While adding entries to a side project I started a few years ago (sportsmanga.info), I’ve had to think about which series to add to it and which not to add. That’s because I’ve come across some series classified under the sports genre that I don’t really think belong there. I decided to come up with a guideline I could use when I’m about to add something to the sports manga information site as well as when considering topics for blog posts on here.
My definition of what makes something a “sports” series is one that primarily involves physical and analog effort in competition with others, usually under a set of established rules. That covers traditional sports such as those held at Olympic games as well as activities conducted without balls or pucks, like karuta. It excludes activities that seem to me to be more games than sports – examples include go, shogi, card battles, and mahjong.
Also just because something is a physical activity like martial arts doesn’t mean that I automatically think something with martial arts is a sports series. Kenichi and Sumomomo are a couple series that feature martial artists fighting each other but not in a way that I would consider organized. I think of those as action comedies rather than sports ones.
I don’t intend to belittle the types of series that I don’t classify as sports series since the activities involved can provide excitement and, in most cases, require strategic thinking in order to succeed. Other people have different methods of determining whether something counts as a sport and that’s fine. I just wanted to explain my thought process for the things I’m working on.