It always seems composition contests are weighted against you. I may not be the best composer in the universe, but I know I'm not terrible. I recently entered a choral composition contest, and, as usual, did not win. The composers that did win were listed, so I found some of their music on YouTube and listened. It was typical choir music that is expected today: sweeping, monotonic, and totally not worth listening to again. Eric Whitacre would be proud.
The second thing, and more disturbing, is that I would say they won because they were young and fresh-faced, and are working in music. I do not work professionally in music, and I think this works against the musician. Samuel Barber, for example, called Charles Ives ''a hack who didn't know how to put a piece together." How nice.
Amateur composers are given short shrift, I guess.