Last Wednesday, we featured Dan Hatman, who founded The Scouting Academy to help teach the fundamentals of evaluation to people whose one desire is to become NFL scouts. Though our interview focused on the exciting program the Academy will host at this year’s Senior Bowl, there are always things that don’t make it into a post. Often, those are some of the most interesting things an interviewee has to say.
With that in mind, I thought I’d focus on some of the insights Dan had on the scouting profession and the direction of the business for those folks who are looking for an edge. I’ll also add comments on Dan’s thoughts.
Dan: “I left the Eagles in Spring of 2013, a couple months into (head coach) Chip (Kelly)’s tenure, when I had an idea for Dynamic Sports Solutions. We were building software to value players, to take what the scouts do and run it through algorithms behind the scenes to evaluate the player.”
Analysis: Even though Dan had a job in the NFL, he was thinking of ways to address weaknesses in the business and identifying markets. The tendency of a lot of people, once they reach the NFL, is to say, ‘well, I made it.’ That’s foolish, for a couple reasons. One, you’ll never advance if you are satisfied with where you are. Two, when you’re in the NFL, you better always be preparing for when you’re not in the NFL. It’s a volatile business.
Dan: “While guys were writing code (for Dynamic Sports Solutions) . . . I put up a post on Work in Sports, and said I’d be willing to help people that want to learn scouting, and I got 100 applications. That’s when the light bulb went off that people might pay for this.”
Analysis: I know I hammer on this point here at Succeed in Football, but if you ever want to get paid to work in sports, you’re going to have to start out working for free for a time. There are simply too many talented people with a strong desire to work in football to comb through, so you have to pay your dues (maybe several times) by providing your work for free. That may be in college, may be early in your post-college career, or may be much later in life. It’s the price of getting a chance.
Dan: “Scouting used to be former coaches who weren’t good at the X’s and O’s, or were of a certain age, and they’d be turned into scouts. But in the last 10 years, they’re hiring nothing but people under 25 who don’t have families, and they’re willing to work for $17,000 and no benefits. I made $17,000 with no benefits for a year. That’s intern pay. I made $18,000 for the Eagles. Once you’re full-time, you break the $40,000-$50,000 barrier, which is first-year scout pay. Once you have more than five years, you’re around $75,000, and directors are making six figures.”
Analysis: This is truth, and good info about the salary expectations if you’re looking to get into scouting. You have to work a long while to get into real money.