Championships: Competition vs. Inspiration

There has been much chatter lately about the role of Championships. Whether as Cory puts it,

The answer to this question is how we want to accomplish the goals of FIRST.

Our mission is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.

Do we want to accomplish this by making Championships a place where we bring the highest level of competition from across the world to make the most intense game that the general population would want to watch? Or do we want to bring teams which would not normally attend Championships, and the sole act of playing with/against high caliber robots is enough to inspire these kids to pursue future STEM fields?

FIRST seems to have picked the path of inspiration, by the sole act of creating a 400 team Championship, and it works. I have friends on teams who attended Championships not because they fielded amazing robots, but because they got lucky and qualified in other ways. They have said that the single event of attending has changed their lives.

With all the talk that “Championships should be based on robot merit only,” or “RAS EI/CA should not give you a golden ticket to Championships” I thought I would try and explain that more competitive Championships is not the only correct way to spread the message of FIRST.

Although it is fine to disagree with FIRST’s stance on Championships, I would prefer if people weren’t bashful of people with the opposite opinion. If you would really like to calmly discuss which philosophy is the ‘better’ choice, I would prefer you do it here to not clutter up other threads with off topic responses.

Thank you for remaining civilized.

I think the hardest part of picking people for championships that have amazing robots, but get unlucky, and would not get a chance to go to worlds without such awards existing.

Below is copied with my thoughts on the awards.

I would disagree completely with this. The teams that earn those awards are the teams that strive for excellence. If you look at the 4 teams that won RAS at championship this year (4488, 4451, 4472, 4731), None of them actually won a regional. 4451 went to 2 events, were alliance captains at both events from seeds 7 and 5, made it to the finals in one event, but did not with their way based on performance. 4472 made it to the quarter finals from rank 11. 4731 ranked 19. And we ranked as the 4th seed at our event. All four of these teams had very capable robots, and so did many other teams. At championships, 4451 ranked 42, 4488 ranked 37, 4472 ranked 52, and 4731 ranked 94. But none of them would have made it without RAS. I saw first hand this year what championships did to the rookies on our team, and talking to them afterward they were all amazed and it is making them strive to be better.

I think its the 3rd picks at regionals that actually bring the Championship performance down. I know there are some regionals where the 3rd picks are deep enough to be amazing, but at a lot they are relegated to defensive bots because that is all that is left. I think that the teams that usually win the awards usually have better robots, and get picked higher, but because of luck don’t make it all the way.

The problem is trying to go though all of those 200+ qualifiers, and finding the ones the are truly excellent. I cannot think of a way to make that work fairly and correctly

I don’t have much to add other than this: We only went to worlds last year because of a quickly done RAS submission. Worlds completely changed the direction and motivation of our team. It’s a huge motivator for the teams that just haven’t fully understood what FIRST is about yet. Not sure if I would agree that that is a great reason to let them come, but it sure is a positive thing for a lot of teams.

Competition is inspiring, it’s that simple. Watching amazing matches happen at championships inspires me. Watching boxes on wheels doesn’t necessarily inspire me. I’m in support of making championships more competitive; the wild card was definitely a good start to doing that. My guess is that championships will always have waitlists until every region switches to a district model. Regional championships like MSC and MAR are vehicles similar in inspirational quality to the Championship event. Once we have regional championships in every region, then Championships will move to a qualify-only event.

Also, I have a mini rant about RAS, EI, and RCA. I’m all about celebrating culture change and inspiration, and i know the regional winners are up to the regional board, but does everyone notice something about the championship chairmans award winners? They have extremely strong programs in terms of the robot they place on the field and their community presence. I hope I don’t generate heat with this comment, but I believe that these awards should also take into account something about the engineering aspect of the team. How can a team share its excitement for STEM and lead others in the community when it fields a box on wheels at competition? I’d rather see the team that has a strong on the field presence and off the field presence than see the “chairmans only” team win the RCA. Why? Because part of every team’s chairmans entry should show a strong program for students on the team and the community. The robot doesn’t have to dominate every regional, but the model that the team expresses in its chairman’s submission should work.

Hmm yeah, I am also a bit torn on this issue.

