Sport on the Internet

According to estimates, less than 16 per cent of the Web has been catalogued in total. If an individual search engine site covers even four per cent of the Web, it's doing better than average. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has tried to find out information about sports online. The general search engines and directories such as Yahoo!, Lycos and Excite often disappoint with too much or too little relevant information.

According to estimates, less than 16 per cent of the Web has been catalogued in total. If an individual search engine site covers even four per cent of the Web, it's doing better than average. This will come as no surprise to anyone who has tried to find out information about sports online. The general search engines and directories such as Yahoo!, Lycos and Excite often disappoint with too much or too little relevant information.

For finding things like fixtures, PA Sports Centre is quicker and surer. It offers a month by month general calendar, with dates and venues. Or a week-ahead service, including a wider range of sports and extra details such as kick-off times.

An alternative has recently been launched at Virgin Net's portal, in its sport channel under the What's On rubric. It offers a directory structure that enables alphabetical browsing of sports and gives their various competition dates and venues. Searching by country, then by sport, is also supported.

If more than event listings is required, Lifestyle UK is a useful resource. Sport categories are listed on the front page and details - alphabetical lists of links to sites with brief descriptions - on subsequent pages. The coverage is good. There are 136 links under water sports covering online magazines, commercial sites selling yachting gear, schools to teach sport skills, unofficial race Webcams, and surf and skateboard lifestyle sites.

There are 81 sites listed under golf, 199 under motorsports, 37 cricket, 203 football, 38 rugby and 31 winter sports. Away from the UK, further links can be found by clicking on the provided tabs for the United States, Europe or the rest of the world.

The World Sports Calendar, subtitled "The Traveller's Guide to Great Sporting Events", lists major events - defined as those that are worth making a trip to watch - such as the Tour de France and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, interspersed with lesser known ones such as the Backgammon World Cup and US Open and the International Acapulco Cliff Diving Competition. It provides dates for events and contact details via telephone and/or the Web.

For American sports, there are many dedicated search engines. Most of them have front pages that mix news feeds with directories of major US sports and a box for typing in search terms. They will usually endeavour to offer value by offering other links. SportSearch.com has links to more than 60 local American newspaper sports pages, live sport score services and fantasy game sites. Sport Hits adds sports and college newspapers to its list of major newspapers, it also has extensive pull-down menus of sport categories, schedules for different sports, and courses for horse-racing results. As well as a search engine covering its database it also has links to a sports encyclopaedia. If this induces trans-Atlantic feature envy, take some solace in the fact that the encyclopaedia refused to answer any questions asked of it when I tried it out last week.

Site Addresses

PA Sports Centrehttp://www.pa.press.net/sport

Virgin Net - Sport - What's Onhttp://www.virgin.net/sport/whatson/

Lifestyle UKhttp://www.lifestyle.co.uk/

The World Sports Calendar http://www.digitaldiscounts.com/sports.html

SportSearch.comhttp://www.sportsearch.com/

Sport Hitshttp://www.sporthits.com/main.shtml

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