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SASO Referees ([personal profile] referees) wrote2017-04-08 09:05 am

No seriously, what's a sports anime

A sport involves both training and competition. One of the most prevalent definitions of a "sport" comes from an international federation called SportAccord, and competition is their first qualification. They say a sport:

  • Should have an element of competition
  • Be in no way harmful to any living creature (in the sense of purposeful disablement or death, not accidental injury, targeted at eliminating something like gladiatorial dueling or big game hunting from the realm of "sport", while many martial arts that do not purposefully maim or kill opponents are real-world federated sports)
  • Not rely on equipment provided by a single supplier (excluding proprietary games)
  • And not rely on any "luck" element specifically designed into the sport

They further break sports down into the following categories:

  • Primarily physical, which are the bulk of what most people consider sports (and some organizations will limit "sports" to this category)
  • Primarily mental, which specifically includes activities like Chess or Go
  • Primarily motorized, which includes things like stock car racing or motorcycle races.
  • Primarily coordination contests, which includes things like billiards or darts
  • Primarily animal-supported, which includes things like show-jumping or polo

Using these definitions, we're able to open up SASO to a wide range of competition-based stories, even things that are forms of alternate reality sports rather than only representations of things you can find in the Olympics or in a SportsAccord-member sports federation. However, they all share a competitive aspect that is intrinsic to the activity or goal at the core of the plot.

For most of our entrants, this is an easy decision. Baseball, tennis (even with superpowers), swim racing, soccer, basketball, and such, by their nature as activities, involve competing with someone else as the point and the form of the activity. Artistic endeavors like orchestra, singing, painting -- or even cooking -- are places where the decisions are much, much fuzzier because the activities are not inherently competitive when practiced.

We do not allow every story about an idol group, for example, even if they happen to compete in a "Battle of the Bands." Because the Love Live! plot revolves around a club training for and competing in a league for the sake of winning a tournament against a wide range of competitors, especially because they train in a distinctly athletic fashion, we consider it a sport-like competitive format. Of the many cooking manga and anime that exist, thus far we have only allowed Shokugeki no Souma, the format of which revolves around a challenge ranking system at a particular culinary institute. We don't expect to include any other cooking stories any time soon.

This falls under our final criterion listed on our nominations page: "Is the goal of the series to excel within your chosen field, as demonstrated through a plot-central competition series, or is the central concept about self-improvement of another kind?" Every sport may be a competition, but not every competition is a sport. No matter how amazing an animanga title might be, a friendly yet driven desire "to win" among a field of your peers is the heart of what we're looking for in a sports anime title.

Also the points we listed on the main FAQ still apply: we favor series that don’t have fantastical elements, which feature school-age-only characters, which have a team aspect, and which feature sports anime tropes such as training camp arcs. But if an anime is focused on a real-world physical sport, we’ll accept it even if it doesn’t meet any other qualifications. (Including a sport but not being focused on it isn't enough; for example, Revolutionary Girl Utena is not a sports anime.)

As always, if you’re not sure if something counts, go ahead and nominate it anyway. Just please understand that if we don’t accept it, the reason we didn’t is probably related to what we wrote above.

Thank you for reading all this, and we hope you join us for SASO this year!

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