Full disclosure: Last year, 3929 was able to attend because we won the MAR Championship Rookie All Star award. At World Championships, we won Rookie Inspiration (and apparently the last non-divisional one). Our awards last year included Chestnut Hill District RAS and 14th seed (quarterfinalist), Mt. Olive District Champions as the 3rd bot for 222 and 25 and Mt. Olive RAS, then MAR Championship RAS. Though we were extremely lucky to be picked by 25, at least it was some minimum competitive level.

I think that Rookie All Stars should be able to attend and compete, purely due to the incredible amount of motivation and inspiration that comes from attending. My students had much more motivation and determination after attending, and I would hate to see a first year team miss that chance.

When it comes to auto-bid with Chairman’s, I do think that there needs to be a universal point based minimum competitive level for these teams in order to be able to compete with their robots. This minimum point count doesn’t even need to be much, but I think it needs to be there. I’ve seen Chairman’s winners with semi-functional robots, which I am not sure I want to publicize as the ideal role model teams for FIRST to the public and to their peers. I know this sounds harsh, but even my rookie students were more inspired by teams with excellent and decent machines and Chairman’s awards than a team with just a Chairman’s award and a mediocre robot. But again, this methodology can only exist with a universal point system based off of FiM and MAR district models.

There needs to be a minimum competitiveness standard for veterans, but most probably not for rookies. Rookies really need World Championships to be inspired, whereas if you are capable of winning Chairman’s, you have probably already been inspired.

With that said, I’m pretty positive the students and mentors of 3929 are pretty confident that they would not want to attend Champs based on luck of the waitlist, unless a universal point system deems them worthy of competing.

Here’s a table of Average Rank in Championship Division this year for various methods of qualification. If a team qualified in more than one way (e.g. HoF and Regional Winner), they counted for both. The Rankings at the Championship were not quite representative of how good teams were. If anyone has a better suggestion, I’ll take it.

Method of Qual			Rank in Division
Last Year's Einstein Teams	26.3
Hall of Fame			29.33333333
By Rank from MSC or MAR CMP	30.57692308
Original and Sustaining Teams	33.28571429
Regional Winner			45.10526316
Wild Card			47.53846154
Engineering Inspiration 	52.48333333
Chairman's Award		52.95238095
Off the Waitlist		53.8
Rookie All-Stars		62.81132075

My team, while not entirely guilty of this, is definitely one of the teams that any person desiring “competitive” robots at Championships would pick out as “not deserving to be there.” Our robot started at the top of the height limit, was tippy, tried to do too much and ended up doing not enough. We won two matches in Curie, mostly on luck. We literally rebuilt key robot mechanisms, including the drive train and shooter and climber, almost a half dozen times during the competition season alone. This isn’t even restricted to this year. Our robots are fairly consistently ineffective.

And yet we qualified based on RCA. We spread our our team’s spirit for STEM through hosting mini-regionals, workshops, a week zero event, and mentoring over twenty FLL teams (and by mentor I mean we give them kits, computers, and personnel). I’m not going to go through the laundry list of things that my team and I personally have done to spread our excitement for STEM in our community, but we do it. We struggle and we improve, and this year we were fortunate enough to be recognized for the first with the Regional Chairman’s Award at the North Star Regional, where we’ve been submitting for almost six years.

Are we an absolute model team? Probably not. But our kids leave the program with a heck of a lot more than they came into it with.

When we come to Championships, we recognize the privilege that it is wholeheartedly, and we make the most of it. Out of the 50-odd people that came with us to Championships, 46 of them were full-time researching, interviewing, and connecting with other teams. The other four were our drive team.

I’m probably coming off as a bit defensive, and that’s because I am, because without my team having the opportunity to come to Championships, our team would have never had the impetus to change, to become better. We came because the judges thought we inspired our community, and we left with nothing less than a desire to spread the incredible enthusiasm from both effective and non-effective robots and teams that we saw at Championships to our community. To me it’s incredibly offensive to insinuate that our lackadaisical robot design somehow prevents us from spreading our enthusiasm to others.

I love FIRST and I love what it stands for, but I would have never been as enthusiastic and motivated as I am now if I hadn’t had the opportunity to see the incredible field at Championships last year, and this year. Our local competition isn’t always the most inspiring. Like most “low-competitiveness” regionals, we have a fair share of robots that struggle to even drive, much less shoot or effectively load frisbees. There’s a reason that a large proportion of Minnesota regional winners aren’t from Minnesota. There’s something to be said about low levels of competition inspiring low levels of improvement. When you were born and raised in a ditch it’s sometimes difficult to see out of it.

