Clowns or Announcers?

Watching a few regionals online today and I’ve got to wonder what some of the announcers/MCs are thinking in putting their costumes together.

I have nothing against the occasional Hawaiian shirt, sports jersey, or colored hair. It’s all part of the spirit of the event, but I’m seeing one guy in a Silver Lab Coat, a big floppy hat, silly sunglasses, pants rolled up to show his colorful knee-socks and purple canvas sneakers. He’d feel right at home with Barnum & Bailey.

And that’s just one example.

This strikes me as a little condescending to our kids. Do they really think this is what they want to see at a competition? Our teams are made up of High School aged kids, young adults, not children. They are world-wise and sophisticated in 2010 and I doubt that they are impressed by such theatrics.

The best announcers are those with a real personality, not one they pull out of their closet. They know the FIRST program and the teams and share that knowledge with the audience as they do their job.

Am I the only one that feels slightly put off by the clown suits or is that really what everyone wants? Or is it just a case of some adults once again completely out of touch with young people?

Being an annoucer for FIRST since 2006, I can say that at each competition I wear a different Hawaiian shirt, as well as spray paint my hair different colors.

Also, some differentiation has to be made from MC’s and announcers. An announcer should be heard and not seen, so my dressing up is purely for my benefit and to make some of the volunteers smile.

The MC’s on the other hand, are a completely different story. They are the face of the regional, and are meant to stand out to the crowd. Often times this involves wearing jewelery, a Hawaiian shirt or painting their hair.

Some of the things that you are describing could be coming from the teams themselves. Some teams don’t have flags or banners to wear around, so they might give the MC a cape, a hat or the like. If that is the case the MC is simply doing to to give the teams some spirit. If they are wearing the things that you described out of their own ambition, then that is their flair they are trying to add to the competition.

However, I can’t speak for all announcers or MC’s in the organization. But it isn’t an easy thing to keep an audience entertained for 2 days worth of competition.

I wasn’t sure of the correct term. If the announcer is the guy behind the scenes, then I am talking about the MC.

The MC’s on the other hand, are a completely different story. They are the face of the regional, and are meant to stand out to the crowd. Often times this involves wearing jewelery, a Hawaiian shirt or painting their hair.

Some of the things that you are describing could be coming from the teams themselves. Some teams don’t have flags or banners to wear around, so they might give the MC a cape, a hat or the like. If that is the case the MC is simply doing to to give the teams some spirit. If they are wearing the things that you described out of their own ambition, then that is their flair they are trying to add to the competition.

However, I can’t speak for all announcers or MC’s in the organization. But it isn’t an easy thing to keep an audience entertained for 2 days worth of competition.

No, I’m not talking about the hats and flags that teams bring out. And, again, I have nothing against the shirt/hair color, just going too over the top with it all. There’s a point where it stops being a display of spirit and becomes a costume used to attract attention. It’s demeaning to our students to imply that we need a clownish figure to keep their attention.

We have some great announcers and MCs who entertain and educate while doing their jobs, regardless of what they wear. I know a few whose knowledge of the teams and the game can only be described as encyclopedic. That’s what I enjoy.

The MC at Chesapeake put himself through college as a professional clown.

Wetzel

Are you serious?

We have some great announcers and MCs who entertain and educate while doing their jobs, regardless of what they wear.

This is perhaps the most pertinent point you made in your argument. Relax and let them have some fun.

I am far beyond high school, and I am indeed impressed by such theatrics. I know that my students enjoy it too. I’ve seen more than a few very reserved kids come out of their shells in response to the zany antics in front of them on the field.

So far I’m only seeing one such adult.

Personally, there is a certain aspect of being fun and having a good time and remaining professional. I don’t see emcees at FLL events get all decked out like some FRC emcees do.

its what a volunteer wants to do. its not illegal or dangerous in any way. Whats the problem?

Often times at FTC and FLL events the MC keeps it low key because there is so much going on that there is little down time. With 6-10 tables at a typical competition, there is usually action continuously.

