Sports scouts are members of the professional and university-level sporting community that help teams and organizations find the best athletes in the world. A typical scout will use his or her time to travel all across the globe in order to find and assess players that fit the needs of the organizations they represent. A scout for the sporting community is an excellent judge of talent and is able to determine if an individual is worthy of either immediate access to a playing field, or of training and growing their talents in practice camps.
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A scout will spend most of their life on the job searching for new talent, watching and documenting either young or already established players in their respective fields, and attempting to sign up players for the organization(s) they represent. While computer software is increasingly helpful in keeping track of a player's statistics, it is still the job of human scouts to assess the skills of players and make judgment calls as to whether or not they are a perfect fit for the team they work for.
Scouts travel on a constant basis to cities and towns, both big and small, and spend numerous hours reviewing footage, statistics and interviewing coaches and teammates. A scout for the sporting industry must not only be an excellent judge of talent in their respective sporting field, but must also be a skilled salesman that can sign up the best talent before other scouts do.
Additionally, a scout must not only be able to look at established players who are already playing on a professional level, but also make judgment calls about young and semi-pro athletes. Scouts need to be able to easily determine if younger, less-experienced athletes have the skill sets necessary to eventually become a top-notch player. This means that scouts need to be not only good judges of current skill, but judges of potential skill as well.
Typically, scouts for sporting teams are either ex-professional athletes or ex-college and professional coaches; though there are many people who had little to no coaching or playing experience and still went on to become great scouts.
The reason why most scouts are either ex players or coaches is because of the amount of time those people have spent in and around the sport they scout for. Coaches and professional athletes spend hundreds of hours throughout their careers watching others play and learning to play themselves. This experience is invaluable in the scouting field, though it is not always needed. The best scouts, no matter their professional background experience, are great salesmen that can hook a player into coming into an organization, and are people that are vastly familiar with the skills and talents needed to excel in a given sporting arena.
Increasingly, due to digital media and software advancements, scouts are asked to be good statisticians as well as good observers. Scouts looking for high school athletes to come to their college or university, for example, may not have access to hundreds of hours of player film - as is common in the professional sporting world. Instead, scouts must be able to look at past statistics, data and training documents to determine if a player will be a viable addition to their organization.
Finally, scouts need to be aware of what their organization is in need of and what their organization will be in need of in the future. The best scouts do not just sign up players for what their team will need next season, but also for the years ahead. Some of the most notable sporting scouts in history were able to determine what the goals and needs of their teams would be down the line, and were able to provide the necessary talent to keep their organizations dominant for long periods of time.
Scouts then must be able to gamble and bet on young and professional players, but they can never risk too much or else the future of their team or college could face painful consequences for years to come. This makes athlete scouting a tough, competitive and stressful environment that is only for those men and women who can cope with the responsibility of choosing the best person for their organization at the best time.
The "office" of a sports scout is the open road. Scouts are tasked with traveling both in and out of their own countries to acquire the best skilled people on earth. A scout can expect to spend hundreds if not thousands of hours on the road and in the air in order to make their represented team the best it can be. Once scouts get to their destination they may have to spend days or even weeks pouring through information, observing individuals practice and play, and talk to coaches and teammates about their skill potential.
When scouts aren't in the field they are in their offices going through data, newspapers and following leads all over the world. Most of a scout's work takes place during the current season of play for the scout's respective field, but even in the off-season scouts are expected to research and keep up with players that could be the next big thing.
Most professional scouts earn anywhere between $33,000-$65,000 a year. College and university scouts may earn competitive, if not equal pay, though many colleges tend to pay near the bottom of the spectrum, if not less. This is largely based on the size of the school, the size of the sporting program the scout represents, and the type of sport it is. In addition to this base income, however, most professional organizations offer bonuses for scouts that bring in the best of the best talent each season. Scouts that can sign up either desirable free-agents or extremely talented amateur athletes are rightfully awarded extra monies for their hard work, research and excellent salesmanship.