If some person new to the hobby in the last year decided to enter and the entries were closed, then I might have some sympathy.
If someone has been in the hobby and entered before, saw the first regional center fill up 2 years back, then rule changes were made to accomadate those that got shut out. Then all of the center fill up last year (no longer regions) and 10th region added this year to allow for more entries was the change taken by the committee. Then this years competition fills up in about 2+ days.. If anyone was surprised by this after the conference sold out in 2 days, then they have not been paying attention.
I don't think the AHA was "not paying attention" and thus allowed the competition to exlude lots of brewers and unfold they way it did. I think the AHA did its best to accomadate as many brews as they could. If they knew this chaos of anger and exclusion would ensue I'm sure they would have taken steps to remedy the situation before it could begin. It clearly can't be conducted in the same manner as before, and the AHA was definitely paying attention and not to blame.
This was not directed at the AHA, but at anyone that had the feeling of anger and exclusion that you mentioned. If they were asleep at the switch when the conference or competition filled up - sorry, there is always next year.
The AHA has been taking the steps I outlined above. No one, and I mean no one, would have predicted the year to year explosive growth the hobby has been seeing a few years back. Dealing with growth of this magnitude is hard.
I know several of the GC members, they have been working hard over the last few years to improve the competition and the conference.