My friend Keith Woernle wrote an interesting piece regarding satellites. I recommend you read it. Below are my thoughts...
I agree with Keith's basic premise. On the Mid-States Poker Tour, we do not allow players to get cash, but they are allowed to sell their certificates. This ensures every satellite seat awarded is used and accounted for in our Main Events. It's proved an effective system.
I do wish all satellites "made it about the experience" like Keith suggests. I think where things took a turn for the worst is when sites/venues wanted to offer satellites into the WSOP (for which they must receive permission and officially sanctions). Instead of working with the WSOP to make that happen, I think the legal loophole was they could instead award cash (which in theory, but usually not practice, would be used for the WSOP buy-in). Like deepstack structures, reentries, etc., the rest of the poker world caught on.
I think a lot of players might argue they should be able to do what they want with their money, and in current climate hard to argue that point. Given that, it'd be a moot point if, like Keith suggests, satellites made it so the only option was to play the seat.
I do think it's time the poker world took another look at satellites and found a way to reinvigorate them. I feel that while they do help the game, they could do even more for poker.