Zaroff's game seems to be rigged in his favor and for this reason it is not as "sporting" as it could be. With dogs to help him find and quarter his prey, plus an expert knowledge of the terrain on the island that the prey cannot possibly have, Zaroff stacks the proverbial deck in his favor.
To be sporting, the game would have to be fair. Zaroff's game is not.
This doesn't seem sporting at all. Not only is one party forced into the event, but they clearly hold a very small chance of survival, as the General said he had not lost a game yet. The General though Rainsford would be the ultimate challenge, I don't agree that Rainsford is the great hunt Zaroff dubbed him to be. Rainsford's specialty is being on the prowl; he has no experience being chased. This is evidenced when Zaroff sees Rainsford hiding in the tree in the first day, but lets him go because he wants to make it interesting.
A ultimate challenge would probably be a NAVY SEAL who is used to be pursued by the opposition. This to me would be more sporty, though in a sadistic and inhumane way.
Certainly, you could argue that Zaroff gives Rainsford a "sporting chance" - after all, he deliberately lets him go not just once after working out Rainsford's stratagems. However, at the same time, we can also view this as playing with your victim before killing him, and such notions do not fail to mask the extreme brutality and cruelty of Zaroff.
Zaroff's "game" is obviously not sporting before Rainsford. If it were, his hunting of humans would not have left him bored. Obviously, those men were scared and simply ran for cover, providing no real challenge for the General. When he hunts Rainsford, Zaroff is challenged at every level. However, he has a worthy opponent and still doesn't play fair--he uses the dogs. Not quite sporting of a world-class hunter, it seems to me.
There is a fine distinction between sport and sporting. Sporting implies that participants have similar chances for success and that in order to be the winner, one must out maneuver and out think the opponent. In that sense, Zaroff’s “game” is sporting.
I agree with response #2. Only on some sick, psychotic level could you consider Zaroff's hunt to be a sport. It takes great skill for Rainsford to evade Zaroff, but that skill is motivated by the need to survive and not the desire to win a game.
Sporting would suggest that both parties are voluntarily involved, matching wits, experience, and instinct. The fact that Zaroff is forcing his 'victims' to participate is what makes it murder, or attempted murder.