I agree that high execution and demand in all areas is the key to being competitive enough to *win*. And I can see reason behind ballet moves if that movement is in relation to visually interpreting ballet musical arrangements; or even classical music arrangements which is associated with ballet. But it seems extremely silly and pointless to me that percussion units now *have* to perform those ballet moves in all genres, such as rock music, jazz music, techno music, new age music, etc, to have a chance at crawling up to the top tier in WGI, BOA, and now somewhat in DCI. And when you look at scoring down the line mid-pack in WGI and BOA, those that focus more on executing ballet over all else certainly do score higher than those who focus on playing well over all else. Again, this is *guard* driving the percussion bus which is the historical aspect I referred to earlier.
It doesn't really matter what is motivating it. The fact is, doing all of the movement, and doing it well is a lot harder than simply marching from one dot to the next. That's why groups continue to do it, and continue to get more credit than groups who don't. Just like variety and demand are taken into account on the comp side of the PA sheet, the same is true for the vis sheet. And if you really pay attention to what groups are doing, you'll find that over the years, the movement has gotten more and more specific to what is going on musically, and the judges are becoming more and more critical of a lack of visual musicality. The movement has to fit the music. This is most prominent in the world class groups, but its even starting to filter down to the open and A class groups. As for your argument about the middle of the pack, I can see your point, but a group who tries to take that route will always be in the middle of the pack. Its no different from a group who doesn't attempt anything visually, assuming that they can get to finals on music alone. That's not what this activity is anymore. You're not going to see groups make finals that can't play, but you also won't see groups make finals that can't move well.
Having just come home from Grand Nationals, I can tell you that there was a huge drop off in how the groups that made finals sounded compared to the groups that didn't. That is not to bash on the groups who didn't make finals, but the difference was certainly there. Sure, most of those groups also had a wide variety of different visual demands varying from drill responsibilities, to velocity to body movement. The fact is, this is a visual activity. To be an elite group, you have to be executing high demand at a high level on both sheets. The combination of those things help to boost the effect sheets as well. There will always be groups who try to pad one sheet over the other, and sometimes a really high number on one sheet will be good enough to get you into the middle of the pack. There were groups who made semis this weekend just because of a really strong music or visual number. But none of those groups had any chance at making finals. If anything, on the sheets, there is an advantage to groups who play really well. The performance sheets are exactly evenly weighted, but there is twice as much weight given to music effect than visual effect on the BOA sheets.
Again, this is what this activity is now. The visual side of the game is a bigger part of the game than it was 20 years ago. That doesn't mean that the music is suffering at all. If you want to be good, you have to do all of it. If you don't want to be good, then why do it at all?