As much as I hate to talk about the cancerous tumor that is League of Legends, it makes a good example here. To even create an account, you have to sign an agreement of sportsmanship (the summoners code). While general competitive nonsense is fine, violating the code of sportsmanship gets you reported and banned. Nobody in lol gets banned for playful banter, nobody gets banned for selling all their items and changing their entire build to throw off the other team, nobody gets banned for using game mechanics in-game to psych out their opponents. HOWEVER, the LoL community is known far and wide as a cesspool of toxicity and unsportsmanlike behavior, because even when someone isn’t doing anything in-game to be a dick, they are still crossing the line in how they are treating their teammates or opponents.
There is completely a right answer here. To say there isn’t is to purposely use vague, undefined terms to prevent really answering the question.
Anything within the mechanics of the game is fair trade. Anything done EXPLICITLY to make your opponent upset or that crosses the lines of obvious poor behavior or done with the intention of sneaking around the rules of the game or cheating your opponent out of plays/information they should have access to is inexcusable.
Example A: I Install-advance-advance a card and say to the opponent “it’s an agenda”. I could be lying. But it takes nothing from the opponent and is not rude to them. It’s potentially annoying, but harmless.
Example B: I notice the opponent makes a mistake in their play. This is a tournament. I do not say anything to them about it. That is being competitive. It’s THEIR job to play well. I will not help my opponent when stakes are on the line. Completely OK.
Example C: I act like a LoL player and scream obscenities and racial slurs at my opponent for 5 straight minutes (10 for adc mains) because they sole an agenda. Gameplay is completely unaffected, but I 100% guarantee you I will be kicked out of the game store and NOBODY will play with me ever again.
Example D: I flat-out cheat in any way. Unacceptable.
Example E: I do what that one asshole in MtG worlds did and try to abuse a language barrier with an opponent who doesn’t speak perfect english. Clear assholery. Unsportsmanlike. Deny’s the other players ability to play through no fault of their own.
Example F: When it comes to “tilting” another player, take the line from Batman Begins: “I won’t kill you, but I don’t have to save you”. Doing anything deliberately to irritate another player is poor sportsmanship, but if a player is known for getting upset easily, they rarely need a lot of help in that regard. Losing the game is quite often enough to make them angry and play poorly. By going into a competitive tournament, you are expected to be able to play in a competitive environment. This includes having the maturity and mental strength to handle stressful situations and lose a game without losing your temper. If you are against a player you KNOW is easy to tilt, the only thing you have to do is play well and get the advantage in the game. Their own immaturity will usually do the rest for you. Punish their mistakes and they will dwell on them and make more. Punish those and they will spiral into gamer rage. You don’t have to say a thing other than the plays you’re making, it’s not your job to be their babysitter. If they throw a tantrum and chuck their deck across the room because they lost, kick them out of the store, they are clearly not mature enough to play in a serious environment and the fault is completely theirs, not yours for being a dick.
The issue with excusing the kind of thing that this MtG article is talking about (excessive rules lawyering, trying to trick your opponent out of information, playing bagpipe music anywhere ever), is that when you excuse poor behavior with “well he was just being competitive”, it opens the gates to cheating as a form of being competitive, since you keep gradually blurring the lines of what’s considered “ok because it’s to win”. This has 1000% happened in MtG, because outright cheating is rampant, and I mean RAMPANT in MtG tournaments. And the excuse for cheating is ALWAYS “because I wanted to win”. (for real they did deck checks at a big tournament last year and 4 out of 5 people were caught with illegal decks. It’s BAD).
As far as which is worth more: a friendly, likable community that can go to a tournament without acting like spoiled children OR a super toxic, nasty, unpleasant and unwelcoming community of players who hate each other and are always trying to bend the rules for their own gain? How the Fisk is that even a question? If you would genuinely choose to be in the latter group, you need to have a serious soul-search about what winning and happiness and love of the game even mean to you.