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  #31   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 03-25-2012, 01:07 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

Quote:
Originally Posted by P.J. View Post
...
I see coaches yelling and screaming and running over to yell at other people all the time.
...
As a former driver and as a coach on two different teams, I don't think this is ungracious to yell. Most drivers get a form of tunnel vision and neglect the rest of the field; actually this is what I tell my drivers to do. Their only focus is our robot and what ever their task is. I take care of the score and strategy changes on the fly. Yes, sometimes this means yelling. However, with teams crowding behind the driver station to cheer and the music and everything else, it gets rather loud on the field. The only way to communicate is to yell. To get a better perspective on the field or an issue, yes I move back and forth between teams and open areas. In my opinion, a good coach has to keep up with their alliance members. You never know when something will break or some other failure. Yes, through scouting we usually have a good understanding of what we 'believe' the other alliance is going to do. However, we are wrong at times; and have to adjust on the fly.

I have a checklist of things to check at different time intervals and make changes depending on those outcomes. Yes I yell! I try not to yell at students other those on my own team. For any other changes, I try to tell their coach. This is for two reasons: 1) I tell my drivers/human player not to listen to anyone other than me. 2) Their coach should know the best way to get their point across.

I give my drive team the same speech before every Regional. The main points are: what happens is going to happen, so you might as well have fun doing it; and I am going to yell, but not because I am mad. I am yelling because I was once a driver and know how tunnel vision works and how loud it gets.

I always end with something positive to our alliance as the alliance is leaving the driver station. If the robot is damaged/broke I always try and offer our assistance to get them back up and running. If I feel like I did upset someone I try and talk to them while be accompanied with their coach/or another mentor.

So I have to say screaming and pacing back and forth is part of the game.
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Unread 03-25-2012, 01:10 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

I can't speak to the specific issue the OP brings up, but want to share an incident that we had in a previous season. I standing off to the side off the pits, involved in a very sensitive personel issue, when a member of a drive team member walked up to me to discuss an upcoming match. He walked into the circle of mentors involved in a discussion that was not appropriate for public consumption. I asked if we could have this discussion in a little while, and that I would head over to their pits for a discussion later. He continued to stand there, until I said, "I'm sorry, but this is a private discussion, and I need you to give us some privacy." He stormed off, and began to tell everyone at the competition that our team was headed up by a bunch of ******. My point is, a single data point does not a trend make. There may be times when a team appears to act "snobbish" or whatever to someone outside of the team, when there maybe some issue that is going on that others are not aware of. The "elite" teams are under the microscope during the whole competition, and those issues may look more magnified than if it occurred by another team. I would encourage teams who expect others act with Gracious Professionalism, that perhaps they may need to show some Grace as well.
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Unread 03-25-2012, 01:31 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

As a drive coach, and someone who can get very emotionally-charged in matches and in the pit at both ends of the spectrum, I go out of my way to moderate myself with other teams. At Virginia, we were allied with a team that was just as good as ours, and ended up losing to us in the quarters, and a team that, bless them, was a brave little toaster.

The coach of the good team was very frustrated with the BLTs, and I knew I was at their late arrival to the competition and their lack of good communication skills, but I didn't let it get to me. If I get frustrated at that team, it's reflecting poorly on a lot more people than myself. I know my drivers looked at the non-BLT team differently for the rest of the day after watching their coach get visibly frustrated.

This year, more than ever, teams need to communicate if they want a snowball's chance in hell of winning all of their matches. Our drivers met with both our teams and our opposing alliance in the pits for every match possible (except for the times FMS had us getting in queue 1 match after we got out...) Personally witnessing great robots lose more than they should have in VA, strategy is key, even if you are playing with the bottom teams in the rankings.

I may be a senior in high school, but I'm the drive coach because the mentors know I'm not going to let other teams give my guys any crap. We all butt our robots together in the same key in the same bumper colors and stand next to each other. We are, for 135 seconds, a team. I don't care if your robot could eat ours for breakfast, or vice-versa. The 12 of us and our 3 robots should be focusing on beating the team on the other side of the glass. This isn't your party, it's everyone's party.

Primary and Secondary drivers live in their own world, as they should. They use some weird in-game telepathy to accomplish what the alliance needs. As a coach, I will be darting up and down the coaches' zone behind the driver boxes to shake other coaches and YELL, yes yell, at them. It gets loud on the field, people. I need your attention to relay vital information. It's not about me, it's about us. Drive coaches are ambassadors to the other teams on the alliance; it's our job to relay information between the coaches to our drivers. I play nice, but I also play to win. Our team believes that the pursuit of winning is the greatest inspiration. I won't judge you for your team's mission if you don't dog on ours.

