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  #31   Spotlight this post!  
Unread 09-05-2012, 12:46 PM
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Re: Should FRC Account for School Size?

Google "Indiana class basketball" - this is a raging debate that's been around since David plinked Goliath.
We all have an impossible task, and a ridiculously short amount of time to complete it. Part of the challenge is to recognize our resources and use them effectively.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 12:52 PM
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Re: Should FRC Account for School Size?

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Originally Posted by holygrail View Post

So to re-frame the OP...
What, if anything, should FRC do to minimize the gap between the high resource teams and those that struggle to afford a single entry fee as we move into the future? How do you think that decision could impact the sustainability of FRC in coming years?
This part of the discussion has been discussed over the years here in Chief Delphi and elsewhere. One example I can give is during NEMO meetings that I've facilitated over the last few years. When this topic has come up, the answers aren't always the ones that people want to hear. Can it be frustrating that a team in a region can only afford to attend one FRC competition and another team in the same region can afford to attend 2+? Yes, it can be frustrating for both teams, if you think about it. It's frustrating for the team who can only commit to one competition because they know that is it for their season. Within that knowledge is the weight of not being able to go forward with working out the bugs, giving the drive team more experience, having the opportunity to compete in the season again, and bringing everything learned from the first competition to the next one. For the team that can compete in 2+ competitions, it can provide frustration in that the team has learned from its first competition and is bringing that experience and hopefully, improvements, to the next competition. The team that can compete in 2+ competitions continues to build on their strengths by identifying their weaknesses throughout the season. They may possibly be frustrated by having to compete against teams at each event they have entered - who only have the single event to compete in.

How does this impact the sustainability of FRC? I don't think it does. Teams compete as best as they can, using the resources that they have. Does this create opportunities to think about creating tiers rather than trying to keep the playing field level? Absolutely. Does it create opportunities for teams to look at weak regions vs. strong regions built on team reputations? Yes.

To me, the district plan has been more of a threat to the teams/regions than the amount of competitions the teams can travel to. I say this because there are regions who are not ready for districts and will not be for a while. Those regions will have to work very hard to be able to do that. Because I'm in Texas, I'm very aware of the opportunities and the frustrations that are built into this part of the discussion. Texas is one of the regions that I feel needs to get more ducks lined in a row before it can consider a district model. It is also a region where there are teams who compete in one competition and teams who compete in 2+ competitions per season. It is also a region where some newer teams are still learning the basics such as - it is ok for teams to travel to more than one competition. In the long run, a district model will help a region like Texas but not without lining up some ducks first. I'm not worried about FRC sustainability. I was 3 years ago but I'm not anymore. To me, it is becoming a survival of the fittest. That doesn't have as much to do with the amount of resources a team has as much as it does organization and management, the tenacity of spirit and attitude of the team, and community support.

Another topic of discussion that I like to bring up in NEMO meetings (and with anyone I talk to about the FRC program) is the bigger picture. That picture includes the dreams and aspirations of the students who are involved in the teams and in the program and what they do with those dreams and aspirations. The gap between the high resource teams and those that struggle, doesn't really come up in that topic other than to showcase that students in both types of teams have dreams, aspirations, and the potential to be inspired.

Jane
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Last edited by JaneYoung : 09-06-2012 at 12:18 AM. Reason: finished thought...
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Unread 09-05-2012, 01:51 PM
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Re: Should FRC Account for School Size?

I look at this sort of thing from a different angle than most.

I hate complexity, for any reason. Spare parts complexity, management complexity, any additional complexity. Complexity is inefficiency. It's distraction.

I would much rather FIRST increase it's focus on overall cost-savings. Increasing partnerships that result in decreased team cost. Lower fees and lower entry costs through initiatives like 4H and JC Penny.

I believe that maintains a lower level of complexity that starting to initiate a number of 'social' programs that try to help lower-funded teams compete. Keeping a single-minded focus on lowering overall costs and increasing the quality of the experience is a very simple non-comlex message. Starting to create tiered systems of payment that require documentation, verification, management, and people is not something I want my FIRST money working towards.

Simply. Minimize. Reduce. It's a good engineering rule, and an even better management one.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 02:27 PM
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Re: Should FRC Account for School Size?

I don't think it should be. Our team, 1058, is at a school 1400 kids strong. However, our team only consists of 7 returning members. However, there are teams in schools of a similar size, team 20, the Rocketeers, for example. They seem to bring 80 or more kids to each regional. Not that it's a bad thing- there is just too much variability between team and school size.
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Unread 09-05-2012, 03:44 PM
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Re: Should FRC Account for School Size?

Personally, I would hate to have a division structure in FIRST. When you look at a sport like football, there isn't much there that's "new". A team that is bigger, stronger, and faster will generally win. As a team standing on the sidelines, you don't really learn anything by watching two other team's play (ignoring what you might learn about the team itself) - watching them play doesn't make your team any better against a fourth team.

In FIRST, that's different. Going to a regional and seeing other teams does make your team better. I've learned a lot from seeing other teams at regionals, including techniques, designs, and processes that we brought back in order to better our team.

Further, sports is really all about winning. People don't join the football team because they're interested in the aerodynamics of a football while its in flight. They join because they want to get out on the field and win. FIRST, on the other hand, is not all about winning. This past year, you had students who were actually interested in the aerodynamics of a basketball in flight. As a community, FIRST defines success differently than sports, and it's that definition that really lets us pit rookie members against 20+ year veteran teams on the same field.
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Unread 09-06-2012, 07:50 AM
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Re: Should FRC Account for School Size?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ebarker View Post
The free lunch statistic isn't a contributor,... It is a correlation.

A key to effectiveness is organization and planning, commitment, hard work, and other elements.

Team 842, Carl Hayden HS, is in a 91 % free/reduced lunch school.

Having a ton of material resources doesn't automatically convey advantage over the human spirit.
I agree with your wording, correlation is a more suitable term than contributor.

Using the free lunch statistic is by no means a full-proof way to separate teams. However using a mix of free lunch statistic, # of FRC awards won, and # of regionals attended. I can give you a rough prediction on whether a team will sustain over the next 5 years.
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Unread 09-06-2012, 09:03 AM
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Re: Should FRC Account for School Size?

Putting teams into divisions by school size or level of poverty at the school would broadcast a bad message. That what maters the most, what makes the most difference, isn't how hard or how smart you work, but factors beyond your control. It would imply that the rich and successful will always stay that way, and that everyone else is a member second class, too dumb to be "competitive" and to poor to ever get there. I couldn't think of a less American statement.

I don't participate in FIRST because I think I can win. Anyone else who believes that this is the sole purpose for anyone to participate should be prepared to readjust their beliefs. And even if it is, competing with the best should inspire them to think and to work harder, not to concentrate on how "unfair" material differences are.
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Unread 09-06-2012, 08:52 PM
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Re: Should FRC Account for School Size?

I think that FTC adequately solves this problem. FTC is very fair in terms of external resources
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Unread 09-06-2012, 09:17 PM
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Re: Should FRC Account for School Size?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ~Cory~ View Post
I think that FTC adequately solves this problem. FTC is very fair in terms of external resources
FTC now allows unlimited machining. FTC used to be fair in this regard (especially back in the Vex days), but now there's little in the rules stopping the high resource team from beating the low resource team.
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