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  #16   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 03-04-2007, 09:11 PM
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Re: Free Ride

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Originally Posted by 114ManualLabor View Post
My opinion is slightly harsh... but here it is: If you cannot fund the absolute minimum to get yourself to Champs, then you haven't gone to your community enough, and aren't doing the main mission of FIRST, and so you do not deserve to go there anyway.

If a team seriously wants to go, there is nothing stopping them from getting the funding and sponsorship to go. The only limiter is how much they care, and how much they want it.
I highly disagree. Not all communities have the resources to pour a minimum $6-12 thousand into an extracircular group, espacially when many consider it below athletics in nessessity. The community could be almost purely residental, or be very depressed/have high poverty.
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Unread 03-04-2007, 09:12 PM
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Re: Free Ride

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Originally Posted by vivek16 View Post
yeah the 6000 dollar entry fee seems a little too much. was there an entry fee for regionals?

i agree that there should not be an entry fee if they are good enough to make it to nationals.
There is an entry fee for every FIRST Event you attend.

Your first regional costs $6,000 and any other regional you attend costs $4,000. The Championship Event costs $5,000, if I recall correctly.

These fees are to help pay for the arena and anything else FIRST has to pay for running the event. I'm sure renting out the Georgia Dome for 3-4 days is expensive, so I doubt that it would be feasible for FIRST to pay for a team's registration. The most I could see would be a discount or something, though that doesn't seem very possible, either.

True, if a team wins and makes it to the championship, they should be able to go; money shouldn't be a problem. But that is just another challenge that FIRST offers. Not only do you have to build a robot, but you also have to find companies to support you. This has a dual purpose--it allows your team to receive money from the community, as well as spreads the word of FIRST to many different areas of society.

There are hundreds of fundraisers your team could do to raise money for Championships if needed. You could have car washes, bake sales, set up something with a local restaurant, or organize something in your school (something like how clubs sell roses for Valentine's Day).

FIRST isn't just about the robot. Sure, you can go an build a good robot and win a few events, but there is so much more to it than that. Your team needs to be able to function as a cohesive whole. You have to gain support from your school and community. As someone stated above, let people know about your success. Do tons and tons of outreach--it's a great way to meet local companies who may be potential sponsors. Ask around your team to see if there parents have connections anywhere; most of the money for our Brunswick Eruption shirts came from companies that team parents owned/worked for.

Basically, what I'm saying is, there are better ways to pay for your trip to Championships that getting FIRST to do it for you.

In response to Scott's post above (which he posted while I was still typing this one...): If your community feels that athletics is above FIRST, then make them feel otherwise. Our team has participated in numerous community events--fairs, festivals, running a Lego camp, volunteering at senior citizen functions, etc. Get the word out there about your team. Fans and support will follow from local residents, who probably work for some company who would LOVE to get involved with your team.
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Unread 03-04-2007, 09:14 PM
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Re: Free Ride

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Originally Posted by mormannoob View Post
i just think it isn't fair for a team to win regionals and just because they cant afford to go to nats their season ends if we want to consider our selfs a sport i would assume it should work that way
i mean the best teams in each region should all have a chance to prove they're the best teams in he world
You don't understand the can of worms FIRST would open if they started paying the way for teams to go to the championship. Irregaurdless of whether they won a championship, EI, Chairman's or any other award.
Teams would say "why do they get money and we don't?" "Why would FIRST let Chairman's teams die out?" (it has happened) "why does FIRST let original teams die out?". "FIRST should fund more urban teams!" "FIRST should fund more rural teams!" "FIRST should fund more girl teams!"
The teams get a grant from NASA that pay for them to go to a NASA sponsered event but they need money from private enterprise to survive. It may not be fair but that's how things are done. I think that's why they created VEX for team that really cannot afford the FRC.
When FIRST starts picking favorites they sigh thier own death warrrant. Because teams will outright quit the program over stuff like that.
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Unread 03-04-2007, 09:16 PM
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Re: Free Ride

