Recycle Rush reminiscent of FIRST Lego League

Is it just me, or does this year’s Recycle Rush game feel like a large scale FIRST Lego League (FLL) competition? The lack of interaction between opposing alliances, the fact there is no attention given to a team’s win/loss ratio, it is just a scoring race than an actual competition. Even the totes are like big LEGO bricks. It will certainly make cheering during a match awkward, since you cannot even know if a team is ‘winning,’ even if winning mattered during a match. I wonder if FIRST will begin to always take this approach with there games, or if this is just a one time thing for the FIRST Robotics Competition. It certainly would be interesting to see an FLL model continue with FRC or begin with the FIRST Vex Challenge.

Any thoughts? Yays, nays? Future of FIRST?

Check out this thread. I think that they are right…

I noticed too that it’s a bit like FLL, but it’s actually getting back to the older style FRC around the turn of this century.

Another thing I noticed is that it’s the first time boxes (totes) have been stacked since 2003 Stack Attack, which incidentally, was when autonomous mode was introduced. And this year, the autonomous mode is very ambitious, requiring robot cooperation (to get a yellow tote stack in 15 seconds). I like it. I don’t know if this is the future of FRC, but probably not. FIRST is trying different things, and this is a refreshing change after the attempts at sports game type excitement.

I have to admit that hearing the term “older style FRC around the turn of this century” made me feel pretty old.

Not a big fan of the change this year. The technical challenge - stacking boxes - makes sense. The lack of competition I think will likely make the matches quite boring and will be pretty discouraging to many students.

I will preface my remarks by saying that my initial reaction was not too positive about the game, and I still think it will be less than successful at engaging a wider audience. The last three years have all been games that most people could walk in and watch and get a quick sense of excitement while understanding basically what was going on. (I realize that not all of the nuances of scoring would be understandable, but hey, many Americans still don’t understand a rule as simple as off sides in soccer.) I might be wrong but I think this game will be underwhelming to watch.

That said, a couple of thoughts to keep things in perspective. The first is that as soon as we started talking about best strategies, and a little about drive trains and mechanisms, it felt like build season. Exciting and, at this early stage, boundless optimism. And I remembered that most of the fun each year comes before we head off to competition.

The second is that, as a coach of some other sports that are less than successful at engaging a wider audience (cross country, track and field) that I need to look at this in a different competition mind set. This is more like gymnastics, diving or field events (long jump, pole vault, shot put, etc…) in terms of competition. Where you are competing somewhat “in a vacuum” and winning is determined by the best score or set of scores. It’s not what a lot of us think of first when we think of sports, but still a sport.

The third though is that my programming team is excited about the challenge. And this is a year where automated processes, not just autonomous period, will likely play a huge role in the outcome. I think that a lot what students get out of the season will depend on the reactions and actions of mentors. So mentors, keep that in mind. I have had FRC, Track and CC seasons that ended up being disappointing to me personally relative to my expectations before hand. But I always try to remember that the kids need and deserve my best no matter what.

So even if this is more like FLL than suits my tastes, I still think I will have a really good time this season. I had a great time last season in a game many people said they hated. I had an even better time the year before in a game that almost everyone seemed to love. And a great time the year before that. Seriously, even with an overall not so positive reaction right now, I still feel better than this point in Lunacy. And I had a great time then too. Hmm… is that a pattern emerging?

This is our teams 4th year. In the previous three the game was some version of getting a game and throwing it in a goal with some added dimension (bridges, pyramid, assists). I like that this isn’t a " how many cycles can you get/drivetrain power struggle" type of game. I think stacking is a nice change of pace. However I do see how it could be less interesting to spectators. But there are going to be some good parts: big stacks falling over, dramatic balancing, a barrage of pool noodles, and some cool autonomously stuff.

There is also a sort of, probably coincidental, thematic tie-in. Next year’s FLL theme is Trash Trek, and will be talking all about recycling and disposal.

Apparently it’s not so simple

Also some American Football umpires don’t understand Pass Interference… (too soon?)

Nice. Too soon probably depends on whether you like/hate the Cowboys (it seems like those are the only choices when it comes to the Cowboys) or like the Lions.

As for the off sides rule, there are definitely a lot of subtleties, but even the most basic “in offside position when the ball is played” is beyond some. I think here I am channeling some angst from coaching my son’s youth soccer team.

It’s offside, not offsides. And it’s a Law, not a rule (except for high school). Most people don’t even understand the name, let alone how it works.

OK, I acknowledge my bad grammar usage, for which I apologize.

As for the law versus rule thing, I would argue strenuously that they mean the same thing. But if you don’t agree, well then I would say in soccer, which I referenced, it’s a rule. In Association Football it’s a law. And I still say that it is maddeningly frustrating how many people don’t understand what being in offside position means.

Bob, you’re not old, just well-traveled.

I think that is a glorious turn of phrase.

I apologize for indirectly causing people to feel old and heating up that old Football v. Futball rivalry XD

No apology necessary. I am old.

AND I used to be a Collegiate Soccer Referee… I won’t get into that exchange.

The soccer reference oddly enough popped into my head because I was watching my daughter’s dry land practice for diving (it is so much fun watching kids do general strength exercises), and since we just got back from break my usual task of grading was not available. So I was doodling in my notebook about the referee training I will be leading in a couple of weeks for youth soccer referees. One of the specific things we always talk about is how to explain offside to the kids and to their parents. The latter is harder than getting 50 FIRST Robotics team members to be quiet and listen at the same time.