Personal criteria of what’s considered a “sports” series

While adding entries to a side project I started a few years ago (, 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.

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5 thoughts on “Personal criteria of what’s considered a “sports” series

  1. For the most part I’d agree, though it’s a bit strange to consider karuta a sport and similar things like “card battles” not? Chihayafuru is undoubtedly a sports series to me, but what sets karuta apart from other card games? Just wondering! 😮

    1. Maybe I made a special case for Chihayafuru and didn’t properly justify it… but I guess I would say there’s a speed element to karuta where the people playing have to react quickly to beat their opponents compared to many card-based games where the competitors take turns?

  2. Personally while giving a panel on sports this past weekend I started to think about this subject a lot more closely. I pretty much always categorized card battle shows as sports anime, but the points you bring up here came to my mind – particularly, the physical exertion aspect, which is something that makes Chihayafuru a sports anime. Stuff like shogi and card games can be classified as “games anime” or something like that. Despite the separate classifications, though, these kinds of shows tend to share thematic threads and carry the same historical influences that talking about them in the same context is still completely valid, I think.

    1. Thanks for the comment and I hope your panel went well.

      I understand your point and I might expand my coverage of series on this blog to include the stuff I initially would have not classified as sports. What I do write about from that lot would probably depend on the length of a given series.

  3. Would you consider Ping Pong the Animation a sports series? Because personally, I don’t think it deserves the hype around it that is attributed to the series being a “sports” anime. It just frustrates me when I read comments easily classifying the anime as “the best sports anime ever”. That does a bit of injustice to the sports anime I consider as sports anime, much like the intention of your post. In all honesty, though, I love Ping Pong and it’s certainly one of the best coming-of-age anime I’ve seen (and in just 11 episodes to boot).

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