I don't read as much science fiction/fantasy as I did when I was a teen, and have never been a part of organized fandom (neither of these things are meant to distance myself from those who do/are, just saying it's not my current world), but I've vaguely followed the tale of the attempt of the gamergaterish faction of SciFi fandom to rig the Hugo Awards. Nice try.
"Genre" fiction or whatever we call it these days usually doesn't have a giant audience. Such awards provide an opportunity to maybe, just maybe, make a few bucks for most of the authors who really don't make much (some manage, most don't, even ones who sell a respectable number of books). As Jim says, the Sad Puppies might have ultimately lost, but so did some (by accounts) good authors.