MLF Manager of Competition Crew Recruiting and Training Aaron Beshears working with MLF Officials prior to Stage One in Kissimee, Florida. Photo by Garrick Dixon
By Mason Prince - March 21, 2019
TULSA, Okla. – Major League Fishing has received many questions about how to become an MLF official and the process that involves. Aaron Beshears, MLF’s Manager of Competition Crew Recruiting and Training, receives the bulk of these questions, and answered a few of the most frequently asked.
Q: Other professional fishing organizations charge for the opportunity to ride with the pros. How much does it cost to be an MLF official?
A: “There is no monetary cost for individuals to become MLF officials. MLF covers all expenses including meals, lodging, gas, uniforms, etc.”
Q: Unlike the MLF Cup events and World Championship, the Bass Pro Tour announces site locations in advance. How could an individual become an MLF official for a lake near their hometown?
A: “Unfortunately, the MLF format doesn’t allow us to utilize individuals for a single event. We utilize the same trained and certified officials to travel with the Bass Pro Tour, similar to other professional sports leagues. Our officials are responsible for making calls which could potentially lead to the angler losing a tremendous amount of money or valuable points. It’s imperative that our officials stay consistent in ‘calling the game.’ In order to do so, we require them to officiate multiple events per year.”
Q: Since the inaugural Stage One event in Kissimmee, Florida, our website has been blowing up with individuals all over the country wanting to be a seasonal MLF official. How close to our headquarters in Tulsa, Oklahoma must an individual reside?
A: “It’s best if the individual resides within three hours of Tulsa. Our departures and arrivals – as well as other logistical plans – are made from the address of our headquarters. We also conduct all of our required training and other obligations in Tulsa.”
Q: Speaking of qualifications, what exactly qualifies an individual to become a MLF official?
A: “We look at several things. To start, a minimum commitment of four events per year. That doesn’t sound like a lot, however, when you factor in the locations and travel times, we could be gone as many as 14 days per event. Four events could be as many as 56 days total. Not a lot of individuals have that much vacation time.
“We also look at individual personalities. Most of our officials posses a strong personality. The officials have to understand that they are there to ‘do a job.’ Although we are all fans of the MLF anglers and the sport, we are NOT there to be fans. We also require individuals to be very fair and non-bias. We don’t care if they are officiating Kevin VanDam or ‘John Doe.’ MLF officials MUST treat all anglers the same.
“Having a basic understanding of WiFi, iPads and smart phones is also very important.
“It’s critical that officials have the physical and mental ability to withstand the entire week. The weather plays a very big part of how rigorous and trying the particular body of water may be. Being in front of a live camera making ‘on the spot’ calls, all the while fans all over the country are making the same calls from the comfort of the indoors.
Just like all professional sports, Major League Fishing has its share of ‘armchair quarterbacking.’ That can be mentally exhausting by the end of the week. The MLF anglers for the most part are very laid back when not in competition. When in competition, it’s a completely different story. Intense to say the least! At times, officiating an MLF event can be very mentally taxing.”
Q: Is being a full-time MLF official an option for an individual looking for a career opportunity?
A: “That would be a wonderful goal in our future, but presently there are no career opportunities at being an MLF official. The large majority of our officials are presently retired or business owners that allow the freedom for time off. There are a handful of officials who hold down full-time jobs but have a tremendous amount of vacation time.”
Q: How does one apply to become an MLF official?
“Our 2019 season is full, however, we will be taking applications for the upcoming 2020 season. Our current MLF officials will get precedence over new applicants, but we will definitely have room to add more officials to the 2020 pool.
“For those who do meet the criteria, please email me at [email protected]. Just provide a little basic information about yourself and how many events you could possibly officiate. I plan to conduct interviews in the offseason and conduct another three-day, officials-certification academy prior to kicking off the 2020 season.”