On another note, I have gone out of my way to not make brash, wild assumptions of an organization of dozens of talented, well-meaning individuals based on one experience. It has yet to disappoint me, at least in the realm of FRC. Even so, keep this in mind: my mentors say that that we aren't tested until we are down for the count on the field, but we are tested, fairly or not, on every square foot of the venue over the weekend. Try to keep that thought stuck on the filter between your brain and your mouth.
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Unread 03-25-2012, 01:47 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

I tell this to everyone I can: the majority of contention and anger come as a result of a mismatch of expectations at a given situation. I mean this for all of life - not just FIRST. For example, if person A expects person B to do something at 4 p.m. and person B expects they're supposed to do it at 4:30. Person A finally gets angry at 4:15 since person isn't doing what they're supposed to do, so A does B's job and gets angry. Then person B gets angry at person A for not allowing them to do what they were supposed to do. They both walk away upset with each other.

My point is that some teams expect certain things (like strategy discussions, how to handle mid-match strategy / interaction changes, etc.) to be done one way, while other teams expect it a different way. If two teams' expectations match, everything is great. If they each have their own way of how they think it's supposed to be handled, then the other team is (insert your negative statement here).

Here are some of my expectations that I have built up over my years of doing FIRST:

- If a team is vying for a top spot in the rankings, they control the strategy discussion during qualification matches. Let them know what makes your robot tick, and what makes it awful (in other words, what make you perform your best, and what really screws you up), but expect the top team to have a plan to give themselves the best chance to keep their top ranking. (We always defer strategy to other teams in this situation, because that's what we expect.)
- Yelling during a match is going to happen. Things are very loud and time is tight. Economy of words is a must. Don't take insult from a yelled, short statement.
- Coaches are going to talk (yell, really - but not in a negative way) at each other during a match. It shouldn't be unexpected for one coach to run to another team's coach and yell "get to the bridge! we need you at the bridge now!!" As I said, strategy changes are going to happen.
- Teams have a lot to do at the event, and not a lot of time to do it. If a team says, "we don't have time right now - let me know where I can meet you", it's not because they're jerks. I'm sure your team has been strapped for time at one point or another as well.
- Some teams like to talk strategy really early. Some teams wait until the queue. Try not to be angry if a team does it differently than what you do.
- Don't bother a team while their robot is on the field (or immediately afterward) unless it's REALLY important.

There are many more, but I can't think right now.


I'm sure many people read this and think what a jerk I am. Probably because they have different expectations than me.
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Last edited by Chris Hibner : 03-25-2012 at 09:22 PM.
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Unread 03-25-2012, 02:24 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

I think Adam has addressed this issue in a very thoughtful and fair manner. I'll echo the statements made by others about Team 67. They're behavior on and off the field has always been impeccable during the interactions I've had with them. Their students in the pit are always open to answer questions or even have random conversations.

As for a robot "ramming" its partner, in this year's game unintentional ramming between partners is going to happen often. There are 4 spots on each side of the playing field that are high traffic zones, and they're all within a tight proximity of each other. I've lost track of the number of times we've been rammed by our partners while setting up our shots in the key. Mildly frustrating, yes. Intentional? Absolutely not. It's just a case of two robots trying to get to two separate destinations, with paths that intersect. With robots moving as fast as they do nowadays, these types of collisions are unavoidable.
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Unread 03-25-2012, 02:51 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

I wonder if these so called "Elite" teams know how they are perceived by every student and mentor in FIRST. And I mean EVERY student and mentor. I'm not going to type here and say that everyone's own opinion on a team they have seen 'talked about' is invalid; I think it's at least arguable to say it is insufficient.

Work with me for a bit - 174, the team I mentor, is having the best statistical year ever so far. And if you go back in our history, you could say we are reaching "High Tier" status. Not in any way reaching the Elite Tier of 1114 or 148 or 217 or 67 (to use examples), but I hope to think that our number and team is getting out there. Then I ask myself - what do I mean by 174 being "out there" in the FIRST public view. How are we perceived I wonder to myself. Are we the annoying team, the high caliber team? Do teams fear to face us, or call us overrated? And while I can go to each of my buddies from other teams and ask, getting mixed results most likely; unless I asked every student in FIRST how 174 stacks up, I'll never actually know if we are an approachable team, a kind team, a GP team or the best team.