Chairman’s, Engineering Inspiration, and Rookie All Star are all incredibly important awards for FIRST because it enables teams that would not otherwise be able to to see the absolutely incredible nature of FIRST at the highest level. It’s important not to forget that the majority of FRC teams are struggling to even field a robot at all, much less compete. Maybe “rainbows and unicorns” isn’t the way to go, but it clearly isn’t the direction that FIRST has chosen-- winning EI, Chairman’s, or RAS takes serious work. It’s belittling to claim that these teams are any less representative of what FIRST is about that teams that build incredible robots year after year.

I don’t put much stock in teams attending Championships in purely a spectator fashion either-- it separates you by another degree from the life of the competition. I love FIRST and I love competition, and I hate seeing people complaining about teams that are, essentially, the majority of FIRST teams mucking up the finals. FIRST isn’t a science fair, but it also isn’t a basketball tournament. Sporting events are not designed for upward mobility, but by its nature, FIRST has to be. You don’t change culture by putting down eighty percent of your teams.

I’m going to step down from my soapbox now. I don’t believe anything I’ve written should be construed as disparging competitive teams, and I don’t intend it to. If it comes of that way to you, I’ll do my best to discuss it with you in a gracious and professional manner.

Can you break down Regional Winner/Wild Card by alliance captain/first pick/second pick?

What’s “inspiring” for me isn’t going to a high-production value competition with really awesome robots. I don’t actually care about all the loud music, crowds, big ceremonies, etc. Basically all the stuff that makes it similar to a sporting event. I go to competitions to compete with the robot I sunk hundreds of hours into (and this 10+ hours every day of spring break). For me, it’s about about the engineering challenge. I don’t want a “magical rainbow and unicorn filled experience”, I want a competitive championships that showing the best robots. In 2011 and 2012, my team was definitely not championship quality, yet last year we went to championships. I’m certain there were many other teams with much better robots. Team 1662 comes to mind as an example from this year. They were one of the best, if not the best, individual robot at Sacramento, but they were upset and didn’t get a spot at championships. I’d like for teams such as 1662 to be able to go to championships even if they don’t win. Right now, championship qualification matches are nowhere near as competitive as MSC, which doesn’t seem right.

Sure, but it’ll have to wait until I’m done with finals (Wednesday night). Between now and then, if anyone wants to do it themselves, PM me and I’d be happy to share my work. I just don’t have that data off-hand.

Championship will always be limited by those pesky real world constraints of time, space and money. I would like to see the problem solved a different way. Instead of having to go to championship to get the experience, bring the experience to teams that didn’t qualify, or team members that couldn’t attend, or family and friends that want to support their home team. How many people in this world actually get to attend a superbowl in a lifetime? Very few, but most of the population participates via technology (it’s beyond TV at this point) and feels inspired yearly. FIRST needs to continue to follow the sports model and support the fan base. At least they had the webcast on the homepage this year during championship, although getting to the scores was a few layers deep into the site.

In order to put on the most inspirational show, you need competitive teams. The district model is a good step in the right direction because it rewards well rounded teams with bids to the championship. I always thought an interesting twist on the points system would be that teams which did not get to go to the Championship the previous year started with some fraction of their points. This way if you are a team that is getting close every year, but missing qualifying, you get a chance to go. You still have to earn a significant amount of points, but not quite as many as a team that went the previous year.

Overall, my thought is teams should not just be going to get inspired, they should have performed well enough to earn a spot. However, FIRST should do better at showing off these outstanding teams and experience to the world and convincing the rest of the organization (and world) who is not in attendance to be inspired.

To those who have posted they went and were inspired, what part inspired you? Could that inspiration be closely match via a video camera?


I’ve only highlighted a portion of your post because I don’t want to clutter up the whole thread but I couldn’t agree with the entire thing more, especially this last bit.

On Chief Delphi, we often forget about the majority of FIRST. I met a girl in my ‘class of 2017’ Facebook group who loved FIRST and was the captain of her team but had no mentors, hadn’t read the manual completely by week 4, and asked me “what is Chief Delphi”. CD is an amazing resource but I feel like the teams who have members active on here tend to perform above that of the average team - whether it is because of CD or the better teams frequent here - is a question we can’t really answer.

