Competition can absolutely be rational. I applaud the value of team sports, both for players and spectators. It’s an optional value, but definitely an objective value in life. People can compete for unhealthy or healthy reasons. You won’t likely know by watching them play, but you will know if you gain access to their inner motivations (which you almost never will). Unhealthy competition involves needing to beat the other person because ‘if I beat the other person, I’m good.’ It’s second-handed. Healthy competition is motivated by a desire to have a forum or context for seeking to reach one’s own highest standard. A healthy competitor is focused on beating his own best score as a primary motive; beating someone else is only a secondary motive, and only in the first and primary context of beating one’s highest standard. It’s a subtle, and usually not a very visible difference in motive—but a profound one.