The Spirit Award - What Is Its Value?

What does the Team Spirit Award mean to you and to your team? Is it valued? Is it important? How does that impact the team experience? Why do you think FIRST would have a Team Spirit Award? (Please share photos if you would like… not huge photos, reasonably-sized photos.)

Yup, a lot of questions. :slight_smile:


Spirit used to be just cheering on our team, while they were on the field at Regionals. That was 6 or 7 years ago.

Now we are much more spirited about FIRST and the entire Regional. It is an energy that the Regional generates to make a competitive, yet fun atmosphere. It is not just about yelling and screaming as loud as you can for your team. This year we won the Spirit Award at Chesapeake and there were many key factors. One was the fact that even though we were not performing well on the field, we made our presense known. We got up and did the dances and brought a positive atmosphere to the competition. The real main issue was our work and commitment in the pits. As the snow plagued most of the teams attending the regional we set up and ran a table in the pits that matched teams that needed help with people (students, mentors, and volunteers) that knew the request area of help. For most of the regional we had more people working on other robots than our own; and we had a lot of work to do. I think the final number of teams we helped was 31 teams. That was more than half of the teams there.

I think the Spirit Award is not/should not be given to the team the cheers the best for their robot (that would be hard to judge, typically); but awarded to the team that brings the best atitude and enthusiasm to the Regional. Afterall, this is what makes the Regionals so much fun.

Team Spirit Award sponsored by Chrysler Celebrates extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit through exceptional partnership and teamwork.

IMO the Team Spirit Award is the equivalent of a nontechnical marketing or advertising award. It is with regards to the teams which are most noticeable, which I definitely believe that Team Spirit has an influence if you need to get selected for an alliance. It always helps if other teams can put a name or even better a face to your #.

The partnership and teamwork bit also represents a team that markets themselves well. Think of the [RED] campaign, even though it has an element of good will to it, IMO companies utilize it to market their products, and affect their public image, giving only a small portion of proceeds to the charity. Partnership and teamwork is again a great way to get teams to remember you.

I don’t think very many teams value the Spirit Award more than winning a regional, for example, but I think it’s still a good award to try to work toward. I think it’s an incentive for teams to show not only team spirit, but the spirit of FIRST. Not only cheering on their own teams, but cheering on every team. We all know from experience that it feels good to be appreciated, and cheered for. Everyone wants to do well, and being encouraged by bleachers filled with hyper-active teens can make it all worth while, right?

There is so much to be said about spirit on Team Paragon. In 2004 our team motto became Spiritworks, and it stuck. On the team, spirit serves as a hook. Students see the good time members are having and think it can be a fun place to be. Many students are originally brought in because of their spirit, and then extend their minds to other areas of the team, giving them the technical experience that FIRST is known for. We pride ourselves on a highly spirited team, and devote a lot of time to perfecting our costumes and creating cheers and whatnot. I feel like students need to be given a purpose at a competition, or else they will get bored. Since not many students can be in the pits at once, the rest are left in the stands. We make the most of our time by throwing a mini party:) It’s a great way to get students to come out of their shells and just have a good time. FIRST is all about making engineering fun, and growing yourself as a person, and that’s what the Team Spirit Award pushes students to do. I personally am going into my second year being spirit captain, and my fourth in spirit leadership. I always have a blast when I’m doing it, and my competative edge makes me just a bit louder. In the community, my teammates and I always call attention to the team by breaking out in cheers, or simply wearing our obnoxiously bright shirts. This helps spread the word of FIRST, which isd such an important part of outreach. For me though, the good time makes it worth the effort and the stress of build season. It puts a cushion on the heat of competition.

Our team very much values the Spirit award.
We practice cheers at the beginning and the end of every meeting and because of that we have won the award several times.
We assign a Prince or (more likely) a Princess of Positive Propaganda every year to lead our team in spirit every year. And they take their job very seriously.
Our spirit leader this year was devastated when we didn’t win the spirit award at FLR. It took her a week to cheer up.

I wish they would expand the definition of the spirit award from more than one sentence. I have been to a few different regionals and it seems each regionals judges take the definition differently. One regional its the team with the most enthusiasm per student, another its the loudest, and another its the team that best acts in the spirit of FIRST.

