Sporting games are exactly what they sound like, games in which players take active part in a sport or games that are based around a sporting theme. For the most part players in sports games play as the athlete themselves but sometimes sports games are more logic or role playing games depending on the style, plotline, and basic goal of the sport game. For this reason you may find some games classified as sports games that do not actively involve playing the sport quite in the way you imagined.
Sports games can usually be broken down into two categories, those in which you actively play the simulated sport and those in which you try to master the strategy behind the game to come out victorious. In other words, games in which your coaching method is actually more important than your skill level with the keyboard. In fact, the original computer game Pong was actually sometimes classified as a sporting game given its close relation to the sport of ping pong although players simply used a bar and dot to play.
Some of the most popular sports games are based around racing, baseball, football, and hockey today. Among the top ranking sports games in the PC online gaming community are MLB Dugout Heroes, New Star Grand Prix, and Major League Baseball 2K9. Given the fact that online gaming allows you to play against others online sports games have also become more popular due to Fantasy leagues in which players can choose their own team members to compete with.