The following was posted on the BattleBots Forum from Gary Cline on 7/22/99 in regards to anyone attending a Robot Competition event:
Robotic Competition Audience Decorum
by Gary Cline
It has recently come to my attention that, because we are lucky enough to have a full-fledged robotic competition this year - namely BattleBots on August 14th and 15th at the Cal State Long Beach Pyramid Long Beach, California, there will likely be participating audience members who are new to this sport and are unfamiliar with what may be expected of them at such events. Since I have experienced many events of this nature and deem myself somewhat of an expert audience participant, I thought I would share my thoughts on this subject in the hopes that novices would have a more fulfilling experience as a result.
Appropriate Attire -
This is a very subjective topic and one which your particular couture tastes must dictate. If you wish to blend in with the crowd, I would suggest anything in black to be appropriate. All-black would be preferred. Leather boots, chaps, vests, hats and gloves are quite the norm along with adornments such as chains, whips, studs, restraints, body piercings and spurs - usually in silver. Goth, Retro, along with PVC, and latex would fit into this class as well. If you wish to stand out, you should lean toward the more primary colors - mixing plaids perhaps with vertical or horizontal stripped attire. But the use of costumes such as that depicting a clown or a fairy princess would be considered most inappropriate, as would the wearing of ties by men, or high-heels by women - with the possible exception of "spiked" heels which would be most appropriate.
Making Your Entrance -
When you are about to enter the event, you'll no doubt have to wait in some line of fellow audience participants. You may be asked to fill out and sign a release of liability waiver, so bring a pen. This document absolves the event organizers and the venue proprietors from any liability in the unlikely event that you become dismembered, mamed or die while being an audience participant. The traditional custom with regard to this document is to not read it. Just sign it and turn it in as you enter the event. And don't ask for a copy or ask any questions regarding this document, as you may be disqualified from participating for such a faux pas. As you enter the event, act friendly to the security people. This may not seem natural to you, because in many cases they appear to be brutish, dysfunctional bullies with many anger issues confronting them - which is true. So, even though you'll be terrified of these monsters, just appear calm and smile. These "people" can sense fear and WILL act on it. Also, if you're planning on bringing any weapons such as guns, knives, bats, lazer pointers, etc. - be prepared to leave them at the entrance gate. Generally, no audience weapons are allowed. Appropriate
Behavior During Robot Matches -
This is a large and complex topic, but the socially accepted behaviors are as follows: First, it is quite acceptable to cheer for your favorite robot in just about any manner you wish. Booing, hissing and making obscene gestures toward your non-favored robot is also quite acceptable. You will have an opportunity to do both as each robot is introduced for a match. During a match there are only a few things which would be considered inappropriate. For one, trying to enter the arena and somehow interfere with a match is not acceptable behavior. Another transgression would be to try to throw something into the arena. The robot's team members may, from time to time, be throwing objects into the audience from the arena such as t-shirts and other promotional items. It is quite acceptable for audience particpants to fight over these items somwhat akin to being at a baseball game and retrieving a foul ball or homer. Another thing which may result in severe bodily harm to you would be if you attempted to exit the grandstand during the middle of a match to - say visit the restroom or get a drink of water. Generally, this behavior is the most dangerous thing you could do, because it tends to so infuriate fellow audience participants who's views of the arena may (or may not be) temporarily blocked. At the very least, it is considered extremely rude. At the end of a match, if the winner is not evidently clear, the announcer may ask for an audience vote. At this time it is quite acceptable to begin a chant for your favorite robot to any degree of loudness you wish. When the announcer calls out your favorite robot's name you are encouraged to make as much noise by whatever means you can, including, but not limited to, whistling, shouting, screaming, clapping of hands, etc. When the announcer calls out your non- favored robot, it is also quite acceptable to do anything short of attempting to throw disgusting objects into the arena. Cupping the mouth or in any way physically attacking a fellow audience participant who happens not to favor your robot is frowned upon. However, the expellation of bodily gases at this time is quite expected and somewhat admired if accompanied with audio effects. It is a very common practice at such events as these for groups of fans to co-mingle in one area of the stands - fan clubs if you will. My personal suggestion is to stay as far away from these groups as possible for the simple reason that these groups become the unfortunate targets of rival fan clubs and the resulting mayhem and violence amongst these groups tends to spoil the event for all the innocent victims in the immediate vicinity. If you do find yourself adjacent to one of these groups, be careful not to cheer too loudly against their robot. Just bite your tongue and be polite. Audience heckling of the announcer is an topic still under social debate. Although sometimes embarassing, I have on occasion participated in this activity and have found it quite enjoyable. Using discretion would be the best advice here.
Interaction with the Robot Builders -
In most events of this type, participating audience members have the opportunity to view many of the competitor's robots and builders up close and personal. In general the builders don't particularly mind this audience-builder interaction, because it gives the builders an opportunity to find prospective rich sponsors. However, there are a few words of caution I must impart to you on this subject. First of all, it is a well known and documented fact that the vast majority of these robot builders are on prescription drugs like Prozac, for manic or violent behavior. In many cases, if they become over-tired or over-stressed they can turn from a seemingly bright, friendly person into a violent, ruthless aggressor. So, be careful of the kinds of questions you ask builders. For instance, do NOT ask any builder about his robot's motors. This is an EXTREMELY sensitive subject and may cause them to "snap" and attack you and/or your children. Questions that are quite acceptable are "How much ya got into this baby?" or "How long it take ya to build this baby?" or "Where's the damn bathroom, baby?" One other thing regarding audience-builder interaction. Do not touch a competitor's robot. Many of these robots have complex and extremely dangerous weapons which can do severe damage to a human body. Plus you may get your hand slapped by a builder. And one last thing - if a builder attempts to bribe you in any way for votes during his/her matches, you should report the incident immediately to the event organizers, as this type of activity is very seriously frowned upon - with the possible exception of the bribing of audience participants with giveaway promotional items.
In summary, let me just say that you, as a participating audience member, have a huge responsibility. You must be prepared to vote and cheer at precisely the right times to fairly judge these robots on their merits and competitive abilities. And remember this always - safety first! Good luck and have a great time.