I have to admit, I have not yet encountered this concern among the East-Coast con circuit, and it is very interesting to know that it is a growing trend (a trend that is worth noting for the planning of future Masquerade Events.) I think you hit on one of the main reasons why the "professional" competition is much better handled in Sci-Fi and Costume conventions: these conventions have, more than likely, been around for longer than most anime conventions. When you look at the Sci-Fi circuit, you have costumers who have been costuming since the late seventies. Most cosplayers at anime conventions were not even BORN in the late seventies. Therefore, these conventions (I'm assuming) have the fanbase that can support a separate "professional" division.
I believe that as the Anime-con circuit continues to expand, there may be a changing viewpoint on "professional" costumers entering said competitions. Heck, it took Anime Boston five years to reach a point where we had enough experienced 'novices' to support a Journeyman division (which I plan on implementing in '08 due to an overwhelming number of 'novice' entries in '07.) I have seen a lot of the 'professional' or 'experienced' cosplayers lose interest in competing-- preferring to act as judges or staff of said conventions. Perhaps, if this trend continues and the anime convention circuit adopts a 'professional' division, maybe some of these experienced cosplayers might come out of 'retirement' and once again show off their costuming skills on stage.
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