Their contributors list includes the outstanding Dave Zirin, Jeff Ma and Peter Casey -- three folks I ID'ed back in late August as ideal to pitch in to HuffPo Sports.
Other contributors on Day 1: Mike Lupica(?!), agent Arn Tellem, sports stat gurus David Berri (Wages of Wins) and Wayne Winston (Mathletics and last seen working blue on TrueHoop); Chris Tsakalakis (President of StubHub); blogger Eric Angevine; athlete Shannon Rowbery; lawya Roger Abrams; and columnist Paula Duffy.
They all get it: Promotion through contributing to Huffington Post is a great way to build their brands -- the front door of HuffPo is powerful enough that links there can turn HuffPo Sports into a player.
One piece of it is landing "name" contributors. One piece of it is HuffPo's expertise in SEO and other traffic-generating site optimization. One piece of it is curating the best of what's out there on other sports sites, particularly ones breaking news.
And the other -- possibly most important -- piece is HuffPo's ability to latch onto the most popular memes in sports on any given day and inserting itself in the middle of them: The topics that transcend avid sports fans and appeal either to the casual fan or the non-fan (the recent women's soccer thing comes to mind). The site currently leads with Sammy Sosa's freakish face, which was No. 1 on Google Trends on Monday.
The site is going to be successful because the gameplan is simple and extremely effective -- it's the old Green Bay Packers "Lombardi sweep" for the Internet age.
Will it be embraced by the rest of sports media -- particularly the sports-blog universe? Frankly, it doesn't need to be.
(Update: And, in its first 24 hours, it's not.
(UPDATE to Update: I mis-characterized the "mockery" above -- the good folks at SB Nation were merely ID'ing the HuffPo's market, and -- in fact -- agreed with me that it is an underserved niche with incredible potential. Apologies for misreading and any misleading I did.)
But if the growth trajectory of the original Huffington Post is any template, the number of contributors will skyrocket over the next few months -- sports bloggers are nothing if not happy to write for free, if it means a little extra self-promotion and the promise of new traffic -- and the page views will be fueled with help from the HuffPo.com front-page firehose.
It's a smart spin-off and a solid debut.