Professional sports competitors are totally committed to excellence. Their success is measured by how often they win, and by how much. They will do anything to get a tiny advantage. Its worth it because their life is all about winning. They do it because next time they will be better. Being OK is not good enough; they must strive to be better, even by a tiny margin. Nobody, sports fan or not, would ever think that that's not worth doing.
What about design then. The kind that's about making stuff work well for people to use. How many things do you own that work really well; that are a delight to use? The classic examples are traditional tools like scythes. Perfectly balanced, shaped just right. For a 12-hour day working in the fields. I love stuff that works really well and my list comprises my bike, some hand tools, a bottle opener and a couple of pencils. These will be the subject of occasional posts under 'things we like'.
Now whether these items have been finely honed to make them work slightly better is something I probably won't be going into. But however they got to be how they are, the principle is that someone will have decided they're just right like that, after several improvements along the way. Except for the ones that aren't, which I will also be writing about from time to time. I suspect a pattern might emerge...