I love 340. They are the biggest name in Rochester, and one of those teams I root for. 340 is one of those teams that I just became inspired by and I talk about 340 with a bunch of 174 students. But then one or two students in 174 can't stand me talking about 340 because they think 340 is just too good, too win-more, too celebrity. The question is this a fault of mine as as a leader to inspire a student, the fault of the student's false perceptions and misgivings, or the fault of 340's outward personality to a specific student. I can't tell.

I think this is the FIRST issue of the year - that some are overlooking opinions and perceptions because their own are just too strong to let go of. I get the feeling that the feeling of being inspired by these Elite Tier teams is becoming more of a personal event by fewer and fewer students and mentors as years go on, and replacing that lack of inspiration is a flow of resentment and bad blood (for lack of a better term.)
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Unread 03-25-2012, 03:35 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

To see an uncomfortable situation, become a lesson to learn for those that are reading this is great.

From hearing Adam address the situation, he isnt blaming the other team, nor directly saying its entirely their fault. Its just a miscommunication on both parties. He accepts responsibility for his team in terms of making sure they address it and handling it in a professional way.
I agree with others that Adam and HOT are approachable, and outright down to earth.

As for Chris, I think he is right on!
Its not demeaning in any way for yelling to occur. Teams are passionate about themselves, their alliance, and how they specifically want to contribute. In a game where the music is loud, the crowd is cheering and the drive teams are excited, emotions play a huge part and so is yelling, without being a jerk.
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Unread 03-25-2012, 04:32 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

I have only been involved in FIRST since 2009 I see this program as a great learning experience for the students. Thing like this as unpleasant as they are at the time, are good lessons for the students. Especially when someone like Adam steps up like he did to address the situation. In my short time in FIRST I have overheard things from adults in team shirts, that I do not feel represent the views of most people directly involved with FIRST. The few interactions I have had with HOT, I have come away impressed with them as a team. They have always been willing to not only show what they have done but explain how it works.
I think this will turn out to be a bad situation with a good lesson for all involved
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Unread 03-25-2012, 05:18 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tetraman View Post
I wonder if these so called "Elite" teams know how they are perceived by every student and mentor in FIRST. And I mean EVERY student and mentor. I'm not going to type here and say that everyone's own opinion on a team they have seen 'talked about' is invalid; I think it's at least arguable to say it is insufficient.

Work with me for a bit - 174, the team I mentor, is having the best statistical year ever so far. And if you go back in our history, you could say we are reaching "High Tier" status. Not in any way reaching the Elite Tier of 1114 or 148 or 217 or 67 (to use examples), but I hope to think that our number and team is getting out there. Then I ask myself - what do I mean by 174 being "out there" in the FIRST public view. How are we perceived I wonder to myself. Are we the annoying team, the high caliber team? Do teams fear to face us, or call us overrated? And while I can go to each of my buddies from other teams and ask, getting mixed results most likely; unless I asked every student in FIRST how 174 stacks up, I'll never actually know if we are an approachable team, a kind team, a GP team or the best team.

I love 340. They are the biggest name in Rochester, and one of those teams I root for. 340 is one of those teams that I just became inspired by and I talk about 340 with a bunch of 174 students. But then one or two students in 174 can't stand me talking about 340 because they think 340 is just too good, too win-more, too celebrity. The question is this a fault of mine as as a leader to inspire a student, the fault of the student's false perceptions and misgivings, or the fault of 340's outward personality to a specific student. I can't tell.

I think this is the FIRST issue of the year - that some are overlooking opinions and perceptions because their own are just too strong to let go of. I get the feeling that the feeling of being inspired by these Elite Tier teams is becoming more of a personal event by fewer and fewer students and mentors as years go on, and replacing that lack of inspiration is a flow of resentment and bad blood (for lack of a better term.)
I can tell your for a fact everyone of the mentors and students on "those big elitist powerhouse teams" know exactly how "all" the other teams view them.

What I would ask you, is do you know how at least a few of the other teams view them? Most of these teams are RCA or Hall of Fame teams. They didn't earn those for nothing nor over night, more than a few teams are aware of that fact.

