View Full Version : Suggestions for Qualifications

Chris Hibner
09-26-2001, 07:59 AM
I didn't want to post this in the other thread since it has become more of a rant-fest than constructive suggestions.

Anyway, here are my thoughts:

1. Using a previous year's results to give automatic bids to Nationals is fine. This occurs in many other competitions. For example, if you win a PGA tour event, you are automatically given your tour card and a spot in the US Open for the next year (you don't have to go through qualification). In NASCAR, past champions get "provisional" starting positions in races.

2. Qualification points should not be given for this year's nationals. As stated by Patrick in the other thread, this gives an unfair advantage to even numbered teams for years to come (notice that I say this and I am on an even numbered team). I don't have a problem with the national champion team getting an automatic bid since you should always have the opportunity to defend your championship.

3. Qualification points should somehow be normalized to the number of regionals that a team attends. I hardly think it's fair that Team A goes to 4 regionals, becomes a finalist at one of the regionals, and wins two Control Awards and qualifies for nationals; while Team B goes to one regional, is Regional Finalist, and wins one Control Award and doesn't qualify. In essense, if you don't win the regional, you can't go to nationals. If the points aren't normalized, FIRST gives the message of, "the more money you give us, the easier we'll make it for you to qualify for nationals."

4. Giving exemptions to the original teams is silly. This exemption must go.

5. Qualification points should be normalized for the size of the field at a regional. It is pretty obvious that the chances of winning the regional or winning a technical award are much better at a regional with 30 teams than if the regional had 60 teams. Perhaps the points given out at the 60 team regional should be double that given at the 30 team regional. If you don't like giving the winner 6 pts (instead of 3), then at least give points down to the semi-finalists or something. Just make sure that somehow twice the points are available.

6. Automatic bids should perhaps be passed down. That is, if a team already has an automatic bid for Nationals and they win an award, perhaps the automatic bid should be passed down to the next highest finisher without an automatic bid. For example, let's say that Team 45 wins the Leadership in Control Award at a regional, but they are already automatically in for the nationals. Then Team 45 should keep their award, but pass the automatic bid on to the team that finished 2nd for the Control Award. The judges would then have to not only pick a winner, but make a top-5 or top-10 list. The same could be done for the winners of the regionals, in that the automatic bid could be passed on to the finalists.

#6 would solve the problem that Andy B. mentioned in the other thread in that they would feel bad for winning since it would take away another team's chance to go to Nationals. If the bid was passed on, they wouldn't feel bad for winning.

Anyway, if I have any more thoughts, I'll post them at that time.


Andy Baker
09-27-2001, 12:29 AM

I like your line of thinking. I'll try to add to your excellent points.

Ideally, the only teams who should qualify for Nationals should be the teams who win or perform very well at the Regionals leading into nationals. BUT... as we know, this is not logically possible for this year.

So... I'll join Chris and try to tweak the qualification rule for this year:

Chris wrote:
"1. Using a previous year's results to give automatic bids to Nationals is fine."

Makes sense to me

"2. Qualification points should not be given for this year's nationals."


"2a. The national champion team(s) (should get) an automatic bid."


"3. Qualification points should somehow be normalized to the number of regionals that a team attends."

Yes, that makes sense... and we can even make it an equation:

n = number of regionals a team attends
p = total "FIRST points" a team wins during all regionals it attends
Qp = qualification points a team gets

qp = p/n

"4. Giving exemptions to the original teams is silly. This exemption must go. "

Agreed. This is not needed.

"5. Qualification points should be normalized for the size of the field at a regional. "

Nah, we don't need to allow for this. This is not that big of a deal. Granted, it will be tougher to get awards at certain regionals, but the normalization factor will not be even, and this adds a level of complexity that is more trouble than it's worth.

"6. Automatic bids should perhaps be passed down. "

Again, this is getting complex. As said in a previous post, while if an "auto-qualifier" would get a Controls Award, this opens up a spot to the even numbered teams who are on the waiting list for Nationals. Also, IF a "auto-qualifier" wins a Technical Award... well, then they deserve their position at Nationals... and that makes their "auto-qualification" moot.

To add to your ideas, I think that the Chairman's award winners deserve "auto-qualifying" exemptions. Believe it or not, these teams don't buy this award (as someone else was ranting about in another post)... they deserve it. Look at Chatsworth and Baxter Bomb Squad (last two winners)... they win this award by working hard and spreading the ideals of FIRST.

Andy B.

Bill Gold
09-27-2001, 12:43 AM
I agree with both of your Nats qualification edits. Especially your equation Andy.

But I wanted to bring up another idea, which isn't originally my idea. I was talking to Wendy (coach of team #22) at the California team forum about qualifying for Nats. She didn't seem too enthusiastic about being possibly given a lifetime ticket to Nats. She felt like it would be a good idea if her team could pass their ticket to Nats to a (rookie) team of their choice. I personally have no problem with this, I was just curious what you guys think of the idea.


