Since Georgia went to the district system last year, our choice of local regionals (something with ~6 hour drive) was greatly reduced. We’re thrilled to have the Rocket City Regional in town - a great success last year - but this year the 2 other closest regionals, Smoky Mountain and Bayou, are on the same weekend as Rocket City. I thought there was some sort of coordination among the directors to try and avoid that, but apparently not. I realize that most places are limited by dates available at the venues, but surely with planning starting a year ahead of time we can do better? Aren’t these regionals hoping to draw a lot of the same teams?
Upstate New York has the same problem with TVR and FLR and Pittsburgh being the same weekend (and we’re still waiting on the few regionals we have left).
It feels like the districts are getting lots of benefits and freedoms while regional teams are getting locked in and ignored.
Unfortunately for teams in areas still doing the traditional format, this trend will continue to worsen. As Districts spread, there will be more and more isolated pockets of traditionalists.
One element that could possibly help with that would be to start some sort of Hybrid style events as either Warm-up events for the for late season regionals, or “off season in season” style events for the early regionals to host events later in the season.
The concept would be to follow the District/off season style of event as far as format goes, but it would either be considered a regional or non-qualifying event (warm up, tune up, 2nd chance). These type of events would require a lot of work, most likely be the same or similar folks doing the regionals, but would help the area transition should they be concerned about transition to districts. It would also give team more play opportunities.
This style might be conducive to more remote countries where teams would qualify at an early regional, but get to do a “tune up” event later in the season. The “tune-up” might be good as part of a multi-year qualifying system.
IE, each season you do a regional early (say weeks 1 or 2) that has the typical regional qualifier. Then do a couple additional local “district style” events for points. Add a 7th or possibly even 8th Championship slot the following year where the normal 6 from the regional get to advance. Then the top 1-2 “points” teams from the previous year, but not one of the typical 6 would also get slots. For example, if you were #1 in the district points events, you would know you automatically will get a championship invite the next year. If you end up being one for the typical 6 advancers, it would go to the #2 points earner from the previous season and so on… That way they points earners would still benefit from at least a month or so to make travel plans. Being #1 would mean you get a full year. The other options would be to handle it where the #1 automatically has a spot, and then if they are one of the winners next year at the regional, their winning spot (CA or winner) becomes a wildcard slot (I actually like that flow even better).
Jim Z and I used to discuss possible options for this pre 2009 to help teams figure out logistics. He did a white-paper about Championship roll-over because of this. I think once Michigan districts was approved, he stopped looking into it heavily because there were other priorities.
I would think these extra events would/should be treated similarly to “extra districts” and just be a $1,000 team entry fee.
I agree totally, it’s just going to get worse for teams in areas that still operate under the regional model.
Regarding your proposal, I like the motivation and I think the idea has a lot of merit.
Unfortunately, any additional in-season events within the Regional model HAS to cost $4k. Maybe FIRST would be willing to relax some of the A/V and other requirements for the event style you proposed, but FIRST will not charge less than $4k to Regional teams. Unless something big changes in FIRST HQ, they will not sacrifice any FRC second play revenue opportunities by offering Regional teams a cheaper alternative to get more matches in-season.
Additionally, I’m baffled at some of the regional event conflicts (NY/PA and Rocket City Regional/Smoky Mountain/Bayou). This seems avoidable (obviously I’m not on any of the planning committees, so no inside knowledge).
We can’t keep up the two system model for much longer. Every event needs to become a “district” qualifying event, or this will continue to happen forever.
Here’s a half baked, useless proposal based on absolutely no experience that probably won’t work: The regions of the country will be divided into “District Regions” and “Transition Regions”. District Regions have a DCMP and a high density of events. Transition Regions will eventually have a DCMP and high density of events, but for now they don’t. The purpose of these Transition Regions is to allocate Championship slots based on geographic area while the DCMP structure is being set up.
Any team can go to any district qualifying event and get points. Teams in District Regions need to go to two events (maybe at least one in-district), qualify based on points for their local DCMP, and otherwise follow the same model they have been following. Transition Regions lack a DCMP, and they qualify teams for the World Championship based on the points earned at the first two events the team competes at alone. They just tally up the points once every team from a Transition Region is done and send the top X teams there. If a team competes at a single event, their points are doubled. At Transition Events, award based qualifiers just get to advance to CMP from the events directly. Regional Winners do not automatically but they probably qualify on points anyway.
This system has some fairness problems. A team could snipe weak events to get points in. A team could drop after a perfect first event to guarantee a WCMP bid. Everyone qualifies pretty late. These are real problems, but we just have to live with them, because it’s a lot worse than the prospect right now where hundreds of teams will be unable to do two events, and hundreds more will be forced into back-to-back weeks, in a way that only gets worse. We can’t force every region into districts immediately, so this way preserves the existing event density and structure while allowing freedom to cross district borders and allowing a more controlled Championship qualification structure.
Is there any chance of a regional event being hosted in a district’s geographical boundaries? Or is that just too far out there?
FIRST will never allow it.
I actually really like this idea. +1
You are probably correct, but if you change the model to be something that is not a regional… and does not have 6 championship slots… maybe they would consider the price reduction. Especially if you could show it in a manner that would not hurt their overall revenue stream. IE showing that you could engage 4X as many teams at $1K than $4K would be potentially revenue neutral, but I would imagine it would be more than 2X the inspirational value.
*I think, if you really want to get some movement, a case study for the importance and inspiration of iterative development needs to be made, and needs to get backing by the decision makers at FIRST.