That being said, my team really values the spirit award as an important award that involves every member of the team. Most of the other awards specifically designate certain members of the team to help go for the award(at least how we plan for them) where as each member of the team has to be involved in this award, along with imagery, EI and chairman’s. I think this award should be given to the team that is having the most fun. My FLL team i was on back in 7th grade won three spirit awards, including the New Hampshire state one, and i believe it was because we were just having a blast from the moment we walked in, til the moment we left(well and chanting 666, our team number, made us laugh for all the wrong reasons).

If you want to see team spirit and what it is about, take a look at 2771. Not only do they webcast every Michigan District, they also help tear down (and I believe set up) the fields. In addition, they are up cheering in the stands. They don’t seem to care who they’re cheering for, in a match at nationals vs. us they started cheering FOR us, and even started a chant for our team number, so we returned the favor.

Always gracious, always professional, always a pleasure to be around and helpful as all heck.

Thank you, Tom. Hey, who wouldn’t want to cheer for the Fighting Pi?

Our students recognize that they’ve been given great opportunities with FIRST and seek to have a positive impact on the community. Besides, once the students have designed, built, programmed and debugged a robot, it’s time to celebrate!

In the interest of providing balanced feedback, here goes:

Team 114 does not value the spirit award. Instead, our students are spread thin enough to spend their regional keeping the robot running, and improving our gameplay. The only ones cheering are the mentors on the sidelines, and the parents in the stands.

I have a feeling if we had more students we would begin to pay attention to spirit. Until that day, keeping that robot running is enough of a challenge for them.

The Spirit Award is awesome. Spirit was a very big part of my experience in FIRST when I was a student. Cheering, dancing, spreading wacky spirit in the pit…it was something that I could contribute to, considering my limited technical skills at the time. Spirit was something very present in the culture of the team, both at the events and at our meetings. We wouldn’t always have the best robot, but we could give you a run for your money in the spirit department. :stuck_out_tongue:

It’s already been said, but I agree that spirit is more than just being loud for your team, it’s about the overall enthusiasm you bring to the competition and beyond. I think this is what FIRST was originally looking for when they created this award. Sometimes it’s a bit disappointing to see a team with a great robot, great business plan, but absolutely zero enthusiasm because to some, the Spirit Award is just not that important. I think they’re missing out on all the fun.

And it’s not just about cheering for your own team, it’s more about cheering for FIRST. The events are not just a competition, but a celebration of 6 weeks of hard work. Have fun, regardless if there’s an award in it for you or not.

Imagine for a moment going to a sporting event with silence in the stands.
Doesn’t sound to exciting, does it?

Our team highly values our spirit awards. I wasn’t around when we won our first one in 2007, but I know that every member on the team this year is proud of the two that we brought home. We still haven’t quite gotten the hang of building championship-grade robots (but we’re improving!), but we’ve mastered the spirit and image end. We ended Detroit 1-9-2, but we were still proud of our robot, drive team, pit crew, and everyone in the venue. Cheering, dancing, and being spirited was our way of showing that pride. Even when we’re cheering loud and proud for our 38th-out-of-38 robot. I feel like my team has really shown that FIRST really, really, really, REALLY, isn’t just about the robot, or performance on the field, but about the work that gets put into the team, during the 6 weeks and beyond. I feel like the spirit award exists because without it (or other non-technical awards, for that matter), there’s no celebration of all of the effort that teams put into their season. With no award, I’m sure that the arena would still be filled with cheering and dancing and loud music, but it wouldn’t be emphasized. I’m not one who believes that doing things solely for the sake of winning an award is a good thing (I don’t agree with that at all), but I’m sure that “WE’VE GOT SPIRIT, YES WE DO, WE’VE GOT SPIRIT, HOW 'BOUT YOU?!” wouldn’t exist if a team hadn’t been trying for that award.

Is the award perhaps a way of providing an opportunity for teams to channel their enthusiasm, sense of community, pride, and excitement into recognition and achievement? Is it perhaps an opportunity for the teams to brand themselves with their identities that they have decided upon, creating lasting images and memories? Could it provide an opportunity to dig a little deeper into the team development and experiences? Or - is it just about making noise?

I know - more questions. :slight_smile:


Spirit is all a part of getting other people involved and excited about science and technology! our team has never won a spirit award, but at our last competition team Paragon presented us with their unofficial spirit award “the paragon of spirit” award
our team was so proud and excited, they cheered even LOUDER! It just ties everybody in with the team and the robot. Spirit is so important. Coming from a member of a team that usually doesnt have much spirit, I can honestly say that were a better team when we have spirit. The robot gets fixed faster, everybodies happier. Its the factor that changes FIRST from some nerdy robot making type thing to something everybody can relate to.

