It seems to me the last sentence holds the flaw in this logic. These outreach programs and pre-rookie experiences are designed so that there will be no level 1 teams. Through the cameraderie and connections made through competitions, teams gain many resources more than the hunger that comes from winning and losing. They gain friends, associates, colleagues, possibly sponsors.
Events that treat teams evenly, regardless of veteran status or accolades, raise everybody up. Pre-rookies start as 3s and 4s, and together we rise. Perhaps some of these teams that start with a borrowed robot may create black-belt programs in the near future.
I am fortunate enough to be on the planning committee of an offseason event in October. We choose to focus on creating a warm, inviting atmosphere to those new to coopetitive robotics. In 2009, we had two pre-rookie teams play with borrowed “practice bots” - one of them now hosts their own annual VEX competition; the other became Rookie All-Stars. That team went on to help another team - whose first FRC experience came at our event - they became RAS as well. Another pre-rookie from 2010 - Rookie Inspiration, RAS, Regional Champs in their first year. This past year, we hosted three pre-rookies; two of them won Rookie Inspiration, one won Rookie All-Star, Regional Finalist, and Regional Winner.
I’m not arrogant enough to say our dog-and-pony show created these soon-to-be-pillar teams, but I think every experience is helpful. The more the merrier.
The TRR planning committee had a decision - should they allow one team the opportunity for more drive practice and experience, or should they allow a new team the opportunity to be inspired by the event. I feel they made the right choice.
Our team isn’t as competitive as many of our neighbors on the playing field - we’re getting there though. But the kids are still inspired, they still go on to postsecondary ed in STEM fields, they keep in touch and spread the mission of FIRST - that’s better than a full trophy case.