There is nothing wrong with elite teams and their highly respected members here wanting the Championship to be an event with the very best possible competition.

However, we as a community have to admit that there are still quite a lot of latent issues with powerhouses dominating regional’s. I come from a team where a couple years ago we complained to no end about ‘NASA teams’ and the like. There are many FIRSTers who do not have the same gracious spirit Chief Delphi’s norms and culture have impressed upon me and still have the same feelings about ‘mentor built’ robots I did when I was a freshman. The issue isn’t that these teams dominate regional’s, it is that so many people refuse to be inspired by them and instead just complain.

A great way to perpetuate that and not have the majority of FIRST evolve is by quarantining the best teams at Championships and not letting the rest of FIRST interact with them. There are some people who watch every single webcast and would watch Championships whether or not they were competing but I think we are deluding ourselves if we think that number is anything over 200. There are over a million involved in FIRST.

Our team has been to St. Louis twice in the last two years. Last year, we built a shooting robot but never made a single shot in the top basket. Luckily, we built an incredibly solid drive-train and managed to captain two alliances on Coopertition balancing alone (yeah we were one of those teams). We came to Championship on EI and seeded 88th but ended up being picked up in the second round by the second alliance as a dedicated defender/feeder/balancer. Making it to the Newton Division finals was one of the best things to ever happen to this team, inspiring us to do better.

This year, we won a regional as alliance captain for the first time in eight years. That said, we had a very lucky schedule and managed to make some very good picks in alliance selections. Before we got to St. Louis, we decided that in its current configuration our robot was not competitive to play in eliminations and needed some drastic improvements. To cut a long story short, the improvements crippled our robot, making us one of ‘those robots’. However, this year’s Championship meant so much to our team, especially with nearly a third of it of it (20+ seniors) graduating.

This year, I spent the majority of the Championship not in our pit but walking around with the future leaders on my team, learning from the likes of 16, 254, and 1718. I firmly believe that going to the Championship to be inspired is the best thing that can possibly happen to a team and taking away that opportunity just widens the gap between the elite and ‘the 80%’.

Never. Watching a match is nothing compared to the chance to talk for a half hour with some guys from Cheesy Poofs about organizing their team, or the design process. I didn’t watch any matches at Championships this year other than eliminations, instead electing to go out and talk with and make connections to the hundreds of teams at the competition. Listening to Karthik via Talkshoe is nothing compared to being in the room, listening to him as the crowded room is nearly dead silent. Watching via a video doesn’t give you a chance to go to the City Museum after hours and run into someone, talk to them about FIRST for a half hour, and then see them and their family at the competition the next day (which happened to my this past weekend).

I don’t think you can ever match the experience of championships via proxy. It could probably be very good, if they didn’t just webcast matches, but also interviews and presentations and ceremonies, but it would never be closely matched. Championships is a magical experience.

That’s just my two cents though.

I do agree to an extent that robots should be competitive if attending Championships but at the same time I also feel that the wait list allows some teams the opportunity to attend an event they would never make it to based on awards or competition. By allows these teams to attend it honestly can make a world of difference to a team. It can give them the kick in the butt and the connections and friends to turn a less productive team into a kick-butt one.

As a team, 1802 has only attended Championships once in 2008 and that was because we were the Cinderella alliance and won the GKCR. This experience as a high school junior changed my view on how we ran the team the next. It also let me interact with teams that I never had even heard of. Before that Championship’s experience I only had local teams to reference from and look up to. Most commonly that was 1108, a now 7 time RCA team, because they were local and I had family on that team. If we had not graduated 8 seniors that year our next year may have gone a bit differently.

Our current team, to put it frankly, is uninspired. We have certain students that strive for excellence for the team and the mentor support to let it thrive but without the kids putting forth the work it will not happen. While I do not personally feel the team is Championship quality I feel the students would be inspired by attending and competing against truly amazing and awe-inspiring teams. Although we have not had the time and money for the team to attend we also would be skeptical of taking the team with their current levels of being uninspired because as much as I am currently in a “sink or swim” mentality when it comes to how the team functions, I do not want them to utterly fail. I think that would be counter-intuitive to what FIRST is about.

If the team had the time and the money I would put up an argument for the team to attend as spectators or volunteers while it is still in STL since it’s only 4 hours away. That way they can see the teams who could inspire them, listen to the lectures/presentations and possibly get something out of it and see what they can achieve with a little determination and work.