Anne Lam
09-27-2001, 12:55 AM
I don't think that should be let happened. Original teams in the 1st FIRST competition are exempt from the qualification process, which means that if they go they will guaranteed one of the 288 spots available. If they were allowed to give their 'ticket' to another team, that means they would have two reserved spots instead of one.

Bill Gold
09-27-2001, 02:33 AM
Let me clarify my previous post....

By giving their ticket to another team, they wouldn't be going to Nationals that year, but the team of their choice would go in their place.

Does that make more sense?

Wayne C.
09-27-2001, 07:14 AM
I generally agree with most of the ideas discussed above. But I want to clarify as one of the writers, who might be interpreted as having malice towards the Chairmans Award people, that I have no malice towards them. As a matter of fact I think they deserve all the credit they have been given and they have done a wonderful job.
What I question is where FIRST draws the line. Every time some perk comes up will it automatically go to them first? I was under the impression that wining the coveted award and the recognition thereof was reward enough. It never excluded others from being apart of the big show before- to the contrary it encouraged others to attend.

Wayne C.
09-27-2001, 07:20 AM
To finish-
Let the prior year or two's Chairman Award winners and runners up have a berth. But don't make it a lifetime grant.

The best solution is to find a venue big enough for all to play. We are asked to do the impossible in 6 weeks, now it is time for the organization to do the same.

And while I'm on- once again- since FIRST has put the winners of regionals in the awful position of making trip arrangements to Orlando at the last minute they should refund the registration fee for the Nationals to help offset the increase in costs....

My 2 cents


Joe Ross
09-27-2001, 07:53 AM
Like Andy, I agree with every one of the points except for #5, about normalizing points based on the size of the regionals.

I'm sure that no one would dispute that some of the regionals are larger then others and some regionals are more difficult then others. If you were to normalize the point based on size of the regionals, the large regionals would stay large.

If you do not normalize the points, eventually teams will start to move away from the large regionals to the weaker regionals. Fairly soon, the strengths of the regionals would be fairly equal. I think this is a much better situation then artificially normalizing the points.

Another benefit is that teams would move around more. Right now, most of the west coast teams don't know many (or any) midwest or east coast teams and vice versa. Having just made the switch from a west coast team to an east coast team, I know that it can only help FIRST if there is more continuity between coasts. I think that this is one way to help promote that.

As for passing down the points for winning awards, I'm not really sure. On one hand, it would increase the quality of the nationals. On the other hand, it leaves a spot open for another team to get in randomly.

Joe Johnson
09-27-2001, 08:10 AM
l believe that FIRST has done a pretty good job striking the right balance between the logistical realities and the idea that getting to the Nationals should be an honor.

As to particular objections, my main one is that the even/odd business is not particularly clever in that it is sure to be changed in 2 or at most 3 years given the growth rate that FIRST has historically had.

As to normalizing points for the number of regionals, I think this is making much about a little. I think that FIRST more or less set the 5pt line based on the number of teams that that allowed to qualify, not on some number handed down from on high.

If FIRST were to normalize the points for number of regionals, this would not really change matters much, except in a handful cases I suppose that the same teams would qualify after FIRST re-normalized the qualification point total to give them the same number of teams.

As to normalizing for number of teams at a regional, again, this is a lot of bother for a little benefit.

As to not giving the Founding Teams a lifetime ticket, again, this is much about little. There were only 10 such teams left in 2001 -- I can live with them having a lifetime slot.

As to Chairman's Award Winners, for me this is FIRST finally beginning to put their money where their mouth is. If the Chairman's Award is the most important award they offer, as they often say, then this is a good start toward making it a reality.

As to not counting the Nationals in 2002 because it gives the Even Teams too big a break, I think this falls under the Tough Rocks category. Yes, the even teams will be slightly more likely to qualify for the Nationals in 2003 but this is not going to be a big deal.

If you are going to get your undies in a bunch about something thing about this: In 2002 there will be say 150 slots at the Nationals to be filled by the approximately 300 Even Teams that did not meet the qualifying criteria. In 2003 there will be 150 slots for the Odd Teams (assuming that FIRST rejiggers the qualifying point totals so that this many slots are left unfilled), BUT there will be over 400 Odd teams that will not meet the critera. The numbers get even grimmer in 2003 but this time it is the Even Teams that will feel like their ox is being gored.

There are other particulars here and there, but again, I want to say that I think FIRST did a pretty good job with a difficult task.

Joe J.

P.S. If any doubt that FIRST will change the criteria in 2002 for making the Nationals, look at the wording of the message from Bob Hammond:

"The following qualification process will be used for teams attending 2002 FIRST Robotics Competition Championship:"

Think about it...