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Originally Posted by Scott Perry View Post
I highly disagree. Not all communities have the resources to pour a minimum $6-12 thousand into an extracircular group, espacially when many consider it below athletics in nessessity. The community could be almost purely residental, or be very depressed/have high poverty.
Carwashes, bake sales, and other easily available fund-raisers are not out of any teams reach, and can always be brought down (or up) to the level of the local economy. Our team brought in $500 in a one day car wash a couple years back. Being in America, there is always enough funding. I mean, if you're seriously having budget issues, the minimum you need to go to Champs is $6000 plus the cost for 4 member's hotel fees. $12k is a little high, as a robot can be built to a competition level based on random parts that would be otherwise thrown out from a hardware store and what comes in the kit.
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Unread 03-04-2007, 09:22 PM
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Re: Free Ride

I agree with most of the posts here that teams should pay for the championship if invited, because there really isn't any other practical place for the event funding to come from.

What really needs to happen is in increase in robotics enthusiasm in every community, state, and country, as per Dean's homework this year, so that robotics can grow and become more and more respectable as an extracurricular activity. I would love to see the day when FIRST is as popular, or moreso than football or other school sports. When this happens, the school will be much more likely to help out with funding for regionals and championship.
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Unread 03-04-2007, 09:25 PM
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Re: Free Ride

Believe me, if FIRST could make all of this free for everyone, they would. The fact is, all of this costs a lot of money, much more than is collected in fees from teams, and it is only through the very generous donations of cash, people, product and facilities from various sponsors that FIRST even continues to exist.

If you knew what stuff costs in the real world, you'd blanch.

But, part of FIRST's mission is to teach you about reality, including the costs. A community of 2000 people can send a team to Atlanta for $10 per family, that's about 20 cents per week. Small, impoverished, whatever, it CAN be done.

Another part of the mission is to get these people - the general public, those who aren't really sure how to pay the next rent check - to believe that people working together in engineering and science can change the world for the better. If you convince them, 20 cents a week seems like a bargain (and it is).

Idealistic? Yes, absolutely. But, I have just enough foolishness to believe that I can change the world. And I sure am trying. You?

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Unread 03-04-2007, 09:40 PM
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Re: Free Ride

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Originally Posted by 114ManualLabor View Post
Being in America, there is always enough funding.
Please take off the rose colored glasses, and look at the real world.

Whatever you might think, money does not grow on trees here. It needs to be earned. Not every team has the luxury of being able to do 1/2 the things you are assuming everyone can do.

Do I think that FIRST should pay for the regional winners to go to the championships? No. As I said, money does not grow on trees.

It is unfortunate that some teams cannot go to the championships, but please do not say that they are not trying to get funding, just because you do not see the challanges that they have.

Sometimes there really is not enough funding.
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Unread 03-04-2007, 09:48 PM
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Re: Free Ride

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Originally Posted by richardmcc2 View Post
What really needs to happen is in increase in robotics enthusiasm in every community, state, and country, as per Dean's homework this year, so that robotics can grow and become more and more respectable as an extracurricular activity. I would love to see the day when FIRST is as popular, or moreso than football or other school sports. When this happens, the school will be much more likely to help out with funding for regionals and championship.
To add, my thinking is the strength of FIRST is going to be in the successes of its alumni as time passes. We have college mentors who are doing remarkable work for FIRST and for FIRST teams. We have college alumni who have returned as engineers. We have students who are making decisions to be teachers in our educational system. With each year that passes the strength of the program is developing and growing. It is my hope that school systems will be affected /impacted in ways that bring in more money for education in science and technology.

Winning a regional is wonderful, no doubt about it. The best part of winning the regional is how the team won it, students working side by side with engineers, teachers, professionals, sponsors, parents - building the team along with the robot, earning their way together.

