choices with the present moment in mind and never saw the big picture. Soon, that lack of foresight left the company unprepared and bankrupt.

Don't be a Blockbuster sports parent. Even if your son is having success as an athlete today, you’ve got to see clearly your opportunities to prepare him for the bigger, more important moments that are coming in his life. Don’t blindly and naively make choices with the present moment in mind, without also seeing the big picture; if you do, then someday your lack of foresight may leave your son unprepared and bankrupt.

Instead, I hope you’ll become a disruptor of a sports parent. That you’ll determine not only how to help your son succeed in the here and now, but more importantly you’ll anticipate the future and prepare him for success moving forward – even if that means changing, in your own life, the way sports parenting has always been done. If you’re willing – to anticipate, to prepare, to change – you’ll find a new, meaningful purpose for this important role you play in the life of your son. And I think you’ll see the blockbuster of an opportunity that stands before you.