Snakebite always has a way of hitting dead center of the issue!
Nobody ever wants to run participants off for any reason! But, the cause of this issue is easily seen if you just look through all the threads. Folks ask "How do I get better?" and the answer is always - practice, practice, practice. That is for sure the truth!
BUT - over the years, the modifications to firearms and other equipment has always been geared toward increasing speed. That has resulted in the comments about "speed demons" and "gamers". But the reality of this issue is that those whose primary desire is to win, know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that they cannot practice all of the "other" stuff referenced as being from the "old days". The only thing they can realistically control is practice with their firearms, movement to and from shooting positions and the "all important" transition time from firearm to firearm and shot to shot. Top shooters are always going to be top shooters - stock guns and equipment or not.
One of the above posts mentions folks getting bored with a stand and deliver 10-10-4 stage. It would be SO easy to put in some "fun" stuff in a stage like that - throw a knife, turn a card, shoot a bow and arrow, throw a stick of dynamite, throw a hat, etc. Those would not alter times enough to cause any major backups in any size match. BUT, once again, the evolution of the game toward speed, speed, speed gets match directors who use those kinds of things chastised in many cases. And, those "Top Shooters" whose only desire is to win, just cannot live with any sort of "chance" being allowed in the game. Among many other things, that opportunity at a "chance" from an average shooter to be able to score higher than a "top shooter" as a result of sheer luck or being in the "right place at the right time" and the 15 seconds of fame associated with that is priceless to that average shooter. My experience is that those "average" shooters make up large numbers and likely pay the lion share of the bills at most matches.
I was honored to be the match director at the Shootout at Mule Camp for 14 years. We tried all kinds of those "fun" things. One of the most discussed was derived from a Tom Mix silent movie. The scenario started with the line "Action", then shooting each firearm from inside train cars from four different positions and when finished shooting, using a movie set "clap board" (which didn't effect the timer) so the last shot fired was the time elapsed. The caveat to this stage was that, since it was a Silent Movie, you would receive a 5 second bonus if you completed the stage without saying ANYTHING until after the Clap Board was done. Statistics from that stage yielded some 40% of shooters did not receive the bonus. And yes, on many posses, there became quite a bit of heckling between friends/shooters while and after shooting the stage. As harmless as it was, we received LOTS of complaints about that not being in the spirit of the game. During my tenure, we never tried that again at Mule Camp matches but our local folks enjoyed it so much that the concept was used in many monthly matches. Another instance was that we had some exploding targets with a 3/4" area that would ignite the target and make a BIG boom. We had a target made specifically for it with a matching 3/4" hole that allowed the bright red target area to be easily seen. The target was a 16" plate overall placed at 6 yards and was the last shot engaged (pistol or rifle). If the shooter missed the entire 16" plate, it obviously was a miss. If the target was hit, it was a hit - period. But if the shooter hit the center hole, the target made a BIG BOOM and the shooter received a 5 second bonus. The name of the stage was No Boom, No Bonus. Those that wanted to take additional time to aim precisely could do that, otherwise they could speed right along. The "average" shooters LOVED this one but the "top" shooters were vehemently upset with it. We had a stage once that required the shooter to sit on a buckboard seat and shoot all four guns. Four shotgun targets were directly in front of the "wagon" and the stage began with the shooter holding the "reins" (ropes attached to the shotgun targets for resetting). The shooter had to pull the shotgun targets up first before shooting the first firearm. Our idea was that the stage would take a bit more time since the shooter had to get into the wagon seat but we would overcome that additional time by not having to reset targets. In theory, it worked great but we got criticized for requiring all shooting to be done from a seated position - voiced the loudest by those "top shooters" who did not practice that concept. I have shot matches that required the shooter to put together a Colt style revolver that had the cylinder and cylinder pin removed. Seems harmless, right??? You would be amazed at the number of shooters that have never done that - especially those that shoot Rugers. Shooting from "horses" used to be a normal part of the game but has gone away in the bigger matches due to the additional time required. So, the bottom line is that, regardless what you try, some will like it and some will not. But I firmly believe that the vast majority of shooters enjoy the non-shooting "fun" aspects that used to always be a part of the game way back when. And, the vast majority of the shooters don't spend much time worrying about calculating how much the total receipts for a match are due to the number of shooters participating.
As Snakebite has so eloquently said many times, Cowboy Action Shooting belongs to the shooters. Read that carefully - it does say Cowboy not just Action Shooting. And yes, that does relate to the dress requirements but it also relates to the shooting scenarios when it all started years ago and for MANY years thereafter. Nowadays, that Action part relates more to the amount of time it takes to cycle the action of each firearm. Some long for the "old" days, others not so much.