I happened to be looking at my access stats (bored much?) and noticed an incoming hit from a site ‘ballhype.com’ that I didn’t recognize. So I decided to pay a visit out of curiosity. I’m glad I did! BallHype is a social networking site similar to Digg that is dedicated to all things sports. However, instead of relying just on user submitted stories, it also aggregates stories from sports blogs across the internet. Add to that common social networking features such as groups, discussion threads not only for each hyped story, but also for user groups, and a customizable dashboard, you have a pretty cool service for sports nuts.

Of course, I’m a soccer nut. I don’t want posts from just any sport in my dashboard. Well, they let you filter just about any dashboard widget by sport or locale. They also have some neat tools for bloggers to integrate ‘Hype It’ badges into your posts, content feeds into your sidebar, and more. There is also a ‘Games’ section which seems like it will list scores for games, though there aren’t any for soccer right now. Will be interesting to see if they get reliable feeds for that for MLS, EPL, and others.

I’ll admit that I was excited when Digg decided to branch out beyond technology and added a variety of topics, including soccer. But the soccer section has been useless since most stories get 1 or 2 diggs max and never rise to the main page. BallHype seems to solve that problem. Already they have a lot of the familiar blogs from the SoccerSphere and are adding more each day. They just ‘went live’ today, though they have been in beta for a bit. So stop by and check out what they have to offer. After jumping around the site for a while, I found it well thought out, easy to use, with a clean interface. AJAX is used where necessary, but not excessively.

For kicks, I created a couple groups: Youth Soccer and Soccer Bloggers. Many of us who blog about soccer interact via email and comments from time to time, but there is little interaction beyond that. Maybe this would be a better medium to exchange ideas. Who knows. You can find me under my usual moniker: Soccer Dad.

Like many startups, it may crash and burn, but it seems promising and the founders, Erin and Jason, seem committed to it’s success. Don’t get me wrong – SoccerBlogs.net is a site I will always visit at least once a day, but I think there is a place for something like BallHype in the SoccerSphere as well. Only time will tell. I say this as someone who has never really participated in social networks before – no time or enthusiasm to do it. But this has me intrigued. So I’m willing to give it a try for a while.

My complaints are few. One is with the sidebar widgets – the narrow one is still pretty wide (over 160px) and won’t fit many themes. Would be nice if it could be set between a range of, say, 120 and 180 or so. I’m thinking I might try to put together a plugin for WordPress to make including the badges easier, similar to how many do it for Digg. Another is hopefully the dashboard widgets will auto update after a while given the dynamic nature of user voted totals and content. This is fairly common with AJAX enabled widgets and would be nice. Finally the Most Hyped lists seem a bit off since they aren’t in order of total votes which seems odd. All minor and probably bugs yet to be squashed.

So check it out and let me know what you think – is this a good addition to the SoccerSphere?