[split thread] 2022 and Beyond Event Improvement Suggestions

+1 to this, it’s better for people’s hearing and it’s safer to avoid close contact. (I’ve realized over time this last year that I have a much harder time understanding people without lip reading, and adding extra noise around the conversation will probably make it even worse)

Asking for a friend… can we keep the volume down even after we’re done with everyone-in-the-venue-masking? Good god, I know I’m an old woman now but I am tired of my bones rattling from music / arena sounds. When my kids are plugging their ears during endgame in prep for the buzzer, it’s too freaking loud.


The typical event seems louder than my plant where we require hearing protection… We keep a box of disposable earplugs in our pits. The problem with hearing damage is that it is additive and largely non correctable. The sins of the will haunt you in your old age. (or even middle age)

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I’ve been fighting the “can we please turn this down” battle for twenty years, and not just because if I have to hear Cotton Eyed Joe one more time I’m going to brain myself.

Hearing protection while using power tools is part of our team culture–as it should be a part of every team’s culture–and I’ve always gone out of my way to wear earplugs/earmuffs when mowing the lawn, shooting, etc. At 45 my hearing isn’t nearly as good as it was at 25, and while I don’t know how much of that I can attribute to FIRST, the amount is non-zero.

Furthermore, we have a rule in the shop that music is acceptable if and only if it isn’t so loud that people can’t hear what they’re doing. From motors to band saws to gear boxes, it can get awfully tough to identify an obvious problem when you can’t hear the obviosness of it. [I founded and ran a team from the California School for the Deaf at Fremont, and helped found one at the Rochester School for the Deaf, and not being able to hear what’s happening isn’t crippling, but it can lead to problems sometimes. That weird ticking in your drive train will never get diagnosed if you don’t know it’s happening.]

tl;dr, the music at FIRST events is way too loud. Harrumph. Get off my lawn.


I hear Frank has a blog post coming later today. I’m hoping it is to announce a new low volume policy.


Wouldn’t that be nice?

3620 likes the Cotton Eyed Joe, but we realize we are sometimes in the minority. Something about our team name.

We didn’t play music at CHSy Champs this year. I didn’t miss it at all. My wife was shocked that I still had a voice the next day. (I usually lose my voice at every competition). I contribute this to the lack of music.


My son (the one not in FRC) had hearing sensitivities due to autism -still does. Had to stay with him in the locker room until his event at swim meets and remove ear protection before he dove in. Was impossible for him to participate in or attend FRC events his brother lived for. My point is that the typical noise level at FRC events is not only potentially damaging to hearing, but also excludes people.


The very first thing that clued me into the fact that FIRST wasn’t really serious about safety was the music volume at events. I guess it’s not much of a “pro sport” if you’re not rupturing everyone’s eardrums?

I can’t hear my pants over the music.


Seems like this must vary from venue to venue – at the last event I attended, (4.5 million dead people ago), there was music but you could still converse in a normal speaking voice in the stands – so it doesn’t have to be Motörhead Concert loud.

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The thread title and content of the thread seem to be a big tangential to one another (event improvements vs. purely a discussion on music/volume), so I’ll do my best to answer both.

In terms of music at events - I enjoy it. One of the defining attributes of FRC events has always been the atmosphere. Find any news article on a regional or district, and you’ll find mentions of the “homecoming game atmosphere,” excitement, or similar language. For better or worse, noise is simply part of what sets FRC apart from other “science fair”-like activities. It’s a large part of what gives it the sports-like atmosphere.

That’s not to say that reasonable accommodations and common sense fixes can’t be applied. Many events can definitely do a better job of how they manage volumes. Stop pointing speakers at the queueing and driver station areas, reduce/eliminate volume in the pit area, actually have the DJ/AV crew positioned where their key audience is (the crowd) rather than by the scoring table to better manage volume (a principle that “sound guys” at concert venues have long understood), and make free earplugs available to those who wish to reduce the volume even further.

More broadly speaking, I would love to see FIRST and event organizers use some of the COVID safety protocols as an opportunity to re-examine some of the norms we’ve come to expect at events. What processes can be modernized or improved upon? This moment in time is presenting us with an opportunity to re-examine what an FRC event looks like and operates.

I’m sure there will be plenty of other discussions regarding one-day events, so I won’t hash that out here.

But there are tons of process improvements that can be applied across a wide variety of events.

  • What volunteer roles can be filled remotely, and which should stay remote after COVID?
  • What portions of the inspection process can be completed before teams even walk through the door of the venue?
  • Would allowing teams a more defined judging interview window, perhaps remotely, be a more beneficial judging experience than just catching whoever is in the pit when the judges wander by?
  • What kind of webcast experience(s) is required to cater to the various audiences (not just FRC enthusiasts/scouts) when we have reduced attendance limits, and should it stick around after COVID?
  • What can we do to support remote scouting efforts for attendance limited events, and should those efforts be extended after COVID?
  • How do we best enable remote communication between teams and their supporters they left behind at attendance limited events, especially in venues that are cell reception tombs?
  • How can we encourage social distancing in close-proximity activities/areas such as the driver station, scoring table, question box, team queueing, etc. without sacrificing the quality of those areas?
  • How can we streamline field reset and minimize cross-contact of game pieces/field elements between different teams and volunteers over the course of an event?
  • At what rate should we be cycling in new game pieces?

As a team with fewer than ten students in any given year, this has always been an issue for us–typically if the drive team isn’t in the pits, no one is, and if the drive team is in the pits, they’re busy prepping for the next match. My kids rarely get the chance to actually talk to the judges.


tfw you have 5 students and the UL safety judges approach you like Jehovah’s Witnesses at the pit:

Alternatively, when drive team is also the chairman’s presenters.