tldr; FRC doesn’t need to be viewed by all audiences to change culture and making it more like a conventional spectator sport (in having the same rules every year) takes away what what we (at least I) love about FRC.
btw, not trying to sound like “my FRC” is being threatened, cause I don’t think it is - just musing
A couple months ago the announcement for FIRST’s 2021 theme, Game Changers, came out. It seemed to be the consensus that FIRST might be ditching the medieval, steampunk, 8-bit, and scifi themes to go for something with a more mass market appeal - that’s all cool with me, though I did really like those themes.
At the time, it was also suggested (if my memory serves) was that FIRST could use the Infinite Recharge replay as an opportunity to transition to games that are similar year to year so that a wider audience can watch and appreciate what is going on without having to learn new rules every year. (I don’t necessarily think this will happen but it was discussed). I think the main argument was that if FIRST wants “To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated…” they could do this by selling FRC as a spectator sport for the masses and in that way get STEM a little more love from the general populace.
While working on our team manual I was looking at FIRST’s vision statement and that brought the discussion into the front of my mind. This had been brewing in my head for some time and I decided to post it here: I think the most effective way for FIRST to change culture is to have a team at every school - something Dean has already expressed is a goal of his. Simply put, the best way to change the world’s mind set (in my potentially naive belief) is by starting with the kids. If there is a team in every (or even a lot) of schools and each team participates in outreach and represents FIRST’s goals I think the culture change part is pretty well covered.
In the discussion about what it would take to make FRC a televised, a couple of points came up. 1) FRC would probably have to become more restricted to raise the level of play (even quals at champs can sometimes not be that impressive to watch), and 2), if you are only a causal spectator (not an active member of a team) it takes a bit of effort to fully understand the ever changing rules and so the rules would likely have to remain mostly static year to year.
I think doing those things would really hurt FRC. Firstly, making FRC more restricted would go against the goal of having a FIRST team at every school. Secondly, a fresh challenge every is what makes a lot of us love FRC. Members of our team were more upset to learn that they wouldn’t get a new design challenge in 2021 than they were to learn we wouldn’t get to complete this year (yes, covid will disrupt 2021 too - but that’s besides the point). Doing something new each year is what makes some people tick.
Maybe FRC isn’t the program for the masses, maybe a totally new program can televised, maybe Princess Bride is the best movie in existence (it is) - that’s not really what I’m getting at. IMO, culture change doesn’t require a Robotics Cable Network and totally new robots every year is what’s kept me coming back to FRC.
Just thinking. If one person reads this I’ll call it a success.
PS. Am a 2020 grad so GL next year and I hope you all get as much of a season as possble.