Every year our mentors and students are a under a microscope and bad behavior is remembered a very long time, by FIRST, while good behavior is somehow easier to forget when it comes to those powerhouses. None of us are perfect and during a stressful weekend, its not hard to catch people at a bad moment. That is not an excuse, but it is a matter of fact, think how many students/parents/mentors/ect go to their pits the chances that one of a couple hundred catches the wrong person at the wrong time is pretty good. However I agree that in many cases writing the team an email first is good first move over just going to CD
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Unread 03-25-2012, 05:40 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

Before competition this year I told the students on my team that when they go to competition they may meet teams that are very driven, and sometimes that drive can come off as rude. You will see this in any competition you go to. It's good to be the better person and the one thing I make sure they hear is that No one person is better than you and vise versa.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mc Kenna View Post
Every year our mentors and students are a under a microscope and bad behavior is remembered a very long time, by FIRST, while good behavior is somehow easier to forget when it comes to those powerhouses. None of us are perfect and during a stressful weekend, its not hard to catch people at a bad moment. That is not an excuse, but it is a matter of fact, think how many students/parents/mentors/ect go to their pits the chances that one of a couple hundred catches the wrong person at the wrong time is pretty good. However I agree that in many cases writing the team an email first is good first move over just going to CD
I think this kind of thing really stems out of simple jealousy. I really feel that some teams "don't like" other teams because they do so well. In all honesty, when I was a student I was very jealous of some other teams simply because they do so well. When I met one of these teams the weekend of ship this year. I was blown away at how nice, welcoming, and helpful they were. I was expecting them to be rude and very isolated. The one thing I hadn't done was actually meet them and get to know them.

So if you feel that a team isn't nice, really just get to know them! Plus like Mc Kenna said Competition can be very stressful and we all have some random tendency to catch people in bad moments and we only remember those moments, not the good ones where they help us...
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Unread 03-25-2012, 09:36 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

I posted this on CD for a reason, yea I was frustrated with the team in question, but this was not meant to tarnish their image, If it was I wouldn't be here taking responsibility for my words.

I posted because I want to address the issue overall. As shown by the replies, this isn't an isolated incident. Adam showed how awesome he is with his apology and I really don't like to hold grudges, so I hope we can continue a successful relationship in the future, but this is just one experience. What about all the rest that get swept under the carpet?

At the end of the day we both got what we wanted. HOT won the comp, and we won the judges award, but their is still a goal yet to be obtained, and that is spreading the knowledge of how to handle these situations, and helping big name teams become more aware of how they come off to other teams.
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Unread 03-25-2012, 10:07 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

I don't know how many teams do it, but since last year, we have had a student act as an image consultant alongside some mentors. We want to project a positive image to teams during competition, so we use this student to police others on FIRST values throughout any event we participate in.

This is a direct result of things that are discussed to death on these boards: mentor-built hate speech, casting a dark shadow on an entire team over one heated comment, how to handle teams of varying calibers, how to not scare away potential alliance partners, and the like.

It's something I've been running out of the PR branch like how the build team runs safety out of their branch. Make inter-team activity during those 3 days as strong as the intra-team activity you have built up over at least 45 days. Make being friendly, considerate, aware, and open a priority like you do safety (Though safety clearly takes precedence. People who are bleeding due to unsafe actions probably won't be very friendly at all)

Sure, people can get a little testy and you have to be standing gingerly on your toes when the competition environment is breaking your back. That's just real-life lesson #64,350 you learn in FRC.
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  #43   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 03-25-2012, 11:16 PM
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Re: Elitist Teams

I would just like to add my opinion of HoT team and this whole discussion.

Sometimes it takes an adult to say to kids that are upset with "elitist teams" -- Have you considered the amount of work they do? Do you think they put in as much if not more time than you do? Do you think they care about their robot, their community, their schools? Do you think they care about FIRST, etc.
I think we are all here for the same reason. I think we all work hard, students, adults, volunteers... I think we need to stop and think about what this discussion does to our unity.

HoT - You, along with many other teams, have been an inspiration to my team. You have helped us grow and have given us a high bar to reach. We strive to be at the level of these amazing teams. I know students and mentors on HoT and I can tell you they would bend over backwards to help any team that asked (and many that don't ask). Maybe we ought to stop calling these people "elitists" as the name itself is a putdown. I really think we need to strive to be better by being better and not tearing down those that are setting strong solid examples.

I love FIRST, and I've been on all sides of it at many levels. Let's encourage our teams to strive to be better, and respect those that may be better. Let's try to look for the positives and congratulate their hard work. In-fighting and resentment only tear programs down! Let's keep FIRST unified and strong!
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Unread 03-26-2012, 12:04 AM
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Re: Elitist Teams

I have been coaching FRC for 15 years, which probably equates to 1000 or more matches. There have occasionally been incidents our team has been involved in where alliance members are upset by words or actions which occurred during the match. We have been on both the giving and receiving end of this. If I look back, I can put all of these situations into 4 catagories:

1. All members of the alliance did not discuss and understand the strategy for the match before it began.

2. One or more of the alliance members made a major deviation from the previously agreed upon strategy.

3. The agreed upon strategy was weak, and once the match began the strategy had to be changed mid-match to try to salvage the match.

