Social networks for the jock in your life

Even sports fans require social networks built specifically for them. That's why we're taking a look at some social networks that will connect sports fans.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
4 min read

Facebook and MySpace get most of the mainstream attention, but social networks focused on various niches can help you connect with people more effectively. One of those niches is sports.

Although sports-centric social networks aren't nearly as popular as general social networks, their uniqueness garners a loyal, passionate following. If you're a sports fan, joining at least one of these social networks can be rewarding.

Sports social networks

ArmchairGM ArmchairGM gives you the opportunity to support your favorite sports teams and talk about them with others on the site. Using collaborative wiki technology, it lets you write articles about topics that interest you, comment on others' articles, and go to the "Locker Room" to discuss sports topics with other fans.

Unfortunately, ArmchairGM's design isn't very compelling, and its community is smaller than that of some of its competitors. But it's still a good way to connect with rabid sports fans.

ArmchairGM lets you blog about your passion. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

FanNation FanNation is a community for sports lovers to get up-to-date information on their favorite teams and players while discussing their love of sports with others. And for the most part, it delivers.

After you finish registering with FanNation, you can start joining groups on the site. Those groups range from communities specific to a particular team to general sport topics. For the most part, those communities are quite active.

FanNation lets you write up blog posts on topics that interest you. You can also comment on other users' blog posts. FanNation is designed well, and the information provided by other users is interesting. But having the ability to communicate more effectively with other FanNation users would be nice. Right now, comments on blog posts are about all that one can do, to that end.

FanNation lets you do all kinds of stuff on the site. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Golf Finder Golf Finder is a simple service that provides some real value. The site allows you to sign up, adding where you live and when you'd like to play golf, and then it matches you up with some of the best golf courses in your area. You can also input your handicap and age, so you can find the right course to match your skill level. It's a great way to discover new courses and at the same time find others on the site with whom to play.

Golf Finder
Golf Finder helps you find the best courses for your skill level. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

GolfLink Similar to Golf Finder, GolfLink.com provides you with valuable information about finding golf courses in your area. But the site goes beyond that. It provides tips to improve your swing and reviews of golf equipment.

GolfLink has a community of golfers that is quite large and engaged. In fact, you'll be able to discuss golf with those folks in a forum, read their blogs, or see their profile to become friends. GolfLink is a much larger site than Golf Finder, so it might be the better golf social network between the two.

GolfLink lets you create your own blog to express your sports opinions. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

ILovetoPlay ILovetoPlay.com is a really neat service. After you input where you live and what sports you love to play, it connects you with other people in your area who want to play the same games. So if you really want to play basketball today, you can send out a request to other users to see if they want to meet up at a local court. You can also view other players' requests to meet up with them. ILovetoPlay is designed well and makes it easy to find teammates.

ILoveto Play
ILovetoPlay helps you find people with whom to play. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

SportsMates SportsMates is one of the most sophisticated sports social networks in this roundup. The site asks you a slew of questions to help you populate your profile, including who your favorite players are, special experiences you had playing sports, and more. That creates a site with the best profiles of any in the sports social-networking space.

SportsMates also makes it easy to communicate with others via direct messages or on forums. You can even read blogs written by other users or suggest some yourself. One of SportsMates' best features is its Events tab, which enables you to post events for others to attend. It's a great way to get a pickup game going. But like many of the other services in this roundup, SportsMates has few users. Naturally, that limits the engagement potential of the site.

SportsMates helps you create events. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

Takkle Takkle.com is designed specifically for high-school athletes who want to be discovered by college recruiters or major sports scouts.

After you sign up for Takkle, it asks you to input your high school, the sports you played, and your stats in those sports. When you complete your profile, it becomes public, so college recruiters and scouts can see if they want to recruit you.

The site lets you communicate with friends through direct messages. You can also leave comments on their wall when they update their status or stats. I'm not sure how effective Takkle really is at getting high-school students recruited by colleges, but it's worth trying out to see if you get lucky.

Takkle puts you in front of recruiters and scouts. Screenshot by Don Reisinger/CNET

My Top 3

1. FanNation: It's big and engaging. It's worth joining first.

2. SportsMates: There's something to be said for really great profiles.

3. GolfLink: Find tips, friends, and great courses with GolfLink.