OU student creates quickly-growing sports website

By Sarah Wojcik

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Detroit Lions fans now have a new outlet to provide them a chance to read and talk about the team: Oakland University student Sam Arker’s sports website.

Arker, a business management major with a minor in marketing, decided to actively use his academic background to “benefit Lions fans” by creating Forward Down the Field: A Detroit Lions Community.

Arker said he has always been interested in web development and thinks the Lions fan base will increase.

“I’m always looking for a business opportunity and it just so happened that the budget fits the bill,” Arker said.

Though he realizes there are other sites fans can go to get information about the Lions, Arker wanted to service them by creating a site to serve as a central point for team news and decrease the amount of web searching.

His goal is to provide the most-up-to-date Lions news on a daily basis. The site also includes rumors, predictions, video highlights and forums for fans to discuss their opinions.

DetroitLions.com, in contrast, only provides roster changes and news coverage, but no opinions, according to Arker.

Fans have the opportunity to win prizes from contests and activity on the site.

“People can win jerseys, shirts, hats and other Lions apparel,” Arker said.

Arker said that maintaining his site is a “good challenge.”

“It’s a big challenge in terms of trying to keep content updated,” he said, “but it’s something I love to do.”

Arker’s site receives over 5,000 unique visits per day. With the amount of visitors Arker receives, he is always looking for feedback in order to improve the site.

“I receive feedback daily, good and bad,” he said.  Most of the feedback has been about the articles that are preferred and features that fans would like to see on the site.

Though the upcoming NFL season may be in jeopardy due to the current labor dispute, Arker is creating charities to benefit  the military, which will be implemented for the 2011 season.

The players, who keep in contact with Arker through Twitter, have agreed to pay the money to the charities.

Money will be paid to the charities based on player performance. One of Arker’s ideas is to donate $200 for every sack  recorded by Ndamukong Suh.

Arker receives help maintaining his site, particularly relating to its design.

“I have programmers that program codes into the site which reflect the design and overall look,” he said.

Due to his programmers and RSS feeds used to automatically update content, he is able to focus on other site-related things.

His major day-to-day focus is “marketing and site development for the future.”

Currently, Arker is looking for anyone who is interested in providing columns and videos with their opinions and memories about the Lions.

When Arker talks about the Lions, he talks with great passion for the team and wants to give other members of the “Detroit Lions Fan Community” a chance to do the same.

Arker’s website is www.forwarddownthefield.com