The Wooly Wilds of the Sports Web

The range of sporting information on the web is truly embarrassing. ESPN’s site alone could paralyze all but the most sports crazed. In addition to the basic stats and scores that fuel sports junkies, the web oozes sports from all sides.

Front and center is the bottomless pool of commentary and opinion on all matters sports related. (Who knew the wave needed defending? ) Next come the lists. These cover everything from bad hair to the biggest flameouts in the National League this season. Finally, the arcane arrives. Take a visit to the mound by a baseball manager. Simple matter of communication? Not so fast, it’s art.

The big sites (See Resources) like Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and CBS Sports provide all the information needed to follow a team or sport, save the willfully obscure. Any curious sports fan going off these well-trammeled sites can quickly find themselves in a thicket of bloated fan prose. Best to consult a guide like Deadspin that provides links to everything from a downloadable screensaver of Detroit Piston’s power forward Rasheed Wallace as Jimi Hendrix (Piston Haze) to an important article that was easy to miss such as The Charlotte Observer’s exclusive on the Carolina Panther’s steroid problem.

Regular visits to Deadspin reveal the weird bounty sports have to offer. How else can one find out that the Newark Bears hosted a Britney Spear’s Baby Safety Night? Fans of the AAA baseball club were offered free parenting advice and a shot at a free baby car seat a few weeks after the pop star made headlines for not strapping in little baby Sean. The headier Southwest Michigan Devil Rays offered free college courses.

Not to be outdone by upstarts and whippersnappers, many media giants lard their sites with bells and whistles. The BBC is a favorite. In their tennis game, visitors can choose to play a match as Shakespeare, Queen Victoria, or John Lennon. Cricket fans can download masks of their favorite bowlers and batsmen. A weekly photo round-up tests your dedication to spectating.

Being that it is the British Broadcasting Company, the quiz proves challenging for those of us who can’t, say, instantly recite the accomplishments of Stirling Mortlock, an Australian rugby star playing for the Brumbies of the Super 14. (Deep soccer gossip is also rounded up every Wednesday.) It’s that very British-ness, though, that is charming. Where else could one find a heptathlon video game and two different cricket games? Sticky Wicket, the least crickety of the two games, reinterprets Donkey Kong as some sort of fire and brimstone test match.

Even sites not traditionally known for their sporting coverage weigh in on matters of sporting import. Like when the literary journal McSweeney’s considered what it would be like to play various board games with Barry Bonds.

If you feel like there are too many sports out there, too bad. New ones keep coming. Think wok racing, chess boxing, and golfcross.

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