My forte is louder than yours!

"The day I enter a music competition is the day the New York Phil and Chicago Symphony duke it out in a steel cage Mahler death match."  What are the benfits of music competitions?
 
The 2009 Van Cliburn Competition for pianists is about to commence, and it's a great opportunity for us to think about the value of music competitions.  
 
Here's a great article about the pros and cons of the Cliburn, with some very insightful quotes from a Rochester favorite, Jon Nakamatsu.
 
I'm a little put off by competitions, ever since my brass quintet entered a chamber music competition.  We were finalists in the wind chamber ensemble group, but ended up losing to a saxophone quartet.  Now everyone knows that the saxophone is way sexier than the trombone, and that they can play way more notes.  But the beef I had was that the only wind player on the judging panel was a saxophonist.  And the quartet that won?  Four of his students.
 
Still though, I'd pay good money for a NYP/CSO steel cage Mahler death match.  THAT would be a tough one to call...