Many a professional athlete owes his/her career to a person who seldom gets any credit once these athletes achieve success, fame and money. This is the talent scout - a person who spots the talent and potential of an athlete for the very first time; if you’ve seen the movie “The Scout”, you will know what we’re talking about! However, with time and the increasing commercialization of sport, being a talent scout is no longer a thankless job. Read on for tips on how to become a professional athletic scout and do well at it!
Professional athletic scouts are hired by professional teams, colleges or universities to recruit talented athletes, before they are snapped up by rival organizations. As a talent scout, you can either be on the payroll for athletic programs/teams or you can work freelance and refer your ‘discoveries’ to the highest bidder.
The job mainly involves following the amateur and school sport circuits to find athletes with the talent and potential to succeed in the professional sporting arena. You can do this by building a network of coaches, current and former school players, following the local sports news and by attending high school and amateur league games.
Once a talented athlete is identified, the professional athletic scout gets in touch with the former’s coaches, parents and the athlete himself, to sound them off on lucrative career and education options which will be forthcoming, provided the athlete signs-up with the organization/institution the scout is representing. In the college sport circuit, the scout’s role may be handled by one of the coaching staff, which means that they will also take on the role of mentor to the student-athlete once they sign up.
No formal educational requirements are prescribed for the role of a professional athletic scout; in many cases the scouts may not even have completed high school. They are usually former athletes or coaches themselves and have built up their scouting experience, primarily with their own professional work experience.
However, in today’s world a talent scout’s role need not be limited to resourcing athletic talent alone. As a professional athletic scout, you can take up professional sports management or become a sports agent managing careers of multiple athletes. Towards this end, a degree or diploma in sports management where the curriculum should include business and contract law, financial management and handling public relations. This is a job which is usually performed under media glare, so a certain amount of savvy and charisma, in addition to people management and communication skills is quite important.
Additionally, professional athletic scouts must be highly knowledgeable about the sport in which they specialize, be up-to-date on the latest developments and advances in the game, sports medicine and technological aids used to implement the rules and regulations of the game.
One important point to remember is that you will not find a job as a professional athletic scout through advertisements or job portals. This is very much a role for people who are already in the system and the availability of a job depends on the experience and network you’ve cultivated.