Robot competitions in the US tend to be about winning while knowledge transfer often takes a backseat, if it happens at all. Of course the smaller local robot clubs and education focused organizations make learning and improving the art a priority. But many of the US competitions appear to offer minimal opportunities for sharing and spreading know-how.
In the UK, and to a large extent in Japan, the situation is almost the reverse. Competitions take place, winners are honored, and trophies are carted home, but more time is spent on sharing learning between the attendees than battling it out in the ring or competition field.
A good example is the MINOS Micromouse Event held regularly in the UK. MINOS 2010, which took place last weekend, featured numerous presentations by expert competitors, including micromouse legends like Dave Otten, Peter Harrison, and Duncan Louttit, just to name a few. They delivered presentations on subjects as varied as "Robot friendly Arduinos", "Shiny Walls and accelerometer progress", "DC motors and encoderless odometry", "Power supplies", "Tuning the maze solver", and others. And, they've made their presentations available online, with few exceptions.
We'd like to see more competitions adopt this type of format in addition to the battles and head-to-head events. It's really critical if we want to attract more people to the sport and hobby of robotics.