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Regular readers will know that I am a football fan, but it is not just football that I tend to follow. I like to keep a general interest in most sports, although it does tend to be football that I pay most attention to. Since I started working I have tended to spend some time at the start and end of the day checking on that latest sporting results and news, and BBC Sport has always been my first port of call.
** Background **
BBC Sport is the sport arm of the BBC Interactive service. The BBC website has several different sections covering many areas of interest including general news, radio, sport as well as local services such as weather, what’s on and travel news. The BBC is funded by the television license fee and so is free from advertising. Being funded by the people it is required to provide entertainment and information for everyone, as well as reporting on news and events in a politically neutral way.
The BBC website is part of the service paid for by your licence fee. According to the BBC around 31p a month of your licence fee goes towards the development and maintenance of the website.
** General Site Layout **
The page can be broken down into three main sections. Firstly there is a title bar across the top of the page that offers quick links to some of the other services offered by the BBC online, including TV, Radio, Where I Live and the homepage. Secondly, there is a navigation bar on the left side of the page offering quick links to the main sections of the site. Finally there is the rest of the page, which is used to display the news stories. When not in a specific news article this section is used to display the stories available in the current category.
** Navigation **
Most of the navigation around the site is done using the bar on the left side of the page. This bar is generated based on the page you are currently viewing and generally shows you the options available to get more specialised information. Each level down you move the more specialised the news/articles become and also the more specialised the options on the navigation bar become. This makes it very easy to get more specialised articles or find greater detail on a specific topic but slightly more difficult to move between different areas as you have to return to the homepage each time.
** Areas Covered **
BBC Sport attempts to cover all sporting news and provide a “one stop shop” for all your sport news needs. In reality the term “Sport” is quite diverse and covers a wide range of activities making it very difficult to cover everything. The main areas of general interest are well covered but it is the less popular sports that can seem somewhat neglected. Major sports such as Football, Rugby Union and Cricket are well covered on the site and updated frequently.
Additional in-depth areas may be available on the site depending on the time of year and if any competitions are currently taking place. Generally when a major sporting event is taking place (like The Olympics, World Cup, Ryder Cup or Six Nations) there will be a specialist section of the site available for news on this event. This section of the site will be well updated and contain more information about the sport and the event than you normally expect to see on the site.
The full list of sports currently covered in detail by the site is: Football, Cricket, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Tennis, Golf, Motor sport, Boxing, Athletics, Snooker, Horse Racing, Cycling and Disabled Sport.
** The Homepage **
Arriving at the site’s homepage you are greeted with a variety of sporting headlines for a variety of sports. The top three stories are displayed at in the top half of the page and provide quick links to these main stories. Below these main headlines are a series of quick links to the main stories from each sporting area. The breaking news headlines are shown across the top of the page, although often it is only the headline that is available for these stories.
** Article Format **
Each article on the site tends to follow a similar pattern and format. Most stories are accompanied by a relevant picture and include interviews with relevant people. The most significant quotes from the interview are highlighted and displayed in a different coloured box at the side of the article. Quotes from BBC forums are also included in some cases. Most articles are also accompanied by links to related stories, articles and external websites containing more information.
** Other Features **
In addition to news articles and stories the site provides a lot of sport related features. These features include games, forums and expert opinions and columns. The games available on the site are normally seasonal but have included rugby kicking games and football skills games. There is also an annual fantasy football competition on the site that is free to enter and offers most of the functionality of the premium fantasy football sites. There is a discussion forum where you can voice opinions on recent or upcoming sporting events.
In addition to reporting the news the site also offers expert opinions from celebrities. These opinions cover a variety of topics and include predictions for up-coming events as well as reaction to recent news and results.
** My Opinion **
As I mentioned at the start of this review I use this site on a daily basis to keep up to date with general sporting news. I have a broad interest in a wide range of sports and this site allows me to quickly and easily keep up to date with the major developments in all sports.
I find the site to be very well structured, allowing easy access to all the main areas of the site. The navigation may not be the easiest to use at first as it restricts your options but once you have used it a couple of times it becomes obvious how the navigation works. This method of displaying the available links helps to keep the navigation bar relatively simple and un-cluttered allowing rapid and easy access to sections of the site.
The headlines are well presented in an easy to read manner with the top stories being displayed with a brief description too. In each section of the site, the main stories are displayed at the top of the page and then the stories from the sub sections are shown below. All the headings act as quick links to the various sections of the site allowing easy access to stories and articles.
As a general sports fan I like the fact that I can get the general sporting news headlines on the homepage without having to visit each individual section of the site and without having to scroll down the page. The different sporting areas are well separated allowing easy reference to the main headlines from each section. Once in a section it is easy to navigate to more specialised areas for more detailed news on a club or competition.
The articles tend to be short and to the point. While long enough to get the point across and provide some clips from interviews, the articles avoid being too long-winded and waffley. The language used in the articles is not particularly specialised making the articles accessible to all.
In addition to the news articles I particularly like the special features on the site. The expert opinions and seasonal games provide something extra to the site that would be missing from a simple news site. I regularly take part in the fantasy football competition on the site and enjoy the other simple games available.
In the interests of making this a balanced review I feel that I need to say something negative about the site, which brings me to the forums. I quite enjoy discussions about potential football transfers and general banter about teams performance and used to use this forum for that. However recently it seems to be increasingly filled with useless posts. Additionally this part of the site seems to be really slow to access and is generally very disappointing when it is access. Probably something to avoid.
** In a nutshell **
You are paying for it anyway, but at 31p a month I think it is a bargain.