I love the way competition can bring out the best in people. There are certainly downsides–cheating, self-destructive obsession–but I can’t think of a better performance enhancer than a good opponent. I know I dig deepest when I have someone else to measure up to: I climb harder, move faster, and just generally bitch and moan less.
That’s why I’m psyched on rescue competitions. People’s lives depend on the skills of emergency workers like lifeguards and SAR teams. If competitions can drive them to develop that extra edge, then they should compete.
After some research, I put together this list of contests that test rescue workers’ skills. These are about as far from pickup basketball as sports get.