Re: The Challenge of Not Competing
Just two cents:
I don't think its necessarily true that sports are different from budo in lacking an aspect of "life or death." In some sports people risk and sometimes lose their lives in competition.
In some sports, deaths are more or less freak accidents -- like when somebody breaks their neck or dies of a heart attack playing American football.
In other sports, the risk of death is more inherently part of training and competition Take cycling:
If you've ever descended off a mountain on a road bike at speeds over 50 mph, on tires about 25 cm wide, you likely understand in your bones and in your gut that if you crash you well may die. Deaths and career-ending injuries do occur in European road racing from riders going down on the road or off the tarmac on mountain stages. Mountain biking -- lower speeds, but more dangerous terrain.
I used to race on a pretty informal basis, and trained on mountain roads. I once had my front brake cable snap during a descent in the middle of a curve; on another occasion, a bee flew into my shoulder while descending.
Both times, I came really close to crashing, and I was afraid for my life. And my experiences in these and other situations are not that unusual.
Or consider going for a really long swim in open water without a boat to spot you.
Or take sports like hang gliding; free diving; free climbing....
Whatever benefit is to be derived from overcoming the kind of fear those situations and experiences engender is inherent in these sports.