Sports anime revolve around a recreational physical activity or skill. In addition they often adhere to certain genre conventions, the emphasis on training and practice in preparation for competition, characters desire for self improvement, and pursuit of a specific goal.
Sports — Subcategories
The different subcategories of sports should be used when the anime specifically is about one of those activities:
Baseball is like a complicated version of Rounders. It involves hitting a ball with a stick, then running around several bases placed in the form of a diamond on a field. Big in the US, and also in Japan.
Basketball is Netball for men, the real game that encourages dribbling and other such uncouth behaviour that was sanitised out of the ladies' version. However, it is itself woozy compared to Ulama, as the losing side are seldom publicly sacrificed.
Combat involves a violent conflict with the goal to establish dominance over an opponent.
Boxing involves punching someone until their brains fall out, then challenging them to a rematch. Many boxers survive successfully for years with no central nervous system at all, to the bafflement of medical science.
Judo is a frightening sport, in that it's not always the biggest and strongest person who wins. Being thrown flat on your back and forced to submit by girl who's shorter and younger than you is certainly a humbling experience.
Football involves kicking a ball in order to score a goal, while the other team tries to stop you by kicking the ball in the other direction to score a goal of their own. Note that this is not American Football.
Golf is the most pointless sport ever invented.
Gymnastics used to just be thought of as an excuse for ogling women in skimpy costumes. However, the march of progress has lead to a great reduction in the mammaries that made this an interesting prospect, leading to a disillusionment with the sport.
Tennis is yet another sport involving hitting a ball. Were it not for the copious amounts of grass involved in certain varieties, it seems hard to imagine that people would pay it any attention at all.
Volleyball is a game best played on sand and half naked. Though it can be played indoors, this loses the magic somehow.