A letter to FIRST


As the new year approaches, and you reach ever closer to review whether or not to have in-person competitions in 2021, this is my plea to have a real competition season.

Six years ago, I went to a FRC event and was hooked on FIRST ever since. With two years in lego league and three and a half in FRC, FIRST had been the sport I always wanted to get into, but never had. I’ve learned so much, and grown so much as a leader and a person.

Even with that, a FIRST season will never come close to a normal season without a real competition. People say that FIRST isn’t about the robots. I disagree, FIRST is about robots, but it is more than that. There is the learning aspect of FIRST which is also an essential part of robotics. However, it is still the FIRST Robotics “Competition”, not FIRST Robotics “learning opportunity”. Once again, I’m not denying that if there is no competition, then there is still opportunities for students to learn, and I think every team should try to still provide those opportunities for their students. However, that is still no substitute for a real competition season.

I understand all the different obstacles that stand in the way of this reality. Of course, COVID is the primary concern. Not just wanting to slow the spread of the virus, but also with the gathering restrictions in each state. I understand that, in the end, this may make it extremely difficult or even impossible. However, my hope is that, either things calm down enough to where competitions become viable, or that you are able to work out a way to have safe competitions.

Last season before the shutdown, I had my first competition as a driver, and frankly, I felt as if I let my team down after losing in the first round of the playoffs. To not have a second chance that season was already bad enough, but if I never got that final chance to help my team get another banner before I graduate, I would be extremely extremely disappointed.

So please FIRST, find a way to have competitions this year.


P.S. I have the utmost respect for FIRST, and I will respect whatever decision they comes to.


The US hit a daily death record again, so this plea seems premature to say the least.

“Is an in-person high school robotics competition worth the COVID risk” is going to have different answers depending on the person or legal entity such as FIRST. Unless vaccine distribution changes radically, I don’t really see FIRST having a “real” competition season this year.

Just as there are sure to be large New Year’s parties tonight, I’m sure unofficial competitions are in the works with varying degrees of safety. There might be one in your area.


I’m a senior. FIRST, please do not have in person competitions. We are in a global pandemic.

John R

Unless a miracle happens but right now it looks like we are not headed in the right direction at all (and massive robotics competitions with months of in person preparation by large groups of people doesn’t help that)


This is really the key. Individuals may go for it, but organizations that have to consider their legal liability are going to be extremely risk adverse right now.

There is hope, at this point, that we might be past covid restrictions by the end of the summer, now that vaccines are being distributed and we have a planned timeline with distribution amounts. But things can, and do, change. The original plan, when the vaccines were being passed, was to vaccinate 20 million people here in the US in December. In reality, we’ve gotten 12.4 million doses distributed… and of those, only 2.8 million people have actually been given their first shot. I think everyone hopes things pick up and we get back on track… but the reality is, based on what we know right now we have to expect the timeline is going to slip and it’ll take longer than anticipated to get people vaccinated.

I can tell you - everyone responsible for holding events (HQ, districts, RPC’s, etc) have been doing everything they can, short of signing venue contracts obligating payments, to get ready for hosting events if we can. But it’s best to come up with alternative, safer ways to get the most out of this year as you can. Set challenges for yourself and your team, and rise to meet them. Instead of focusing on what you can accomplish on the field, focus on what your legacy will be as you pass on the team to new leaders when you graduate. The situation sucks, but there isn’t anything FIRST can do to resolve it short of waiting.


Yeah, I’m pretty sure there’s going to be competitions eventually next year, but I’m not sure what the point of this thread is. FIRST will have in-person competitions when it’s safe and there’s no point in holding them any earlier at this point.

We should also remember that FIRST is partially about advocating for science, and we can’t just throw that out and ignore the science just because it would be convenient for us.


Wow. Can’t see this getting toxic at all.


If FIRST were to hold in person competitions in early 2021 neither myself or my team will be going. Noting is going to magically change overnight when 2021 starts. There is a chance we could have late summer or fall offseason events in 2021 but it’s still too early to call. Too much risk of getting somebody sick or dying for the time being


Wow, that was a really fast Godwin’s Law.




I think the over 300,000 dead in this nation is good enough of a reason.

I don’t think facts will persuade you, I encourage you to seek help and leave your home for college and see more of the world out there.


And that’s just the US statistics, FIRST is a global organization so they have to consider every other country too. Doesn’t look great


Can you do that 98% math on the entire US/world pop and give us the amount of people who will die? It’s simple math.

Edit: Because of good moderation this thread is closed but I’ll do the math just incase you see it. Google estimates 328.2 million people in the US, if everyone gets COVID and there is a 98% survival rate, that means that 2% dies. 328.2 million * 0.02 = 6.564 million people.

With the number you gave us, 6.564 million people would die if we didn’t “squash our civil liberties”.

I personally like how those civil liberties are, checking my notes, wearing a mask outside, limiting gatherings, and not being able to dine in at restaurants. I would recommend you take a look at other authoritarian governments and understand what they did before making inane comparisons to the loose “guidelines” we have here.