The last thing that would ever come to mind when thinking of "sports" is "Google", but with a newly-granted patent, it looks as though the company hopes to change that. Filed in March of 2007, Google's patent looks to improve how sports fans deal with team information online. After perusing the entire mind-numbing patent, I can't say with absolute certainty exactly what Google plans to do with it, but chances are, the company's keeping things vague on purpose.
What I gained from reading through the patent is that Google has plans to release a sports feature that ties in with a social network - obviously G+. There, and via a GUI that displays a sports field (the patent explicitly states soccer, football, baseball, basketball and hockey as targeted sports) where users could build the current official squad, and implement images of the players on top of their entries on the field.
That last part is the key thing here. I've looked at many depth and position charts in my day, and never have I seen actual athlete images representing them on the virtual field. Instead, it's always been a simple icon that's represented the player. Admittedly, being able to see the player would be a great feature, but it's hardly an important one. In fact, it's a little humorous that this patent revolves a lot around that one simple feature.
With this patent, Google could really build a variety of things - even its own fantasy service, if it were so inclined (I couldn't imagine that happening, though). For sports fans though, Google's depth charts could actually be used to help people better make their choices for fantasy on other services, or simply keep up-to-date with their favorite teams. The sky's the limit, as they say.