I don’t know about you, but I love competitions, equally as a spectator and a participant. I always had.
Competitions provide an opportunity to test yourself against similarly (more or less) talented and trained opponents and against absolute minimum standards, which usually happen to be very high.
Unlike the sports world, however, to whom incidentally we artists owe this whole idea of competition since ancient times, the art world managed to create one more anomaly as if we did not have enough eccentricities to cope with: the ‘no first prize’ notion.
Imagine if, during the world cup final in football, and after a remarkably intense game that had ended in a draw, some jury of experts had decided that there would be no cup winner this year!
It would be a travesty, a joke, and a blow to the whole industry, which, unlike classical music, involves billions in jobs, investments, sponsorships, etc.
Imagine if, at the final game of the NBA finals, the audience could opt for a ceremony where no winner would get a ring just because there were not enough dunks! It would break the natural process of what the audience and performers expected organically.
Perhaps it explains why sports continue to attract billions of viewers and thousands of fans, and fine arts only hundreds and dozens. Whereas the sports world governs clear rules, the arts-world rules via a handful of snobs, convinced they know it all, often against all indications.
As a result, music competitions started (already a few decades back) refusing the first prize award, sharing the second prize among two recipients, and seeking pointless variations on that theme. Scared by the proliferation of similar competitions, often just right next door, and in a desperate attempt to distinguish themselves from the rest, they chose to publically diminish the worth of great artists so they could elevate themselves.
It didn’t work. And how could it possibly work? Shooting your foot was never the recipe for success.
Art needs no champions, only compelling creators. And competitions need no snobbery, only worthy winners. Deprive them of those, and audiences end up with nothing.