Are they a good thing?
""Some critics say you can't judge one person's art as better than another person's art, but of course you can," Pollei says. "Competitions encourage pianists to strive for excellence, and without them we wouldn't have great pianists like Manny Ax or Krystin Zimerman. They wouldn't have had careers. Besides, people love piano competitions, and there's evidence they're even beginning to replace piano recitals.""
I think that assessment isn't quite right. I hope not anyways.