Shadows in the Void
Bandit Ball is the a competitive team sport that boasts the largest sports audience in known space.
The sport evolved out of a multitude of team sports originating on Earth. It also contains aspects of “survival game-shows”, specifically the mechanic of eliminating athletes through various methods, including competitor voting, audience voting, or finishing in last place in an event.
Bandit Ball features a staggering array of rules, adapted from many historical team sports. However, the specific competition rules of each “match” are unique and vary. This is ensured because game mechanics are individually generated prior to each match by dedicated computers containing the Bandit Ball software.
These computers will randomly mix-and-match various rules from widely divergent sports to maximize challenge to the athletes and viewer entertainment.
For example, an event may take place on a soccer field, and the way to score points is to place the ball in the soccer net. Players may only move and pass the ball using lacrosse sticks. However, in order to score players must pass to a player armed with a tennis racket, who then will volley the ball into the net.
Because of the inherent randomness of rules, it is impossible to be comprehensive or consistent in describing a full match. However, there tend to be some constant themes in Bandit Ball.
-Team size is randomly chosen, but teams tend to be between 5 and 15 members. (competing teams begin at equal strength, but players can be eliminated)
-A game will be split into separate “events” (similar to the ancient sport of Decathlon) with each event lasting between 2 and 30 minutes. A typical game can have between 5 and 20 events.
-The number of players allowed to play will vary between events, extra players will sit on the bench, but substitutions are allowed.
-Rules for each event are revealed 1 minute before play starts. (viewers seem to enjoy the confusion this provokes in competitors)
-In many events, teams may “steal” points from the opposing team. Alternatively, teams sometimes earn the right to “lock out” the opponents from scoring until they complete a “road-block” quest to earn the right to score again.
-A match may involve between 2 and 8 competing teams.
Social and Sport commentators have posited several reasons for this sport’s popularity compared to “traditional” sports. One possible reason is the tough competition conditions often lead to players making mistakes through confusion, which viewers seem to enjoy. Another possibility is the tendency for games to have rapid changes in events, featuring rapid scoring. According to this theory, viewers enjoy the possibility that any team’s luck may change, and a team with an apparently insurmountable lead may lose their star player, or have their points stolen by the underdog.
The social psychologist Evraham Galt has stated that the popularity of Bandit Ball is a reaction to the societal angst of living in a universe populated by creatures more powerful than humans; creatures that may often be hostile towards humanity. According to this analysis, Bandit Ball serves to subconsciously deliver the message that humans can adapt to ever changing rules, and rely on cooperation to out-compete non-human supernaturals.