This is mostly a personal thing. It may be my background as an editor, or it may just be a quirk of how I'm wired, but I have strong feelings about words, what they mean, and how we use them. I'm not so arrogant as to suggest that I'm always right, but when I say these words, this is what I mean.
Warrior: I've written about this before, and my feelings pretty much remain the same. Warriors are people who fight, or have fought, in wars. That's the job description. Bakers bake. Warriors war.If you have not done that job, you are not a warrior.
(Quick flow chart: are you, or have you ever been, a member of the armed services? If yes, you may be a warrior. If no, you are probably not a warrior. I grant this is not a perfect system, but it's a good start.)
Athlete: Do you compete in a sport? Congrats, you're an athlete. Do you not compete in a sport? Congrats, you are not an athlete.
There is also an important distinction between a recreational, amateur, and professional athlete, but that's another discussion.
Fighter: Fighters fight. Amateurs fight for little or no money. Professionals fight for more money. If you are not getting in the ring, on the mat, or in the cage, you are not a fighter. You may be an aspiring fighter, or a retired fighter, but if you're not actively competing, you're not a fighter.
Elite: If you're not in the highest echelons of your chosen field, you are not elite. Get over it.(This post has a great example of someone who is actually elite.)
This is all linked to the whole morality thing. People use these words because they attach some kind of moral weight to them, as though being a warrior is the highest possible calling, and only someone who is a warrior is worthy of respect. Which is bullshit. Plenty of non-warriors have contributed to society, and will continue to do so. It's quite possible to live a great, meaningful life without being a warrior, athlete, fighter, or elite. Indeed, most people will live their lives without being any of those things.
(And if being a warrior is really important to you, head to your local recruiting office...I'm sure they'll help you out.)
Be a good human being. If that includes being a fighter, warrior, or whatever to you, then do it. If not, that's fine. Just go be a good human being. (The phrase "be good" has weird implications to me after reading Worm, but that's another story.)