However, at FRC regionals/championships, there is a LOT of downtime between the matches, and as such the MC has to ramp it up a few levels otherwise it would just be the audience sitting back watching a person in another volunteer shirt.

I guess that it is all one perception. I am one who wears colorful shirts and hair to match. I also do the exact same thing at FLL, FTC and VEX events. I don’t do it because I want to be noticed (but I do get noticed) but rather to give the kids a little fun. Mine started with team 48 wanting to do my hair at Championships and just “flourished” from there. At most FIRST events when I don’t do my hair then I can go virtually unrecognized for a long time.

The benefits of coloring hair brings a lot of questions especially when I am not at the arena. It gives me the chance to promote the event. At the event people seem to know that they can ask me questions and I will find the answers. When touring the pits I can be found by anyone looking for me.

I guess there is a limit but I have worn pink ears and pig tail at the same time as some fairy wings so I am not sure were that limit is. As an EMCEE my goal is to make teams feel good about themselves and promote them as much as I can. Would I come to an event like a clown? No but a parrot on steroids, maybe.

Its all fun, I mean if there is a problem with the field, someones gotta entertain the crowd since they can last 5, 10, sometimes 15 mins. Plus after MCing for 3 days they gotta keep it interesting for them-selfs.

^ (Well said.)

One measure of the inspiration that FIRST generates is the curious fact that, during the delays brought on by technical difficulties, team members of all ages frequently dance and shout with expressions of joy on their faces. Emcees and game announcers pump that inspiration.

Volunteers who have their heads down working hard to clear a technical problem REALLY appreciate other volunteers who, with their eye-catching attire and engaging vocals, are working just as hard to maintain the energy level.

You mention the teams are made up of high school students, young adults. You are correct.

But FIRST is meant to be more than just for the teams. You realize that there are people in the public? Non-teammates? Young siblings, older parents, etc. I don’t think it’s condescending at all. A little fun never hurt anyone.

Plain and simple, they’re an eyesore that has annoyed me form day one.

You are correct that without the tri-colored hair you are totally unrecognizable, “some” costume and color is fun, maybe some go a bit too far and it ends up looking a bit silly although I have never seen that in Ontario.

I do hope they bring back the mascot dance this year at waterloo and GTR, they had that back in Aim high and it was great video for TV and now that we are back on carpet why not?

Hopefully the DJ plays all the right music to keep the crowd energized and on it’s feet as well this year as well.

What specifically has annoyed you?

There are teams in FRC who spend a lot of time helping to create a team image of fun and excitement during the competitions. They spike their hair and color it. Some have wonderful ‘costumes’ to enhance their image. The emcees understand and help celebrate the spirit of fun at the competitions.They also work very hard to help keep the matches on time and the event running smoothly, and part of what they bring to the event is their showmanship. If they wear a vest or coat covered with buttons that the teams have enthusiastically given them and if they share in the fun and excitement of the event by dressing up and/or coloring their hair, more power to them. For many, an FRC competition is an opportunity to share the joy and the fun of being involved in a robotics event and to celebrate what it took to get there. What it took to get there involved problem solving, learning to be a part of a team working towards a common goal, and meeting a challenge. The emcees are well aware of what it takes to arrive at the field, ready to play. Jubilation and celebration have nothing to do with condescension but they have everything to do with fun. Some of the hardest fun at the competition.

Maybe some day it will change but I hope that day doesn’t come anytime soon.

Jane

Mostly the fact that you need a welding mask to look directly at them most of the time.

The other reason is that I find their act to be extremely unprofessional.

I have been told that I hate fun a time of two before, so quite likely my view is overly pessimistic, I just wish the competitions had a bit more of a serious air.

I’ve found that the competitions are quite serious. A quick check in the pits or on a driver’s face during a match will show that. However, the field and the stands should be a fun place to be. It’s a place where everyone is there for the fun and excitement of the event. A lot would be lost from competitions if there wasn’t any dancing or “field entertainment.” That’s what will make your memories.

Or, remember that this is a program targeted towards high schoolers and we like to have fun. :smiley: