Social networking sites are now going niche. A new site out of Dallas, dubbed FanSpot, touts itself as "your Virtual Sports Bar."
There are blog networks devoted to sports, like SportsBlogs. Like those sites, FanSpot users can create blogs and share photos and collectibles. But they are also encouraged to take their heated rivalries and loyalties for their favorite teams online. Users are urged to boast about their teams and make public challenges to fans of rival teams--in other words to talk trash.
"Sports fans are an opinionated, passionate bunch, to be sure. Fanspot.com is here to throw gas on the fire that burns in the heart of every true sports fan," the site says.
Whether the challenges amount to anything more than vapid insults on message boards is not known because registration is required to see many of the features. Based on a cursory survey of the pages by someone who prefers "National Geographic" to "Sports Illustrated," the Web site is a bit like a typical beer commercial--predictable and tasteless but harmless.
FanSpot has no obvious catering to the most popular sport in the rest of the world--soccer, or to women's sports, or sports like tennis that don't evoke images of stinky locker rooms.
There are forums and semi-entertaining topic subheads, including "College Football--the rivalries, the passion, the cheerleaders," "MLB--Deep, philosophical discussions of the Great Game," "NHL--You don't need teeth to type" and "NASCAR--proving once and for all that rednecks ARE computer literate."
Dominating the top-rated photos are, not surprisingly, women in bathing suits. Community groups have names like "The Steel Curtain--Steelers fans unite", "Mark Teixeira Rocks " and "Red Sox Suck." Other titles require a glossary. For instance, what are "Hokie Hokie Ha" and "Habs All the Way?"