Remembering “Sports Cartoons” Animated Shorts from the ’80s

Nickelodeon was one of my favorite cable channels in the ’80s and through the mid ’90s. Shows like You Can’t Do That on Television, Mr. Wizard’s World, and game shows like Finders Keepers were all must-watch television for me. And while the network had commercial breaks just like most channels, they incorporated entertaining elements to keep you hooked. Other than the animated bumpers to lead the viewer in and out of breaks, Nickelodeon would sometimes show animated shorts to fill time which included Sports Cartoons.

Sports Cartoons were produced by British animator/producer Derek Lamb and Canadian animator/author Janet Perlman. Lamb won an Oscar for the 1978 animated short Special Delivery and Perlman was nominated for an Oscar in 1981 for her animated short The Tender Tale of Cinderella Penguin. Lamb and Perlman, who were married for a time, corroborated on several animation segments for PBS shows including Sesame Street, NOVA, and the iconic opening titles for the long-running series Mystery!.

Sports Cartoons were short in length, as little as 40 second up to a couple minutes. Nickelodeon aired episodes from the mid ’80s up through the early ’90s. The series featured anthropomorphic animals competing in different sports activities. The Hippo is the hero character who always plays fair and ends up as the victor despite the efforts of the antagonist Cat. The Cat always cheats and attempts to distract the Hippo during the game which never ends well. Occasionally, the Pig faces off against the Cat with luck usually on his side. Also, a Dog appears in the series when a referee is needed. There was no dialogue in the episodes, except for some sadistic chuckles from the cat. At the end of most episodes after the Hippo triumphed over the Cat, he would give a thumbs up.

Sports Cartoons was released to VHS in 1985 but does not appear to ever have had a DVD release. Fortunately, the series has been preserved on YouTube in a 46-minute supercut of episodes. The episodes I remember most are basketball, darts, and chess.

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About Jason Gross 293 Articles
'80s kid and '90s grad. I've been writing and podcasting about 1980s pop culture since 2011 at my Rediscoverthe80s.com website. I collect vinyl, comics, Batman memorabilia, and all things Mobile Armored Strike Kommand.