The theory of ‘development’, when applied to sports, remains an ambiguous and unclear reference. ‘Development’, like ‘modernization’, can be interpreted as Western sports exported to the Third World, as a neo-colonial ‘brawn drain’ of African athletes to the West, as evolutionism and ‘individualization’, none of which considers cultural diversity. This article analyses functionalist developmental theory, currently mainstream in countries like Germany. Developmental theory has a tendency to overlook diversity in sports and, more specifically, dynamics in popular sports and movement culture within different social contexts. There is nothing like ‘the one sport’, nor does ‘the soccer game’ exist alone in the rich world of football. Diversity in sports inspires differentiated views of democracy. How are different forms of democracy, especially in today's ‘competitive state’, implicated in sports? There is no reason to cultivate an attitude of better-knowing when facing the development of ‘the others’. This limitation launches a humble start for sports development as a means of mutual exchange and enrichment.