Announcers commenting on the game

Should announcers be allowed to play by play comment on a live match? I know they are trying to let the spectators know what’s going on but calling out what the teams are doing, sometimes even pointing out a teams strategy, explaining the rules, calling out the clock, calling violations, is not something that I believe should be allowed.

Is this from personal experience? Because unless you outright tell the announcer they shouldn’t know your strategy unless it’s obvious.

Even then, from personal driver experience, I’m way too focused on the match to even pay attention to what they’re saying. I actually think them calling the clock out and explaining rules is perfectly fine if they are doing it right, e.g. if they call 30 seconds left if the match just started.

If you really have that much of a problem with the announcers, simply ask the announcer to avoid talking about your robot.


Emcees are an integral part of tournaments. From your list, much is permitted, only thing I would caution is calling violations - that is Head Referee territory.


This is tricky, and a legitimate concern. Good commentary is not guaranteed, but matches free of external input are.

  • Commentary should react to ref calls, and reiterate them to the crowd, instead of attempting to make any original claims.
  • Commentary should not identify strategic solutions/options before or during the match, but can definitely discuss them afterwards, including swapping to a delayed replay of the match after it ends to provide the audience with insights and observations.
  • Booth Commentary (as opposed to field-side) can be strategic if it is piped out into a stream and not broadcasted to the competitors.
  • There might be room for loudspeaker commentary to include a scorekeeper ref to help prevent violations by warning teams of potential violations.
  • Commentary should not instruct teams as to what to do at different times, but they can react to the 30s alarm and remind the audience of rules associated with the endgame.
  • Commentary should not be overwhelming to competitors, and speakers should be set up to not detract from the in-game experience. This is also true of loud music getting in the way of communication.

What are other thoughts or experiences on the matter?


This is not a legitimate concern in the slightest. This is the equivalent of complaining about a high school basketball emcee giving a play by play of the game. As long as the announcer is giving information about what’s visible to everyone in the match, or information from the game manual (also available to everyone), that’s completely reasonable. It’s also the purpose of having an emcee :slight_smile:


Yes from personal experience. Several times last year but it was the worst at the state tournament. The announcer was standing field side in a large field house. He was trying to talk constantly like a radio play by play announcer would. Commenting on who was ahead. Pointing out when a robot was making some kind of play. He called violations like that robot deployed end game early or blue is pinned. Calling out how much time is left. I don’t think an announcer should be telling the teams what’s going on or commenting on violations that refs may or may not call. The announcer is not a ref.

Think about this from a sport perspective. The announcers don’t know the team’s plans, but they can tell based on what the teams are doing, and experience. Players don’t have to listen to them, and in the NFL I believe some players can have radios to communicate. You don’t have to listen the the emcee. You can talk amongst your team or your alliance partner. Emcees may be inconsistent in their abilities: but again, you don’t have to listen to them.

Pretty much all of those things sound like things an announcer should be doing, with maybe a few caveats, and obviously the actual quality of the commentary is going to vary. To use examples of commentary from last year’s game that I think would be totally fine

“Oh, and red gets another 3 discs in the high goal, they’re starting to take the lead, blue is going to have to pick up the pace to respond!!”
“And blue has one of the two red robots trapped in the corner, excellent defense by blue”
“oh, it looks like the ref is starting to count them for trapping, they can only do this for five seconds before they have to back off”
“OK, blue has backed off and red is back to scoring, red is starting to take a commanding lead”
“OH NO! Red has deployed early, they’ll have to sit out the rest of the match if they can’t find a way to retract, let’s see if blue can take advantage of this to catch up”
“oh man, this is close, it looks like it’s going to come down to endgame, OK it’s the last ten seconds so teams can deploy their endgames now and… oh!!! blue has shot their endgame out of the field, teams aren’t allowed to do that, it looks like this will be a DQ for them, what a shame after that comeback!”

All are perfectly fine things in my opinion. The purpose of an announcer is to explain what’s going on on the field to the people in the stands, many of whom are not as familiar with the rules as competitors are, and also to build excitement. They shouldn’t be making judgement calls, but if something happens that’s a clear rule, or if they appropriately word it with phrases like “it seems like this might be X, but we’ll have to wait for the referees to make the final call” that’s fine, because they’re just trying to provide some context to people watching.

Now if they’re saying “red is pinning blue! 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… DQ!!!” then obviously that’s going too far, or if they say something like “blue is behind now, if they want to win they should have the weaker of their two robots start playing defense on the high scorer for red” or something, also bad. But if they’re just saying things that should be obvious to anybody watching the field up close with a decent grasp of the rules, then it’s well within their role at the event, which is to provide context and excitement for family members in the stands or watching the stream at home.


Most of what you described is actually the role of an emcee. Endgame or pinning calls would be a little borderline, though. On one hand, it’s pretty plain to describe if a string went clearly out of the field. It would be bad to specifically say “X team will be disqualified,” as there may be confusion about which team’s string it was, if it was actually considered out of the field in edge cases, etc. Saying something like, “Team 1 is pushing team 2 into the corner to keep them away from the goal” would be appropriate, saying “Team 1 is trapping team 2 for over 5 seconds!” would obviously be bad as that is the referee’s determination.

Commenting on the flow of the match, e.g. “This is a close one, as red appears to have a high goal advantage while blue has better roller control, but a lot is going to be determined by the endgame” (using last year’s game) would be an example of a great thing for an emcee to say, in my opinion. It calls the audience’s attention to the important factors in the match and what the teams might try to change to pull away with it. You could also comment on the fact that teams will want to jockey for position with how they launch their endgame. If that is going to be a relevant factor in a match, I can guarantee you it is not the first time the teams have thought about doing that, so it’s not like you are giving them strategies… on the very slight chance they are actually listening to you anyway, when they should really be focused on the match. An example of a bad remark would be “red team got absolutely destroyed in that match” or telling one alliance a novel strategy that they should employ. I think it’s absolutely reasonable to make commentary on an alliance’s tendencies and to point out what they key points of the match are going to be for the audience. Examples of this would be if one team wants to get ahead in the autonomous portion of the match and then lock their opponents down, or which robot you would expect to be the primary scorer for the team while the other might be more focused on defense. Ultimately, I think this helps the audience understand the flow of the game a lot better. Bear in mind that there are a lot of parents or grandparents or others who rarely see the game and would just see discs flying across the field and rollers spinning and strings shooting out (again, using last year’s game) and not really know what to make of it. I’m not sure what you expect from an emcee but frankly it sounds quite boring for everyone involved.


These all seem perfectly normal to me. What should an announcer talk about during a match other than the things you listed? Even things like early endgame seem fine to me, as long as he doesn’t explicitly call out penalties. I’d say that if your strategy relies on something that a match spectator or announcer can clearly call out or see, then you should probably get a new strategy.

What other high school competition has an emcee that gives field side play by play commentary as the match is going on?

I think it is worth looking at for the Emcee Guidelines, they also include sample audio from events.


Have you ever been to any sports game ever?


Lol, @1908A has a point, it is not uncommon in competitive sports that the commentator gives a play-by-play. I think that it is good that the Grandmas and Grandpas in the bleachers are able to feel like they know what’s going on, and an emcee just makes the experience more fun for those who are just there to watch kids drive robots around.


This is the answer, Thank you.

From the emcee guide these are the relevant points

  • Refrain from giving directions to the teams about what action they should take next. For example, do not tell a team to come to the corner and move an object into a scoring position.
  • Report factual information. Feel free to describe sounds that you may hear that may not be audible to spectators seated more than a few feet from the field. Avoid comments that could imply a Referee should make a judgement call they have chosen not to make (pinning or trapping are good examples).
  • Describe the action as it occurs. Try not to predict what a team is going to do.

Emcee’s should definately not be pointing out or commenting on violations and in my opinion they should only be describing what’s happening not “commenting” on it. Based on the responses in this thread many people don’t agree with me. That’s ok, I just wanted to have a discussion about it.


"During VRC tournaments, the Emcee provides the play-by-play of the match, engaging the audience with effective color commentary regarding the action on the field. " - The Emcee Guide (REC Library)



Most relevant example to a robotics competition of an mc giving commentary during a match? Possibly where the concept originated from in FRC? Check out YouTube or for examples of matches with commentary.

Calling out violations unless the ref has said so and telling teams what to do is wrong. However, reminding teams of the rules are fine