Joe Johnson
09-27-2001, 08:46 AM
To all who think passing down invitations to the Nationals is a good idea:

What do you have to say about NCAA Men's Basketball teams that win their confenence titles AND are undefeated?

Should they be given the chance to hand their automatic invite to another team (perhaps of their choosing)?

I really disagree with this idea. Team's that meet FIRST's criteria get the chance to go to the Nationals, teams that don't will have to work hard to try to make it in future years.

I believ that the idea that a team that meets more than one criteria is taking the slot of some other team that "deserved" to attend is misguided.

Joe J.

09-27-2001, 12:59 PM
Originally posted by Joe Johnson

As to Chairman's Award Winners, for me this is FIRST finally beginning to put their money where their mouth is. If the Chairman's Award is the most important award they offer, as they often say, then this is a good start toward making it a reality.

In 250 years, the same teams will go to nationals every year (the 250 that have won chairman's awards in the past + the teams that were here forever). Every other team will never have a chance. It's a long ways off I know, but looking at extreme cases shows flaws. This flaw is that every year, more and more teams are "qualified for life", which means the chances of other teams getting to nationals are decreased each year. This in addition to having to compete against more and more teams as FIRST grows. This will create make newer teams naturally dislike "qualified for life" teams.

And because a chairman's award winner may have won in the past -- does not mean the team necessarily still exemplifies what FIRST is about (I am in no way suggesting that any previous chairman's award winner no longer exemplifies FIRST -- I'm just acknowledging the possibility that this could happen). They should have to reprove this consistantly (eg by winning a regional chairman's award or national runner up) if they want to keep their spot at nationals. After winning a chairman's award, what's the incentive to try hard again? There are many altruistic answers but they just aren't realistic -- you need incentive to try.

I'm okay with just about everything else on the qualification list... But "qualified for life" bothers me because I think it will create great animosity among teams, and be counterproductive to what FIRST is all about. If we only look at results from the previous year or two, that is great because each team will have proven that they are worthy of being at nationals -- and there is no room for argument. Let's face it -- lots of these teams that have been around for 10 years and won chairman's awards a while back have NONE of the same people on the team and completely different philosophies. They are basically different teams -- but because they still have the seem team name and location as another team did 10 years ago, they get a free pass. I think FIRST is simply afraid not to give certain teams special treatment -- and that these teams need to speak up and acknowledge to FIRST that they want to prove themselves year after year, not get free passes.


P.J. Baker
09-27-2001, 06:59 PM
In general, I have to admit that I think FIRST did a pretty good job of coming up with a way to limit qualify teams for the Championships. In fact, I actually suggested something very similar a couple of months ago:

My thoughts on the Future of Nationals
Here are my thoughts:

1: The National tournament should be at Disney for as long as possible

2: Teams should have to qualify for the national tournament.

3: Teams should be able to qualify through a strong showing in any of the FRCís main components (Regionals, Chairmanís Award, Animation, etc.)

4: There should be a lot of teams at the National Competition (250+)


1: How to resolve the qualifying vs. planning issue?

a) Long break (2 months min.) between end of regionals and Nationals

b) Qualifying for 200N Nationals based on 200(N-1) performance (with a certain # of wildcards for top regional performers, Chairmanís Award finalists, Animation finalists, etc)

Since FIRST stole my idea, I guess I'll post some comments and suggestions for improvements and hope that they steal those as well. ;)

Anyway, here are my thoughts and suggestions about qualifying:

Since there are ten or fewer of the original teams left, I don't think it's useful to lobby for the removal of that exemption. It really doesn't make a big difference.

Chairmans award winners do deserve special treatment, but maybe a lifetime exemption is a little too much. I would suggest a 10 year exemption for all future Chairman's Award winners and a ten year exemption starting this year for the previous 10 winners of the award.

Normalizing points based on how many regionals a team has attended is not really an option. FIRST is clearly (I think) trying to emphasize the regionals. If anything, FIRST wants to encourage teams to attend multiple regionals (something that gets cheaper every time a new regional is added).

Qualification points should definitely be awarded at the 2002 Championship. In general, I would guess that teams that find themselves unable to attend the Championships this year will attend an extra regional, while the teams that can attend the Championships (espescially the pre-quals and the "Lucky" even # teams) will attend the Championships instead of an additional regional. If you think about it that way, the teams attending the Championships are actually worse off because the number of points available per team is much smaller.

I DO think that there should be more points available at the larger regionals. Give out one point to each of the teams in semi-finals and one point each to the teams that finish second and third in the Judging for the technical awards and Regional Chairman's Award.

