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Sports was a System compatible toyline that involved tabletop versions of team sports such as Basketball, Football (Soccer) and Hockey, as well as other sports like skateboarding or snowboarding (both under the name Gravity Games). Most sets included normal System elements and even normal minifigures but also featured many new unique pieces to enable various new playability functions that were characterictic to this theme and set it apart from other sports-related conventional LEGO sets.
The name Sports and the logo first appeared in 2003, although the first Sports-styled soccer-sets already appeared in 2000. But these were then sold under their own logo and not under the Sports brand until 2003 when LEGO added additional forms of sport to its portfolio.
Licensing contracts allowed LEGO to sell many of its sets with the official logos of major sports organizations related to the sport featured in the sets, such as NBA, NHL, NHL Players' Association and Gravity Games or sporting good manfacturers like Adidas.
Football was the first sport featured in the sports theme. The first sets were released in 2000. The play principle involved minifigures on fixed positions that were mounted on flexible stands in the center of small pits on the field. The football would fall into one of the pits and flipping back and releasing the respective figure would flick the ball out of the pit into the desired direction. With this concept, two large football fields for team matches and several small training setups with fewer figures were released.
Basketball worked in a similar way as soccer, but the ball had to be picked up from the pit first by bending the minifigures over so that the ball was grabbed between the arms. It was then flipped back and upon release the ball was flicked away. The minifigures have special leg segments with springs so they could be bent over easier.
There were some sets featuring LEGO Hockey Minifigures, as well as larger figures that moved their hockey stick when hit on the head using TECHNIC parts. Also seen was a set based on Street Hockey. Interestingly, while this is a System theme, there were only two System sets but a large number of TECHNIC sets.
Skateboarding and snowboarding (Gravity Games)
These sets featured normal minifigures on small boards that could be used in a way similar to fingerboards. The sets also included several accessories such as ramps, rails or half pipes.