4. One of the robots died, flipped, or otherwise proved incapable of fulfilling its role, and the strategy had to be changed mid-match to try to salvage the match.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The first two scenarios are very avoidable if everyone just talks to each other and is honest about what they can do (and cannot do). This discussion must always involve all the drivers, human players and coaches. Always make sure this is done. Many teams do not actively ensure this is done, but the best teams always do.

The second two situations are much more difficult. These always involve split second decisions and there is no time for discussion or negotiation. Some amount of yelling in inevitiable when this happens, if for no other reason that to make sure that instructions are heard over the music. (Remember that we coaches are always talking to the backs of the drivers' heads). Veteran coaches will always try to take immediate action in these cases.

If you are in this for the long haul, you need to have a thick skin. I have personally been yelled at, lied to, and insulted many times over the years. I have also been accused of being overly aggressive and insulting to others at times. While all these incidents are regrettable, many are the result of simple misunderstandings and difference in personality types. Communication is the key. I hold no grudges and I hope no one else does either. Everyone in the FRC is deserving of respect.

One thing I have observed over the years is that veteran coaches of successful teams always have a very commanding approach to strategy discussions. This comes from experience. After you have done this several hundred times, you can pretty much see the obvious strategy for almost every match. Good teams have solid scouting data, so we usually know exactly what to expect from both our partners and our opponents. As such, some experienced coaches just simply tell the other two members what the plan is, making it more of a directive than a negotiation. Some may consider this to be arrogance or elitisim, but in reality it is just simple efficiency: When there is really only one solution, why bother discussing other options? When time is short, this is likely to occur....if it is mid-match, it is almost certain. The reason the 'Elite' teams are where they are is because they understand how to succeed at this sport. Trust their judgement when they tell you what to do, even if it is as blunt as "Get out of the way!".

If you disagree with any strategy you are presented with, always speak up and voice your concerns, providing there is time to do so. For me the absolute worst thing in the competition experience is when a team agrees to the strategy (or doesn't disagree) and then does something else once the match begins. Failures of the machine or drivers are excusable, but deliberate deception is not.
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Last edited by Jim Zondag : 03-26-2012 at 12:17 AM.
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Unread 03-26-2012, 12:58 AM
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Re: Elitist Teams

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Hibner View Post
Here are some of my expectations that I have built up over my years of doing FIRST:

- If a team is vying for a top spot in the rankings, they control the strategy discussion during qualification matches. Let them know what makes your robot tick, and what makes it awful (in other words, what make you perform your best, and what really screws you up), but expect the top team to have a plan to give themselves the best chance to keep their top ranking. (We always defer strategy to other teams in this situation, because that's what we expect.)
- Yelling during a match is going to happen. Things are very loud and time is tight. Economy of words is a must. Don't take insult from a yelled, short statement.
- Coaches are going to talk (yell, really - but not in a negative way) at each other during a match. It shouldn't be unexpected for one coach to run to another team's coach and yell "get to the bridge! we need you at the bridge now!!" As I said, strategy changes are going to happen.
- Teams have a lot to do at the event, and not a lot of time to do it. If a team says, "we don't have time right now - let me know where I can meet you", it's not because they're jerks. I'm sure your team has been strapped for time at one point or another as well.
- Some teams like to talk strategy really early. Some teams wait until the queue. Try not to be angry if a team does it differently than what you do.
- Don't bother a team while their robot is on the field (or immediately afterward) unless it's REALLY important.
I can't agree more. This is word of wisdom. It is the kind of unwritten rules that everybody needs to know. Even in qualifying rounds, the strongest team that is ranked the highest should be the one who control the strategy. They should certainly listen to the other two teams' ideas but they should be in charge because the they have more at stake than the other teams.

I have had bad experience with teams with adult mentors that think that they know everything and started telling everyone what to do when their robot is not even ranked above average. We have very detail scouting data about every team so we know what to expect and what strategy to use to increase our chance of winning a match. Some teams only care about showing off what their robot's strengths are and not cooperate to win. There is nothing wrong with trying to win on the field as long as there is no cheating and lying. FIRST never said winning is not important. It is afterall called FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST is trying to model after sports to appeal to a wider audience. It is not called FIRST Robotics Exhibition or FIRST Robotics Fair. What is important is we cooperate and help each other get better off the field to beyond what is normally just good sportsmanship, but we compete fiercely on the field, using the best strategy as an alliance to win.

We also had bad experience with alliance partners who blamed us for not scoring more when we were scoring most of the points and they were hardly scoring and sometimes even got in our way and slowed us down. For these type of teams, we have a special place for them in our alliance selection list.
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