FAHA: When your team insists on cheating

Sometimes you are in a very tough position with your team. It is never easy to make the right decision without getting yourself in a lot of trouble. What advice can you offer this fellow FIRST-A-HOLIC?


Our robot went into the crate unfinished, but definitely finish able by the end of Thursday at our regional. However, I just found out that the few team mates(mostly mentors) stayed an extra hour to pack our robot removed parts of it to be work on it later. I have talked to them about this, and they are all aware that it is illegal, but said that all FRC teams do this (I know this isn't true) and that FIRST doesn't have a way of checking this (true, but still anti-GP). They have also discussed other ways of seriously cheating through the build season.

I have tried talking to them about this, and they continue to insist that they can get away with these things, while completely ignoring the fact that it is anti-GP. I almost want to turn my team in, but then the FIRST experience would be ruined for the majority of the members who obey the rules. How can I bring my team back to the experience I had when I involved when things were fair?

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Anonymous Response:


Your teammates choose to cheat, and they know it's cheating. They think it's OK because "everyone else is doing it". That is never a good reason. If everyone else jumped off a bridge, would they jump? Also, most FRC teams that I know about follow the rules. So their reasoning is invalid. However, I am quite sure that they won't listen to that, which puts you in a hard place.

Since the mentors are at fault, talk to the school administration, *if* you are on good terms with them. This would be effectively the same as a sports team cheating...but could hurt the team a bit.

If you can't do either and get the cheating problem addressed, you have two or three choices.

  1. Go along with it. By the original post, you don't want to do that. That leaves the two options that are going to cause problems.
  1. Quit the team. Especially if you are a valuable member, this will probably get their attention.
  1. Blow the whistle.
Remember what Gracious Professionalism is? The simplest definition is, "doing what would make your grandma proud." I know my grandma wouldn't be proud of me if I cheated! Also, the term has two parts: "gracious" and "professional". Sometimes, an employee has to report wrongdoing by his employer to the government. This could be one of those cases. However, sometimes going to upper management can fix the problem.

So, here is what I would recommend:

  1. Administration. Remember, the team represents the school (or other organization). The school isn't going to want cheating to tarnish their name.
  1. Blow the whistle.
  1. Don't return if they are going to do it again.
Assuming that you have to go to step 2, choose who you talk to carefully. If you are the student who has to sign the inspection form, you could refuse to sign it, for the reason that the team wasn't in the time limits. The team can work around that, though. Otherwise, the regional director might be a good choice. He can call FIRST HQ for instructions, and the team may remain anonymous. 

If the team cheats on the field, the refs are there for a reason. Also, if the robot is modified after inspection, other teams can call for a re-inspection.

The most important thing to do is impress on your team what GP really is. There is a reason that very, very few teams even think about violating the time limits, even fewer do it, and fewer still get away with it.

FIRST-a-holic Anonymous mailbox is a place to share your concern and frustration about your FIRST experience anonymously. It is the perfect place if you just want someone to listen, or ask for advice when you don’t know what to do. Submit your letters today at the FIRST-a-holic anonymous mailbox forum. If you wish to respond to this thread anonymously, please PM Beth or Bharat with your response and thread title.

Working on robot parts after Ship is not by itself illegal. There are specified work periods with time limits known as “fix-it windows”. Some of those windows can only be used for making identical spare parts. Other windows can be used for making upgrade parts, that is parts with more functionality than those they replace. The availability of these windows depends on just when your regional is. Week 5 Regionals have more pre-event time than those in Week 2.

If your team works during the specified time periods, for no longer than the specified time and the total weight of fabricated parts brought into your venue is less than 25 lbs then the parts might in fact be legal.

The rules governing this <R29-R32> are almost a page long, not counting <R40 and R41> which cover the amount of material that you may bring into the arena. They are too long to reproduce here in their entirety.

So it might be that your mentors and team mates did not take the time to explain to you in detail why their actions are in fact legal. This is a problem because it troubles your conscience un-necessarily, but not a major violation of the rules. If you were asking about this as they are struggling to get the crate closed up for the truck that is due any minute, than I can somewhat understand a blow-off type answer. But they should have gotten back to you after the crate was safely on its way and explained what was up.

On the other hand if they did this intending to violate the established windows or in ignorance that fix-it windws do exist, then it is a different sort of problem and much more serious.

Read up on the rules mentiond above. Ask your teammates how thier actions are in compliance with those rules. If you are not satisfied with the answers then you might discuss the situation with the Head Inspector at your Regional. The Regional Committee Chair will know who that is and can refer you. If you still think there is a rule violation then you might have some hard choices to make, but I hope it doesn’t come to that.