I would recommend you to use an USB joypad. I've tried so so so many times with the most diferents joypad/sticks you may think. No matter what, I could never get it to run under Linux and the default joystick port/sound card joystick port. Then, out of curiosity, I've tried with 2 USB pads of mine and it worked without any problem ( a little odd to load the right modules and other stuff). It's a Saitek 750P and a PSone USB adaptor (which allows you to use PSone and PS2 joypads/wheels under Linux). Those two ones works greatly.
Thinking even a little further, I would recommend you a wireless USB joypad, so you can use it with mplayer (for example) as a remote control, really cool. That's what I'm going to buy soon