Finally, there is the issue of what to do with spots taken by redundant qualifiers (ie multi-regional winners). The way I see it, there are two pools from which to fill these spots. First is the waitlist of even numbered teams (which I presume has already started). Second is the group of top regional performers that di not snare one of the auto qualifiers (regional finalists, runner up for quality etc.). I'm not sure how to do it, but I'd suggest trying to fill the spots from both pools.


David Kelly
09-27-2001, 09:41 PM
Originally posted by P.J. Baker

I DO think that there should be more points available at the larger regionals. Give out one point to each of the teams in semi-finals and one point each to the teams that finish second and third in the Judging for the technical awards and Regional Chairman's Award.


what do you mean by "the larger regionals"?

09-28-2001, 12:32 PM
I agree that under the qualification point system teams that attend multiple regionals (even as many as 4) have an increased opportunity to accumulate qualification points, and therefore a better chance of making nationals. However, to normalize points based on regionals attended may not be the best solution, as this may decrease team attendance at regionals. If a team does exceptionally well at its first regional and wins the regional as well as two awards, by attending another regional you risk losing your automatic qualification berth for next year, etc. What's the right thing to do concerning normalizing based on regionals attended? I have no idea, but I thought I'd toss these scenarios out and give everyone something to think about.

Additionally, someone commented that by not normalizing points at each regional, there will be more travel between east and west coast teams. I doubt this will be the case. I think stronger regionals will lose participation, and weaker regionals will gain participation, but only from a very limited area due to travel costs and budget restrictions. Is it fair as presented by FIRST? Well, between the Atlantic Coast regional, Long Island regional, and New York City regional, an average of 34 teams attended. 64 teams attended the Great Lakes regional, and 67 attended the Virginia regional. Awards are much tougher to come by when competing against twice as many teams. As are finalist and champion berths. But I can't say that they are more competitive, as the Midwest regional had the smallest number of teams attending (30), but had some great teams. I fear that it may have a smaller number of teams in the future despite a growing FIRST community, as teams realize their only chance to qualify may be to avoid the collection of historical powerhouses that attend, and use their limited budgets to attend a different regional. Is normalizing based on the number of teams fair? Perhaps. I don't see a more fair way of doing it at this time.

I agree that the remaining original teams deserve a large amount of credit. Let's name awards after them (not the sponsors, but the team), rather than handing out life-time free rides.

The Chairman's Award is different. As Joe pointed out, FIRST does believe this is the most significant award, and is now beginning to show it. However, I am a part of the group believing that perhaps a 10 year auto-berth is appropriate, as lifetime berths will continue to take away spots from at-large teams, and the number of at-large teams is growing at a tremendous rate.

Just my thoughts.

09-28-2001, 01:05 PM
After some thought, perhaps the best way of "normalizing" for the number of regionals attended would be to limit the number of regionals a team could attend, to say, 2. Then you could not simply "buy" a berth to nationals by going to 4 or 5 regionals.

Chris Hibner
09-28-2001, 01:12 PM
When I mentioned normalizing based on number of regionals attended, this is what I had in mind:

N = number of regionals attended
P = total points awarded
F = normalization adjustment factor
Q = qualification score

Q = F * P / N (note that this is equivalent to Q = P/(N/F))

For Andy's formula, he has F = 1. I think F should be around 2.

The reason for this is so you don't discourage teams too much from attending more than one regional. In this manner, in the long run, you are more likely to qualify for nationals by attending more regionals, but you are not 4 times more likely to qualify by attending 4 regionals (if F = 2, you are twice as likely to qualify by going to four regionals).

My formula is similar to the SAT's. You lose one point for a blank answer, and 1.125 (or something like that) for a wrong guess. the point is to make sure that in the long run, you are better off to not guess. The above formula makes sure that, in the long run, you are still better off to attend more regionals, but it reduces the advantage somewhat.


09-28-2001, 01:14 PM
Originally posted by Andy Baker

"3. Qualification points should somehow be normalized to the number of regionals that a team attends."

Yes, that makes sense... and we can even make it an equation:

n = number of regionals a team attends
p = total "FIRST points" a team wins during all regionals it attends
Qp = qualification points a team gets

qp = p/n

I LIKE EQUATION :D However i suggest (as I think Chris suggested) adding a normalization for the number of teams you are competing against at each regional... This way teams are not discouraged from going to large regionals.

n = number of regionals a team attends
t = the sum of the team attendance at each of the regionals you attend
T = average number of teams at all regionals (a constant)
p = total "FIRST points" a team wins during all regionals it attends
Qp = qualification points a team gets

Qp = (p*t)/(n*T)
which also gives you a unit of points per event. Basically this means that a team who attends one small regional (eg 40 teams) competiton needs to earn 1.5 times as many points to go to nationals as a team who attends a single large regional (eg 60 teams). At the same time, a team who attends a single regional only needs half as many points as a team who attends two regionals of the same size.