I believe that the original purpose of this award was to provide an avenue for team members not directly involved with the robot specifically to get more involved in the overall competition. There are other awards that reflect this as well; Entrepreneurship, Website & Animation are 3 that come to mind quickly. In many cases the students responsible for the team winning these awards have nothing to do with the robot itself. They may have no interest at all in engineering or science or math and instead are looking at careers in marketing, graphic design or ???.

I have always thought this was one of the unique things about FIRST - creating an environment where students with many varied interests can work together. Students who in the past may not have even socialized with each other end up working side by side and sometimes end up friends. Breaking down the old social tiers or “caste” system that exists in school is one of the best things IMHO about FIRST.

In High School, College and professional sports there are the Fans of the teams, cheering on their favorites season afer season. Costumes , painted faces, Mascots, special cheers and yes - lots of noise. All in an effort to help their team to victory.

Well why not have fans cheering on their teams in a robotics competition too! It all adds to the overall experience.

This post shows off the value I see in the Team Spirit Award:

and for those who tl;dr - Our team was going though massive issues with staying together as a team, it wasn’t until a regional we got together, and the award called us a “Team”.

I see those items as being part of the Imagery Award.

Or - is it just about making noise?
Unfortunately, sometimes it is. I don’t mean to cause any offense to any team that makes an effort to win the Spirit Award. But long ago my daughter’s FLL team scoffed at the Spirit Award as the “rah-rah” award. They wanted to compete for a “real” award. They wanted the judges to recognize their efforts in design, teamwork, programming, research - something that had to do with the program, not how much noise you could make. Now I admit FLL awards are different than FRC, because some awards count toward advancement and others don’t; spirit is one of those that don’t count.

The listing for the FRC award:

Team Spirit Award sponsored by Chrysler
Celebrates extraordinary enthusiasm and spirit through exceptional partnership and teamwork.

And for FLL:

Team Spirit Award
Some teams really know how to have fun. This award goes to the team that most enthusiastically demonstrates a commitment to getting others to see how accessible, fun, and rewarding science and technology can be, especially when you are part of a great team.

There is a little bit of difference - FRC mentions partnership and teamwork. So maybe my impressions are wrong about “rah-rah”.

I typically do too. But -apparently some judges do actually count that towards the Spirit Award. Our yellow diamond image and a bit of our team image history was mentioned in the award script for us at Detroit this year - something like “they’ve come a long way from their rabid squirrel days”. I remember explaining that part of our history to a set of judges. Just goes to show how much those awesome people in the blue polos really collaborate, I guess, and how everything your team does has an effect on every award.

I’ve typically seen Team Spirit in the same way, but the two times we have won Spirit, the explanation for the award was actually not related to cheering at all. At the NJ regional in 09, we were awarded Team Spirit for our dedication to partnerships and teamwork through the East West Collaboration Project and also our commitment to FLL. We were a bit confused as to why this didn’t come in the form of at least a judge’s award, but after some thought I agreed with the judges about it going along with the spirit award’s description of teamwork and partnerships. I have to be really honest here, I hate it when teams try to be loud and cheer because they think that will win Spirit. We don’t “try” for awards like this, its just something that happens in the course of the competition.

The other prime example is our win of the Spirit award in Palmetto 04. Direct quote from an old post about the award- “The reason that they were brought up here for the “Team Spirt Award” the annoucer talked about all the hardships the team went through and how they still were able to show “gracious professionalism”.” The 04 team endured a lot of hardships according to the judges and then went on to win the regional.

All in all, if judges and teams think this award is truly just about cheering and being loud, then they’re really missing the point of true team spirit. No offense to anyone, but I personally sort of frown upon teams who are just loud and sometimes obnoxious and think this will win Spirit awards, especially when all they do is try to go for awards like Spirit and Safety. Overall, I only value the award when it is outstanding effort recognized by the judges, not flailing around some pompoms and cheering being the only thing you do.

(We never “try” for spirit, but we’ll sure as heck always be one of the loudest and cheerful teams at the event; not for some award, but because we always support our team’s efforts on and off the field no matter the outlook or the outcome).

(The above opinions are mine and mine alone, not entirely those of any of the teams I’m associated with).