If you cannot already tell to me the inspiration would not be just seeing competitive robots it is the experience as a whole. The teams you can interact and network with that are considered elite, from another country or even just the HoF teams; the matches you can watch; the presentations and what you can learn; being exposed to all the FIRST programs under one roof. It’s every aspect that is inspiring not just a well performing robot.

This reminded me of something brought up between some fellow FIRSTers and I. It wasn’t necessarily any of our points of view, but it was brought up in our discussions:

What if only certain teams who qualify for champs via robot performance (ie regional winners, rookie all-star, etc.) were allowed to compete in matches, and teams that qualify in a non-robot-performance way are still invited for chairman’s presentations, exhibitions, etc. Basically, let the teams who proved themselves during the competition season compete in what they excelled at, and let the teams who were outstanding representatives of FIRST compete in what they excelled at. That way, everyone who qualifies can go, and even those teams with a robot not at championship-competition caliber can still experience the championship event and compete in their own competition (chairman’s, EI, etc.).

Multiple friends of mine who have gone to championships but didn’t do the best in matches have told me that what inspired them the most was the atmosphere. The events, the presentations, the people, and the robots. What inspired them wasn’t seeing their own team win a lot of matches, but experiencing the FIRST championship as a whole.

This is just an idea that we came up with. It’s not any of our main points of view, but it’s something.

My personal thoughts: FIRST needs to celebrate all kinds of teams: Those who perform above and beyond in the robot portion of the game, and those who perform above and beyond in the outreach portion. However, FRC is a robotics competition, and I want to see the highest-quality matches at the championship event. Watching a championship qualifier with low scores and little action doesn’t excite me. I know Dean has said “it’s not about the robots”, but amazing robot matches is what we all want to see. If FIRST were a tree-planting competition, I wouldn’t be here right now.

Our team has a guideline: “if our robot does not make eliminations at a regional, we don’t go to championships.” Does not matter what award we win that gets our ticket, we won’t go. We never have enacted it but it does put pressure on us to make a good robot. However, you might want to ask me again if we do qualify with a robot that did not make eliminations. This is an untested guideline.

Now, when I was on 766 this topic was heavily debated, in 05 I actually thought we should not go to champs despite wining a regional, of course we wound up going and got to win archimedes with 217 and 245. However all future times 766 qualified was by being the last pick of the alliance or via wait list. It sparked debate if we should even go if we were the 3rd member of the alliance. Its always the debate between going to champs, or investing the money for next year.

I just want explain there are team out there who debate this. You may ask, “why on earth would a team decline to attend if they earned it?” Well, i my opinion, and this is just my opinion. I have a duty to inspire and teach next year’s members too. Sometimes tough decisions are made. I held a philosophy that a powerful way to inspire someone is to teach them. To give them power to change their surroundings. The line to go or not to go is different for every team. Ours choices reflect our philosophies. For us we debate the rewards of going versus the rewards of staying. The opportunities created by saving money could greatly out weight attending championships. If I could teach student better for the next 4 years by saving that money, now I have to consider it.

So to ultimately answer this question, I will modify a Muhammed Ali quote. Competitions are won or lost far away from witnesses, behind the computer, in the garage, and out there on the road, long before under those lights. In those long hours, is where we find inspiration in ourselves. For what inspires is not another’s feats, but realize we have the power in ourselves to achieve that feat.

Thus I would make the championships more competitive for I chose to inspire my students by giving them strength. I know not all my student are inspired and there is more work to done. To achieve our duty, we don’t need to be at championships.

I think there’s value in letting a limited number of teams attend, despite their poor gameplay performance. Some of them are the winners of major judged awards—and I don’t think these slots are particularly contentious. As for the ones who lack other redeeming characteristics and frankly drag down the level of competition (some qualify via the waitlist, while others are the weakest links in regional-winning/wildcard finalist alliances), as long as there aren’t too many of them, I don’t really mind.

One reason is the opportunity for spreading the inspiration around. I think others have amply argued that case. I think it’s clearly plausible enough that FIRST should try to quantify its value and take that into account for the foreseeable future.

