The Role of Pro Sports Teams in Youth Development - Work in Sports Podcast e21

By Brian Clapp | November 22, 2017

Detroit Lions Director of Football Education Chris Fritzsching Joins the Podcast

Hi everybody -- I’m Brian Clapp Director of Content for and this is the Work in Sports Podcast…

We are one day away from Thanksgiving, which I’ll admit kind of snuck up on me this year, but I’m not going to do some “things I’m thankful for” intro because that seems a little cliché to me and relations youth football camps

Nope. Not going to do it.

I got an email the other day from a fan of the podcast, which as you know, I love… but what struck me was the quote they had emblazoned as part of their signature. Usually these quotes are extremely cheesy… something about aiming for the stars and ending up on the moon, or jumping and your lily pad will appear.

These don’t inspire, they kind of make me gag… but again, I’m a heartless jerk.

Anyway, those one stood out—“Those who keep learning, will keep rising in life”

Not bad right? Simple to the point not too existential. Keep learning and good stuff happens.

Which brings us to this weeks sports industry expert interview with Chris Fritzsching, Director of Football Education for the Detroit Lions.

One of Chris’ former interns, Alex Kramer from Drake University emailed me and said – "I think my old boss would be great for your podcast." Alex told me a little about Chris and his title and I thought – that sounds awesome, but what the heck does a Director of Football Education do? I have zero experience with this and no idea what questions to ask.

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So, I go into research mode… and start learning. This gets me excited like my brain is travelling in all new dimensions, or for all you Stranger Things fans… the upside down, but without the potential for death.

I get energized by learning something new about the sports industry, and I get excited thinking about introducing all of you to your potential future.

This interview is high energy, fun and informative…you’re going to learn about a side of the sports industry you may have had no idea about before. So with that, here is Chris Fritzsching, Director of Football Education for the Detroit Lions.

Questions for Detroit Lions Director of Football Education, Chris Fritzsching

Chris Fritzsching, Detroit Lions Director of Football Education

1: Let’s get things started with an easy one – being the Director of Football Education for an NFL team sounds awesome – but what does it mean? Can you explain your day to day responsibilities and role within the Lions organization?

1a: how big is your department?

2: So it sounds like there are two major parts to your job – you are a teacher/coach…but you also have to be on the event marketing side as well – I would imagine understanding how to marketing and manage and event is instrumental in a successful youth camp, right?

3: I’ve been in the industry for a long time and I’ll be honest, I didn’t realize just how much effort the pro teams make to integrate and teach the youth – you’ve been with the Lions since 2004, how different is this football education program now versus when you started?

4: What is the biggest challenge you face in putting on a great event you can be proud of?

5: What does success look like to you? What makes you sit back and feel accomplished, and better yet, what makes your boss say – heck of a job Chris!

6: What part of the job do you get the most fulfillment out of?

7: I have a friend who is a local high school football coach and he told me he’s concerned because youth involvement in football is declining and he attributes it to parental concerns about safety – have you noticed the same thing…and furthermore, do you view it as your big opportunity or even public service  to get out there and teach kids the right way, the right technique, to play football?

8: You started out in minor league sports – you worked in sales, you worked in promotions – how did you eventually find your lane and head in the direction you are currently in?


9: Going back for a sec – in your early stages when you were in sales and promotions, did you learn certain skills that you can still apply to what you are doing today?

Lightning Round 

1: You are a busy guy - in addition to your work with the Lions, you are also a Master Trainer for USA Football and the color commentator for Lake Orion High School Football – so as an expert in the broadcasting field…who is the best color commentator in the NFL?

2: You also have been the scoreboard operator for the Detroit Pistons since 1997 – you seem to really like sports Chris – anyway, who is the NBA team you get excited to see come to town?

3: Let’s imagine a world where a Lion was hanging out ruling the jungle and a Bear came along and challenged him to a fight…who would win? What about a Viking or a Packer… Lion still win?

4:  You’ve been with the Lions running Youth Camps for over a decade… any of your campers go on to collegiate or pro success?

5: Finally – let’s say I’m coming to Detroit for a game… but I come in a day early… what are three things I must do in Detroit?

Finishing up with Chris Fritzsching, Detroit Lions Director of Football Education

My favorite part, as you could probably tell, was the part where Chris admitted he came to the lions and he pitched the idea of his position. Now he didn’t just walk in with no experience and no plan… nope he had all of those things and more. He presented an opportunity that made sense to the team and was well thought out… and it worked.

Sometimes if you can’t find yoru way, you yhave to make it. Oooh I like that, maybe I should put that at the bottom of my email signature… it’s better than Keep Calm and Insert product line here…or if life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

I think we’re on to something here. T-Shirts and mugs here we come.

I’m kidding of course.

Thanks to Chris for this great interview, and as you probably guessed, I’m taking Friday off so there will be no Friday edition of the podcast. Stay tuned for a QA session on Monday though we’ll get right back after it!

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

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