I think it all depends on your Sensai.
If it has been drummed into you that kumite is nothing without good kihon and kata, then you can enjoy Karate as an Art and a sport.
The reality of karate as a self defence system I thought was a good one. However, in recent times I have discovered that many teachings of karate do not cover serious street defence.
In short, the best many can hope for is a split second better reaction, a more confident approach to life and possible a greater range of weapons to use (although it has been noted that this can be a disadvantage).
I compare it to Sambon Kumite against Ju-ippon Kumite.
They both use very similar techniques, but their application is worlds apart.
Shotokan Karate as an art is indeed structured and beautiful, its fighting systems are only good within its own constraints.
The benefit of all this is that there are deeper realisations that can be gleaned, toward self perfection and knowledge.