Formal BBQ competitions: helping or hurting?
Competition normally leads to improvement, but there is an argument to be made that sanctioned competitions are not a true gauge of quality, and could actually hurting barbecue as a craft.
Teams strive to pack as much flavor as possible into their food since the judges will only eat a few bites of it, and a few decimal places on a score can mean the difference between not making it into the finals or winning a grand championship and a check as hefty as the hog they brought with them.
As a result, teams turn to whatever means of alchemy and witchcraft can make those bites shine, and it can result in flavor profiles that are way sweeter than anything someone would want to make a meal out of. Trickery like injecting meat to put more juice in it or using a curing rub on it before cooking to create an artificial smoke ring abounds. There is supposed to be something simple and honest about great barbecue that gets lost in the competitive frenzy.