I helped coach an athletic team a few years back. In the span of two years they sky rocketed to the top, winning at regional level their second try. We had worked hard and we knew we had improved and had a shot at it in their division. They won. We didn't have the monies to compete on the national level that year, nothing was in place. No fundraisers had been done, no parent group had been formed, no sponsors had been solicited. We just weren't ready for that next step. The next year, the team collapsed because no one was willing to step in and maintain the level they had achieved and work to help them. It was very sad but it happened.

It takes a lot of work and continued support to help a team succeed on every level, rookie, veteran, Hall of Famers. We earn our way, each of us. The Woodie Flowers and the Chairman's Award reflect that work, that effort.
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Last edited by JaneYoung : 03-04-2007 at 10:27 PM. Reason: typo
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Unread 03-04-2007, 09:51 PM
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Re: Free Ride

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Originally Posted by Koko Ed View Post
You don't understand the can of worms FIRST would open if they started paying the way for teams to go to the championship. Irregaurdless of whether they won a championship, EI, Chairman's or any other award.
Teams would say "why do they get money and we don't?" "Why would FIRST let Chairman's teams die out?" (it has happened) "why does FIRST let original teams die out?". "FIRST should fund more urban teams!" "FIRST should fund more rural teams!" "FIRST should fund more girl teams!"
The teams get a grant from NASA that pay for them to go to a NASA sponsered event but they need money from private enterprise to survive. It may not be fair but that's how things are done. I think that's why they created VEX for team that really cannot afford the FRC.
When FIRST starts picking favorites they sigh thier own death warrrant. Because teams will outright quit the program over stuff like that.
woah im saying pay for regional winners CM and EI not any team they choose
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Unread 03-04-2007, 10:10 PM
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Re: Free Ride

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Originally Posted by mormannoob View Post
woah im saying pay for regional winners CM and EI not any team they choose
Like I said, if you pay for some why not others? People will complain bitterly. FIRST will not go for this because they don't want to hear it. So this will not happen. Period.
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Unread 03-04-2007, 10:34 PM
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Re: Free Ride

There are 37 regionals this year, and 6 teams will qualify from each (3 winners, Chairman's, Eng Inspiration, and Rookie). That's 222 teams. Plus there's 28 other teams that are pre-qualified - Hall of Fame, last year's winners, etc.

Now FIRST knows that not all of these teams will be able to attend, for many reasons. That's why there aren't 222 spots still being held open in Atlanta. And some of those who will qualify have already registered and paid.

Some won't be allowed to take another half-week off of school. Some can't logistically swing it with short notice (mentors have to arrange vacation, etc.) And some can't afford it. Is it any less fair for a team to miss the Championships because they can't afford it, or because the mentors can't take any more vacation? We can't fix everything in the world. We can only try, as those posting fundraising ideas are doing.

If the 250 qualifying teams were given free registration, that would mean the other teams going would have to pay more than double to cover the costs. Or initial registration for every team, rookies included, would have to go up by over $1000 to have enough in the bank to pay for Atlanta. Is that fair?
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Unread 03-04-2007, 10:35 PM
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Re: Free Ride

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Originally Posted by mormannoob View Post
woah im saying pay for regional winners CM and EI not any team they choose
I can definitely see where KokoEd is coming with this argument.

If FIRST starts paying for Chairman's and EI teams, then why not sportsmanship award winners? Isn't that gracious professionalism, too? How about spirit? Doesn't cheering for EVERYONE mean that your team is graciously professional? If not those, then why not Innovation in Control? Isn't FIRST about coming up with an innovative way to complete a task?

I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this...
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Unread 03-04-2007, 10:53 PM
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Re: Free Ride

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Originally Posted by 114ManualLabor View Post
If a team seriously wants to go, there is nothing stopping them from getting the funding and sponsorship to go. The only limiter is how much they care, and how much they want it.
With all due respect, you're with a veteran team. Our rookie year we qualified for nationals (by rookie inspiration award and highest seeded rookie) and had a good robot (did well into the semifinals).

