It's usually easy to figure out what company sets the industry standard by how prospective competitors sell themselves to the public. For instance, a new site to be launched this week called SportsFanLive.com is supposed to be the "Facebook of Sports Fans."
It's so much like Facebook that something just like it had to be created exclusively for sports fans; but it's also incredibly different as to attract users away from Facebook. A precarious balance, to say the least. It's not just that sports fans have different needs than the average social networker, sports fans are all about customization and aggregation (what is it about aggregation recently, anyway!). Users of the site will be able to easily route articles to like-minded friends on the site via a FanFeed feature, send alerts to buddies or to the sports bars they are congregating in to cheer on their teams with the FanFinder application, which enables a ZIP code and map-based function.
Finding that other social networking sites, while great at networking, aren't "relevant to your sports interests," the site aims at "isolating that subset of sports friends and giving you instant communication with them." A separate universe for sports fanatics that allows them to challenge each other using fake money, and engage in other (un)sportsmanlike behavior, is poised to create an experience for new users that its creator likens to "the early adoption of DVR’s".
It could be that sports fans have been clamoring for a networking site all their own -- one where they are able to weed out the riffraff and focus solely on sports news, results and competitions, and mingle among the fellow sports nuts. Yet, it's hard to tell if there is a market that will follow away from the baseball and football widgets and web applications widely popular on Facebook.
To be fair, the site is interactive and supplies endless amounts of features which could easily suck any user into spending hours setting up their sports pages and wagering bets with other fans. It is limited to the popular sports, be it major league and college baseball, American football, basketball, as well as NASCAR. No elite sports to be found, except when it comes to their Olympics coverage.
Who knows -- maybe one day we'll refer to Facebook as the "SportsFanLive of social networking".