Meet friends of friends, create an online community, share photos, journals and interests with a growing network of mutual friends – that was the concept behind myspace.com. In a similar attempt tiredandtested.com (UK based) and sportsmates.com (US based) have recently introduced to the online world social networking sites specifically for sports players and fans. Both sites are aimed at the sports nut, be it a player, fan, club, league or just someone trying to organise an event or social sporting network. For people from any sporting background, any level, any age. Both networks enable users to create user profiles, friend lists, set up email lists, and find other members who share common sporting interests or live in a similar location. tiredandtested.com, developed by Chris Ward (of Friends Reunited), Mike Lee OBE and supported by Terry Venables (England assistant manager), allows the user to create a real social space from a virtual home. “Tired and Tested gives every sports fan, player or club the chance to live a little of the lifestyle of a sports pro,” says Venables. The site offers a lengthy list of features which enables users to: • personalise player profiles, choose their favourite sports and clubs, • create and run their own club, league or event website • add their favourite pro clubs and players • meet like-minded sports fans and players • join sports teams and clubs in their area • organise fixtures, results and tables • keep up-to-date with breaking sports news • write match reports in their online scrapbook, • share photos, blogs and videos • create their own teams kits and add them to their profile. sportsmates.com enables users to start their own club, the club doesn´t even have to be a real existing club, it can be completely virtual and users can invite other users from anywhere and everywhere to join and play in the virtual club. Unique to sportsmates.com is the introduction of a ranking system which enables users to earn points and a corresponding ranking for positive contributions (e.g. on message boards, adding useful links, and having highly ranked contributions by other users). Likewise abuse of the system results in point deductions. This enables a self-policing community wherein members can quickly gauge another member’s credibility and reputation by looking at their ranking. By recruiting friends, users can earn even more points, then when those friends recruit their friends, the initial user gets a kickback as well. However if those friends lose points due to abuse, so too does everyone in the hierachy. Hence encouraging members to only introduce friends that they know will make a positive contribution to the site. Revenue generation for sportsmates.com is initially achieved through advertising, but they quickly hope to implement a model which that combine sponsorship, opportunities for the inclusion of brands, e-commerce, offline and online events and paid services. As the online community continues to embrace and welcome the online social networking space, it opens up the gates for more and more niche communities to come to the party. Like-minded individuals who share similar interests are going to create strong communities that are more likely to stand the test of time. Find a niche that brings people together (check out our previous post on Mesh Tennis), one that evokes true passion amongst its users, and watch the advertising dollars roll in.