The Arena Football League, which kicks off on April 13, has 19
franchises, a minor league that will field 29 teams and a
championship game that has been carried live on ABC the last
three years, but you'd hardly know it by reading most of the
nation's print publications, including SI, or by looking at TV
sports news. Regular-season games merit no more than a short
story in papers or a brief clip on the 11 o'clock television news
in the teams' home cities. Forget about substantial coverage in
USA Today or on any of the national sports highlight shows. This
media indifference led to the creation of arenafan.com, a website
that provides the only in-depth national coverage of the
high-scoring league that annually draws more than a million fans
and strongly encourages all players to stay for a half hour after
games to sign autographs.
Kevin Sheller, a video game producer, teamed with stats guru Dave
Carlson, a computer programmer, to launch Arena Fan in 1998.
Their site provides blanket coverage of the sport, using
volunteer writers and photographers, and offers links to
pertinent newspaper stories around the country.
Despite the lack of old-media coverage, Sheller thinks the NFL's
purchase two years ago of an option to buy half the league will
lead to more national interest. "The quality of the product on
the field is the reason the league has hung around for so long,"
says Sheller. "People are blown away the first time they see a