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Scouts are trained talent evaluators who travel extensively for the purposes of watching athletes play their chosen sports and determining whether their set of skills and talents represent what is needed by the scout's organization. Some scouts are interested primarily in the selection of prospects, younger players who may require further development by the acquiring team but who are judged to be worthy of that effort and expense for the potential future payoff that it could bring, while others concentrate on players who are already polished professionals whose rights may be available soon, either through free agency or trading, and who are seen as filling a team's specific need at a certain position. Advance scouts watch the teams that their teams are going to play in order to help determine strategy.

Many scouts are former coaches or retired players, while others have made a career just of being scouts. Skilled scouts who help to determine which players will fit in well with an organization can be the major difference between success and failure for the team with regard to wins and losses, which often relates directly to the organization's financial success or lack thereof as well.

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