Moving along in knocking out some basic rules that will eventually allow me to play with toy soldiers the way I imagine...
My take on 5E backgrounds, btw, isn't necessarily "by the book"...even though RAW allow for a lot of customization on this front anyway. The 5E standard seems to be for a background to provide two skill proficiencies, two tool or language proficiencies, a package of starting gear, one bonus feature that enhances roleplay, and tables for generating one or more personality traits, bonds, ideals, and flaws.
I just want to generate backgrounds that are somewhat balanced with this but don't get bogged down in tiny details. Now, I also understand that the tables for bonds, flaws, etc. are probably what many people like the most about 5E backgrounds - and they're certainly the part that takes the most work to create - but those are details that can easily be trimmed. And while I LOVE that rules emphasizing roleplaying are so prominent in the 5E core, I have found that all of these character details are more than I actually feel like processing before playing a character for the first time. Maybe if my group was a "one campaign for years" crew, I would appreciate taking the time to get to know each character using these tables. However, we jump around enough that I prefer to just allow some character personality traits to emerge in gameplay.
Anyway, all of that is to say...here's my really simple Elite Athlete background to use when playing with toy soldiers:
Skill Proficiencies: Athletics + your choice of Acrobatics, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Insight, Perception, Deception, Intimidation, or Performance (based upon the specific sport and position)
Additional Proficiencies: Weights, ________ Equipment
Feature: Legend in This Town - You are well-known in the region(s) in which you regularly played while achieving the greatest successes of your sports career. In this area (which can vary greatly in size depending upon the nature of the competition and the level of success), you are treated as a high-level celebrity, gaining access to anything available for a price to the general public and to many things unavailable even for money. This includes entrance to clubs, invitations to major events, and the audience of the region's power brokers if you so desire. Fans and admirers will often offer to buy you drinks in local establishments. They will also request a lot of photos, autographs, and moments of your time to share their appreciation for you.