Sports is not only big-time entertainment. It’s also big business — at the stadium, at the newsstand, on TV, and on the Net. Here is Fast Company’s scouting report on five of the Web’s most popular sports destinations. You make the call on which ones score — and which ones you want to visit.
|Player||The Sporting News
|Game Plan||The Sporting News, founded in 1886, is a venerable voice for hard-core fans. But its Web site is decidedly cutting-edge. Last year, the site won the National Magazine Award for general excellence in new media.||In-depth coverage of all the top U.S. and world sports stories from two major-league media operations: CNN and Sports Illustrated. The site also creates special sections around major events.||Far and away the most popular sports site on the Net. It offers breaking-news headlines, real-time stats, and in-depth stories, as well as live chats with players and coaches.||The go-to site for college sports — including basketball, football, soccer, and volleyball.||Coverage of all major professional, college, and international sports — plus exclusive content provided by teams, organizations, and star players, such as Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, and Shaquille O’Neal.|
|Home Run||“The Vault” — a 112-year archive of sports history. The site also features a free email newsletter, which delivers attitude and analysis by the magazine’s pithiest commentators directly to your inbox.||“The CNN/SI Scoreboard” — a Java applet that delivers up-to-the-minute scores and highlights from almost every game being played that day. Added bonus: The site also features every Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue since 1996.||“GameCast” lets users follow their teams in real time — from their desktops. Using a graphical representation of a field or a court, it highlights each player’s movements. This feature also includes statistics, player profiles, and matchup analysis.||An amazing database on college recruiting that offers in-depth profiles of all the top players. The database is searchable by pro-team signings, as well as by state, school, and conference.||“SportsLine Commissioner,” which helps fantasy-league players manage their affairs. The service lets teams create a private Web site for their league and to get their own email address.|
|Strikeout||Token coverage of sports other than professional basket-ball, football, baseball, and hockey, and college football and basketball.||None. Sports news doesn’t get any better than this.||Money. To take advantage of fantasy-league discounts, live audio from ESPN, and several other nifty features, users must pay for an ESPN Insider account. A subscription costs $4.95 per month or $39.95 per year.||Strictly amateur: There is no coverage of professional sports at all.||Be prepared to spend some cash to take advantage of certain features. The site offers two services: one with a monthly fee of $4.95, and another that costs $39.95 per year.|
|Women’s Coverage||Women play sports?||The best out there, thanks in part to the launch of Sports Illustrated for Women.||ESPN coproduces one of the best women’s-sports sites on the Web: WNBA.com.||Great coverage of non-mainstream women’s sports, such as volleyball and field hockey.||You can find decent coverage by clicking on a “Women’s Sports” link.|