It's popular because it works better than anything else.
If this were true, I would expect the BSD distros to consider it and they couldn't be bothered with systemd. In my view, it's "right tool for the right job" and systemd certainly makes some sense on desktops (especially if using GNOME) but I can hardly understand how it could be considered as "working better than anything else" for servers. Specifically, my biggest gripe is the lack of feedback/console logging after issuing a service start/stop/restart/reload action. There are others to be sure (like the NTP tirade that some have voiced).
As you point out, choice is a good and healthy thing and I'm glad that some choices are still available. But those choices are shrinking with so many distros on the systemd train. It's not about not wanting to learn, but far more about suitability and there should NEVER EVER EVER be a one-size-fits-all solution. If I wanted that, I would use Windows.