Idea: Some sports involve playing with your competitors, but most involve just playing beside them.
I love watching the Olympics. But have you noticed how different the various sports are? I wonder whether some of them really should be called sports at all. Perhaps “athletic performances” would be better.
In some sports, like soccer and rugby, how you play affects how your opponents play, and vice versa. You are playing with and against each other. The two (or more) sides can help and hinder each other. It matters who shows up to play against you. That’s a real sport.
In other sports, like the 100 meter dash, you just all happen to be running in the same direction at the same time. You are playing side-by-side, not with each other. And in still others, you’re not even competing side-by-side. You go sequentially. It’s a series of performances more than anything else.
I think the sports where you actually play against your competitors are the sportiest sports. But I’m not sure why I think that.