There’s another reason, which is perhaps a bit more controversial, because it goes to the heart of what we expect a championship to be. At every other FIRST event, save perhaps the Michigan championship, there are several of these less successful teams. Through what might charitably be called entropy (less charitably: bumbling failure), they introduce uncertainty into the outcome. Uncertainty in appropriate measure is what distinguishes strategic, replayable games like poker or Magic from dreary algorithmic recitations like Sudoku or chess.1 I support the proposition that FRC is made better by the good teams having to overcome the obstacle of dealing with the bad ones.

It’s like NASCAR vs. Formula 1: F1 is clearly the superior form of racing from a technical and strategic perspective, but over the last 20 or so years, has lost much of the uncertainty that comes from outlandish tactics and mechanical failures. By contrast, people watch NASCAR because of the crashes and the passing—things which are only made possible by the fact that the cars are bloated and archaic, and the tendency of the subset of drivers who are less skilled to make stupid mistakes that rearrange the running order by suddenly eliminating whole swaths of contenders. That sort of uncertainty makes it a little more rational to root for the underdog, and it also gives symbolic meaning to the competition—the winner is triumphing over both the competition and fate itself. A competition structure that better captures that balance is a major reason why the 24 Hours of Le Mans is better than either one.

In FRC, the moderate likelihood that entropy will strike down any given opponent makes the competition more fun (in aggregate) than if the best robot is always going to be the clear winner. It gives hope to the ones who fall short of greatness, and keeps the great ones from getting complacent about their odds of victory.

Make no mistake, I enjoy seeing robots dominate on technical and strategic merits (e.g. 47 in 2000, 71 in 2001 and 2002, 111 in 2003, etc.). I just don’t think that their ability to rightfully succeed is diminished by the presence of a few lower-calibre robots.2 The odds strongly favour the idea that at least two of the FRC champions will have earned that result based on a clear history of technological and strategic achievement, and that all of the champions will have demonstrated those characteristics throughout the elimination rounds.

In the end, the Championship is mostly about showing off the best robots and best strategies. But you don’t need to include the almost-as-good robots to prove that these are the best. Also, by allowing teams that exemplify other FIRST values to attend, along with their bad robots, FIRST provides fuel to power its engine of entropy. Conveniently, those teams with bad robots can still have a valuable experience by being in the presence of so many good robots, and by participating in the other activities that the FRC Championship offers them (from the conference to the socializing). This comes at the expense of the teams who have robots that are almost good enough, but now that FRC is as big as it is, there will always be teams left out—admitting them only shifts that painful burden to another team that didn’t quite make it.

1 You don’t have to be particularly mentally dexterous to have a clear idea of how chess can be won—and this high degree of certainty combined with the reality of inadequate computational resources sucks most of the fun out of it. In fact, the real challenge is in solving it efficiently, not in actually playing the game.
2 Provided that there are enough matches to adequately rank the divisions. Too few matches, and the competition suffers from outlier effects—which are distinct from entropy effects and are less desirable because they represent uncertainty due to a structural limitation of the event, rather than uncertainty due to surprises encountered during gameplay.

Out of curiosity, how much experience do you have actually playing chess?

Because I live with a FIDE master. Who is also a (winning) poker player. Who would take a whole lotta issue with this statement.

Mind, this has little bearing on your actual point - I’d just be careful with the broad-brush statements.

Let’s not forget that one of the greatest chances for inspiration lie with the shear number of people gathered in one place. If you come to Champs and do not stroll through the pits sucking up inspiration from everyone you see and talk to, you are missing one of the best opportunities of your life.

The reigning VOY speaks truth. Having been to two championships as a spectator, I have to admit I have not spectated any qualification matches. There is simply too much awesome in the convention center-half of the Championship experience. Strolling through the FRC, FTC, FLL, JFLL pits - I could (and have) spent days simply talking to kids and watching them get absolutely geeked about their work. Checking out Sponsor Row and seeing the awesome opportunities that wait - did anybody else notice that the President and CEO of Rockwell Automation was the guy handing out the yoyos at their booth? Multinational companies - world leaders in their fields - are fighting just to get an audience with these kids.
The experience of CMP isn’t competition-only. Sure, there are great amounts to be learned by standing shoulder-to-shoulder with 111’s drive team, or strategizing with 610. But at every event - district to offseason - the real gem is in the eliminations, and FRC is at the point scouting-wise where aside from the picking captains, we all realize that rank doesn’t matter.

Another way of looking at it - compare how FTC teams get invited to championships. There’s no end to the crying of how unfair that process is.