I think there are pros and cons to competitive pinball:
* It forces you to dive deep into a game you might otherwise have ignored. Many people appreciate games more having been engaged with them in combat.
* If the tournament is done right, it encourages camaraderie and teamwork, sharing information and making friends
* It adds another dimension to pinball. Competitive pinball is different than casual, often with different play styles.
* It's good for self-esteem (if you do well.. lol)
* Ideally it should promote good sportsmanship
* Competition can sometimes bring out the worst in some players, who care more about winning than being good sportsmen
* If the tournament is not done right, it can cause players to be frustrated, alienate each other and be un-friendly towards fellow competitors
* Competitions often take long periods of time and players end up having to wait quite a bit for matches
* Competitions at other events often require players to stay in specific rooms or competition areas and they don't have as much of an opportunity to see the rest of the convention/area/exhibits
Notice nowhere in there, IMO is money a factor.
For me, I enjoyed the challenge of competition as a way to fine tune my ability to perform consistently under pressure and on demand. Pinball is more like tennis in this respect: it's about not making mistakes more than making kill shots. And I think there's an art and a skill to being able to perform "grace under pressure" that spills over into things other than pinball, and for me, I liked competing to hone my ability to "win", to set goals and achieve them.
The downside however, is that pinball is inherently not a completely fair sport in the general sense. With modern machines, winning often has more to do with knowledge of the game than raw pinball skill. This isn't as much a factor with high end competitions as it is with casual matches. But those who have better access to the games are at a significant advantage over those who don't, so it's not like basketball or baseball where basically anyone can access to the tools, work hard and become great. If you don't have access to a machine used in a match, your ability to win is significantly less.
So I'm torn on the issue. I think in some ways it's really useful. In other ways it can be frustrating.
Ultimately, you reap what you sow. I think everybody should try competition if they haven't, and if you have a bad experience, try again in a different circumstance. There are some very fun styles of competition like PinGolf that are worth trying that most people enjoy.