May I remind you all, that all even teams can go to nationals this year and odd teams next year. This means that almost all FIRST participants will get a chance to experience nationals, which is a good thing. They just added the winning a regional = trip to nationals, to give the exceptional robots more opportunites regardless of what team number they are. FIRST is not about winning, its about having fun and gaining experience in science and technology.
May I also point out that recognition, the R in FIRST, can be achieved by victory. (They are not mutually exclusive) FIRST had this in mind therefore winning has always been a part of FIRST. The spirit of FiRST has not changed, FIRST is just too big this year.