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Yesterday was arguably the biggest day of the year for the FIRST Robotics Competition – the Kickoff. Before the kickoff, only a handful of people in the world have any idea what the year’s game will be. During the kickoff, tens of thousands of people become aware, more or less simultaneously, of what the game is. Unless you live in or around Seattle, Washington. This is because the organizers of the Seattle Remote Kickoff decided to tape delay the most precious information available to any FIRST team – first by three hours:

In an effort to work with teams that need to travel to get to Seattle (not to mention those that hate 6AM wakes ups) We are planning on a tape delay of the kick off. We are planning on starting the Tape at 10:15-10:30 am at Roosevelt. This will allow a relaxed time for us to watch opening events and learn about the game. Expect tape to be done between 1 and 1:30.

Of course, they didn’t tell us this until five days before the event, after the TRC already had its entire day scheduled around a 7:00 am kickoff. Sure, the extra hours might be nice from a sleep standpoint, but from a “this is something special” standpoint, it was the wrong move. However, we were able to adjust to this unexpected event, and we rearranged the day, albeit shorted by 3 hours, around the new schedule. But then it got worse… On the day of the event, we recieved the following communication:

Not sure what it looks like out your window but I have snow in Belfair and in Tacoma. Just spoke with Eric Muhs. Rather than risk life and limb we thought a 12 noon start time would be better for all involved. So teh update is Kickoff (kit pick up) is at Noon Sat at Roosevelt.

Remember, this is the day of. We have made some significant stides in terms of communication among club members, but there is no way we could inform everyone who was planning on coming – much less know who exactly was planning on coming – of the new delay. Besides, the email seemed to say that the kickoff was now only “kit pick up” – as in, the video would not be shown. So, Amy met the arriving students at the school and told them to return at 2:00, when Brad would be around (he would have been around at noon, except for the initial delay at the start of the week). I made it there late, as I actually had some snow at my house. But according to a friend in Tacoma, there was none in Tacoma, and there was nothing significant lower down in Bellevue or in any of Seattle. In short, the delay was unneccesary as well as a terrible idea – last minute changes to events where more than 200 people are expected to attend – not such a good idea I think.

But, back to the story – I went to pick up the kit at noon – a process that went smoothly enough – but it turns out that they were showing the video. And all of our students weren’t scheduled to be anywhere until 2:00. So, we just picked up the kit of parts and high-tailed out of there, assembled a few things back in Larry’s garage, then headed to the School were we showed the kickoff to the students by way of a DVD Larry burned from his home theater recording of the kickoff. It was considerably better quality than the webcast I watched, which was nice.

After the movie, we began talking about strategy (as opposed to robot design, which is something else entirely). I think we will mostly be keeping our strategy to ourselves. As much as we love all the other FIRST teams, we tend to be kinda exclusive when it comes to these things. I don’t know why exactly, but it seems to be a tradition now… kinda fun actually :-).

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