What NFL Officials Can Teach Scouters



That headline may sound like click-bait, but those of us who wear tan and khaki can learn something important this year from the people who wear black and white.

If you’re a fan of professional football, you know that one of the big stories this season has been a string of bad and missed calls from officials (which is admittedly better than a string of domestic-violence arrests). As ESPN reported recently, “The past seven days have brought more grist for the NFL officiating debate than any similar time period in recent memory. Three high-profile mistakes on Monday Night Football, all of which the league eventually acknowledged, sparked a barrage of controversy that continued through the fourth quarter of Sunday Night Football.”

More than the anecdotes in the ESPN story, what I found fascinating was the accompanying chart showing the tenure of NFL officials. Of the league’s 121 officials, 23 are in their first or second year, while 96 have been in the league for six years are longer. The total numbers of third-, fourth-, and fifth-year refs? Exactly two. In other words, the officiating corps is a mix of newcomers still learning the job and relative old-timers who may be starting to have trouble keeping up with the speed of the game. (Ten refs have been in the league for 21 to 27 years–as long as most NFL players have been alive!)

So what’s the Scouting connection? We need a constant influx of new Scouts, just like the NFL needs a constant influx of new players and officials. While it may not seem like a big deal to fail to bring in new members one year, your troop will actually suffer for years to come if you fail to recruit. At first, you’ll miss the infusion of new energy and new Scouts for your older Scouts to lead and teach. Later on, you won’t have a corps of older Scouts to lead the troop. And all along the way, you’ll be short of parents to help run fundraisers, drive to outings, and serve as adult leaders.

So in between football games and holiday preparations this year, I hope you’ll take some time to plan for your next recruiting effort, whether that’s reaching out to Webelos dens in your area or planning a troop open house or discovery campout. What you do this winter will affect your troop for years to come.


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