CVV - Only few will become top sporter in karate and only for a limited time. There will still be a lot of time left after a sport carreer either as a coach/trainer or as a 'traditional' practitioner or both.
I agree with CVV the MAs is a cycle in persons career unlike boxing (over at 35 on average)or Thai-boxing (in Thailand over at 28-30) after the ring fighting is over you graudally stop training, on average. In Karate you come to a new horizon and start to discover what it is you are really studing. I've had numerous sport fighters come back to training serious and have discovered a whole new art instead of sport. They are even more serious in their training understanding that they don't have to kick high anymore, but know it exist.
Karate cycles start at 6-35yrs old, the sport aspect entices them, (mines was s/d then sport then back s/d)then you start to gravitate toward more serious training at 18-35 yrs of age. You start listen and training on whats being said and taught instead of if it will score in tourneys.
25-40 years old you may even quit competing and start training on self defense skills, personal devlopment and awarness, maybe keep up on tourney skills because its is a big draw and you can't teach if the doors are not open.
25-50 years - Old you are travelling particpating in other arts or digging deeper into your base. Studying with like students and teaching and learning variations of what you already know or new totally concepts of delievery.
30-7X - Your studies continue and you are able to deliver a more concise idea of what a technique is and how to apply it. You learn until you die just an accepted reality.
Few boxers or Thai-boxers become coaches or teachers compared to Karate students, all my people have a chance in front of the class at a certain level. This might just be their nicht.
I think the state of Karate in 20 years will be more reality and self defense. Point tourneys paids the bills,
But there are already continuous sparring division, full contact at some tournaments some are even having MMA like bouts. Karate will be looked at like Judo or JJ a skill you can start as a base. But really it will still be a life time journey.