Having spent a good portion of my life in sporting goods stores, I have a keen grasp on the competitive industry. When I was a kid, we had one pair of sneakers for daily use and a pair of cleats to play baseball. As time went on, sneaker manufacturers conditioned consumers to buy separate sneakers for tennis and basketball.

I do most of my sporting goods shopping these days on the Internet on sites for companies such as Sports Authority (NYSE:TSA), Dick's Sporting Goods (NYSE:DKS), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), and Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN), which offers products from Foot Locker (NYSE:FL) and Eastbay.com (among others).

It seems that fewer people walked into Big 5 Sporting Goods (NASDAQ:BGFV) in the second quarter; the sporting goods company in the Western U.S. fell short of both revenue and earnings projections. The company reported a 27% earnings increase, yet its per-share numbers fell short a penny ($0.35 vs. $0.36) of meeting analysts' expectations. Big 5's revenues grew 8.5% (3.9% for same-store sales) but also fell short of the consensus estimate ($184.5 million vs. $185.6 million). The company also targeted earnings to be in the $0.34- to $0.36-per-share range in the third quarter, which is below the current consensus estimate of $0.37 per share.

Taking matters into my own fingers, I surfed Big 5's website -- the company's lack of online shopping surprised me given that so many sporting goods retailers have gone the Internet route. With mainstream products from Nike (NYSE:NKE), Coleman, Easton, and Titleist, the company has the necessary suppliers to attract a substantial Internet clientele. The fact is consumers want to choose whether they can shop in a store (time permitting) or just hop on the Internet and wait a few days until a box is plopped down on their front porch.

With small chunks of sporting goods market share being chewed up by retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart, Costco, and BJ's Wholesale Club, people no longer have to shop exclusively at sporting goods stores to fulfill their athletic needs. Without an online presence, I think that Big 5 is at a competitive disadvantage against its long list of competitors that have taken the Internet jump. Instead of adding 13 to 16 new stores in 2004, the company should be spending some of that money to move inventory online.

Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent more than 12 years on Wall Street and now concentrates his writing on more fictional characters. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above.