There are enough teams that I am sure someone puts together a robot and it works relatively well on its first try. Most of the really good teams, I know, iterate on pretty much every system and piece of software. I would venture that no engineering or technical advancement comes out the box in its ideal configuration on the first go. Watching Slingshot, for me was seeing the improvements and the lessons and the iterations the team made. Fighting through issues is one of the biggest keys to success. Failure doesn’t build GRIT. Finding success after a failure builds GRIT. The heavily limited format of FRC, especially the Regional format, is an incredibly difficult to get very many cycles of improvement.
Being an LRI, I get the opportunity to talk with a lot of teams dealing with problems with their robots. There are few moments more inspiring to a team then finding the fix, and getting their robot working (even if it is just for the last qualifying match). I have also been witness to teams that never get their failures fixed… Watching a team give up because they no longer have anything to look forward to is pretty depressing.
It sure does put a crimp in our plans here in the SE. It will definitely put a greater strain on our finances as well if the situation remains the same.
Hopefully the decision makers can see how…“unideal” this situation is and will work toward a better arrangement, if not this year, then in the future.
We were extremely disappointed to see this too. We really enjoyed Rocket City last year; we got to see teams we wouldn’t normally see, and the social at the Rocket Center was very, very cool. Since it’s the same weekend as our home regional, it leaves us in a significant bind. We also hoped there would have been more coordination between regional directors, and we were assuming Smoky Mountains would fall on the same weekend it usually has (last week of March).
This leaves us limited to Palmetto (very early for us which we are not accustomed to), Rock City (many other East TN teams go, but 7hrs away), or Queen City (which frankly could be on the same weekend again as these).
I’d agree that we’re feeling extremely limited in this area of the country and something needs to be done about it soon, by at least next season. I’m especially worried that more states around us with more organized management will move to districts and that Tennessee will be left completely stranded.
I agree. Our home Regional is Rocket City, but we absolutely love coming to SMR. It’s only 4 hours from home and we have made lots of good friends there over the years. It is a great disappointment not to be able to attend.
We’ll probably end up at Rock City, Queen City or St Louis for our second regional since they are all about 6 hrs away… Orlando and Palmetto are also possible but they are 10 hrs away.
It’s gonna put a kink in the volunteer situation too. I often volunteer at multiple regionals… especially Rocket City, Smoky Mountain, and Bayou. If you attended any of these recently, you probably noticed that many of the volunteers are the same folks you saw a week or two before. This will be the first time I’ve missed the SMR.
On the bright side, I’ll have more of my vacation time available for non-FIRST activities.
I think the major issue is the venue availability. I know that for Finger Lakes Regional the event is held on a date the corresponds with RIT’s spring break. My guess is that Tech Valley scheduled theirs because that was a time that works best for RPI.
Unfortunately, the only way I see to get around this would be to change venues.
Well, I just put out an email to the regional director for Ohio and it won’t exactly be Queen City. Their venue there is under construction, so they’re moving it to Dayton, an hour north of Cincinnati. They don’t have dates yet.
Honestly, we’ll still probably go to that. I am just personally disappointed because I’m from and have family in the Cincinnati area.
I’m wondering what exactly is gonna be done about inspectors for sure. There is a lot of crossover there, and I know we’ve always had a long wait for inspectors. I just hope the waits won’t be longer this year.
Wow this is a really great idea. I feel like it would work really well for the western side of the United states at least(not familiar enough with other regions to speak on them). I would like to someday see Arizona or even Arizona and surrounding states become a district but between the current team density and large area per state, it seems we are very far away from that happening anytime soon. I feel like Arizona and the surrounding regions are pretty okay right now but I could see problems arising down the road as nearby big states start becoming districts like Texas and California. Having this transitional region applied to us though would give teams the ability to still go to events in California and Texas.
I echo Mike’s statements about relaxing the requirements of regional events in order to drive down costs for regional teams. However, I also agree that I don’t see FIRST lowering that second or third regional event income that they get from regional teams.
Seems to me like RPC’s are very hesitant to take the step to try different venues out. I understand it’s hard to replace a 60 team venue, but if we are talking 40-45 team Regionals, a lot of High Schools will do the trick and could be more flexible than a college/university.
Based upon this thread, poor scheduling can impact teams significantly, so finding some flexibility in venues seems like an important aspect that RPC’s should consider.
Just an idea, but a typical problem with large, spread-out states as districts is the ability to travel to two events, and also possibly a DCMP. Could we try out 1-play districts (vs. the 2-play everywhere else), with the DCMP for qualified teams? This would get teams going to CMPs the same number of plays (2 events - 1 district, 1 DCMP) as 2 regionals, albeit a little fewer matches than typical district teams.
Just an idea to discuss.
Man, reading this thread removes some hope. I was hoping the new Hudson Valley regional wouldn’t conflict with NYC but it seems that might not be the case. Hopefully SBPLI won’t conflict, either. That way we have a backup plan.
Why does the districts/regionals solution have to be complicated?
Regional teams not being able to attend an open district is a weird restriction, considering district teams can go to completely different districts to compete for no potential points- why can’t regional teams do that?
Team 20, for example, historically always competed with New England Teams, so why can’t 20 go to TVR, and then maybe 1 or 2 New England District events if they have spots?
5254 has been to off-seasons is MAR, but we can’t take open spots at MAR events?
Just give regional teams the option to attend districts the same way other district teams from out of the region do. That’s a decent short term solution IMO