I write this blog for people who want to work in the football business. One reason I do this is because working in football was a life goal for me and I’ve been blessed to be able to do it. However, I wanted to take today to talk about a mistake a lot of people make in this business, and that mistake is, forgetting it’s a business.

I was talking to a friend in Houston this weekend who was discussing an employee who regularly works in various football-related promotions. It turns out that none of these promotions are profitable to the company or to the employee. So why do they continue, when they aren’t profitable? Well, two reasons. The company’s owner is too big-hearted and fond of the employee to pull the plug on these promotions (and the time wasted on organizing them). The other reason is that the employee gets a real buzz out of plastering photos of these promotions all over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

This is not uncommon. I’ve worked on some fairly involved projects that had no clear mission except to gets its participants involved in the football business. I’ve seen people get involved in the business for altruistic reasons — some of them admitted they really had little interest in the football biz — and in the space of 6-8 months they’re throwing thousands of dollars at shady characters while chasing the excitement and glory of representing NFL players. I’ve had new clients come to me the weeks after the draft claiming they’ve spent more than $20,000 training a player who not only didn’t get drafted but who didn’t even sign as an undrafted free agent. I’ve seen people pour a half-million dollars into all-star games — sometimes letting bills go unpaid for and telling lies to win approval of key parties — with no hope of recouping the investment. All of these people spent their money chasing the thrill of being even a small part of professional athletics. They lost sight of the fact that this is a game for grownups, and that lives can be ruined this way. The dollars just have to add up, but often they don’t.

So how do you keep from being pulled into the same deep hole? You’ve got to apply old-fashioned, traditional, maybe even boring principles to your pursuit of a place in the biz. Come up with a budget, not just for money, but time. You have to decide on a reasonable amount of money you are willing to spend and a reasonable amount of time you are willing to spend chasing your dream. Because this business can be so addictive, most of those who fail leave feet first. There’s absolutely no shame in walking out of this business if it’s not happening for you.

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