We didn't have the money to go.

I believe that any team that qualifies by FIRST's criteria (regional champs, chairman's, and ROY) should not have to pay the $5k entrance fee. That's like a baseball team winning into the playoffs and then having to fork over money to make it to the World Series.

If you didn't qualify on the basis of your competitive merits, then you should have to pay an entrance fee. But I do not think it is especially fair, even if it may be economically necessary, to charge for entrance to the national championship.

FIRST may not be ABOUT the competition, but it IS a competition.

Disclaimer: My team raises about $20k a year, and we invest about $16k into the regional, the robot, and assorted events we run (FLL, etc). That said, the two towns that comprise our district are two of the most affluent in Southern NH. Our team's founding coach was the guy behind WinZip. There is some industry in the area. But we do scrap for funding, doing car washes, car shows, and the like. Our school is our biggest sponsor. They give us the entry fee and they've been talking about cutting that.

Hollis/Brookline has an average family income of $137k. The surrounding towns in Hillsborough County have an average of $35k. Think they can scrap together the money? The Green Team, 885 from Vermont, has something like eight kids from four towns in rural Vermont. They barely do it--there is a reason there is only one team from Vermont.

Dean says that the biggest impediment to FIRST being spread everywhere is ignorance of it. That's not true. Convincing people of FIRST's worth isn't difficult once they see it in action. The two biggest problems are a) getting people to regionals and B) finding the money to run a program that costs $20k a year.
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Unread 03-04-2007, 11:13 PM
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Re: Free Ride

I've been on FIRST event planning committees before, and I can honestly say to host a FIRST event isn't cheap! There are a lot of expenses involved, including many that the general public never sees but are necessary for the event to be held. Within registration fees, FIRST cannot absorb all the costs needed to run a competition.

Seeing how the registration fees are needed to run the event, it is possible to raise enough money in a short period of time to fund going to the Championships, all that you really need is to REALLY WANT to do it. Where there is a will, there is a way!

In addition to the ideas already presented in this thread, here is another idea that can work. Look closely at the costs needed, and see how much of it the team really needs to spend. The bare minimum needed is the registration fees; while funding the students travel expenses is a nice bonus, if you're broke you only need to focus on needs, and not wants. Have the students and mentors pay for their own hotel and airfare; this will usually cost about $400 per student if you can find a good airfare deal.

So now all you really need is the $5000 registration fee. In tight situation, if you feel that you can raise enough money in fundraisers to pay off the trip, have a team mentor take out a new credit card for the team and put the $5000 registration fee on that. (A six-month, no interest one is usually the best choice.)

Now you have six months to raise $5000. From our experiences, car washes can bring in about $500 in profits. Pasta dinners can bring in close to $1000. Pancake breakfasts can also bring in a lot. Can and Bottle drives (if your state has beverage container deposit programs) can bring in $500-$750. If your team takes the initiative and plans one or two large fundraisers like this each month, you can be sure you'll be able to raise the $5000 needed for the event.
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Unread 03-04-2007, 11:24 PM
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Re: Free Ride

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Originally Posted by mormannoob View Post
i was curious if the regional winners should get a free ride to ATL (plane, hotel, the whole shabang) say why or why not i think it would be nice and would be a cool little extra reward
I have a problem with two words in your post: "free" and "little." I think people have already explained that the costs involved would not be "little."

"Free" reminds me of the old saying, "There is no free lunch." A few things in life are free--sunsets, for example (though you still have to spend the time to look at them in order to get the full benefit). But be careful to avoid the word "free" whenever you're discussing things that must be obtained with money. Somebody has to pay for it.

Just one example: I'm the one who ordered our team's T-shirts this year. Our team policy is that students and mentors are not charged for their own shirts that they wear to competitions. But I am careful not to tell students that their shirts are "free," because they're NOT free. The team has to pay for those shirts out of limited team funds.
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