**FIRST EMAIL**/Special Message from the GDC

FIRST EMAIL/Special Message from the GDC

Greetings Teams:

The CoopertitionTM Bridge in Rebound Rumble is this year’s method of fostering Coopertition and Gracious ProfessionalismTM among students while inspiring an appreciation of science and technology. The white bridge’s purpose is to motivate participating players, teams and alliances to collaborate with other players, teams and alliances (even in the heat of competition) by rewarding them for working together. Coopertition and Gracious Professionalism are tenets of FIRST – they are part of what makes FIRST different and wonderful; all FIRST participants, teams and alliances should strive to exercise those principals at every given opportunity. To quote Woodie, “FIRST does not celebrate being an incompetent jerk. FIRST does celebrate high-quality, well-informed work done in a manner that leaves everyone feeling valued.” In other words, bullying, coercion, and unsportsmanlike conduct have no place in FIRST. We expect all teams to always try their best to accomplish the tasks at hand, and always push themselves to achieve even greater successes. Best of luck to all of you as you continue to balance the real-life struggles of competing against each other while cooperating with each other – both on and off the Court.

Go Teams!

FRC Team Support

It’s good that GDC is emphasizing the value of FIRST that people seem to be forgetting at competition. It’s bad that they even have to say it like this specifically in response to team behavior.

Was this special message in response to a recent incident? It may not be constructive to recount it on this forum, if so, but I was mystified to receive this email. “FIRST does not celebrate being an incompetent jerk” is a memorable inverse of “exercise gracious professionalism.”

For my part, I was very impressed with the way that teams didn’t kvetch or steam when we had a one-hour delay at the MAR CHA competition here in Philly. It would have been a natural opportunity to blow a gasket. 365 MOE wasn’t able to run in one match (they happened to be our alliance partners), but they didn’t moan and complain, even when their bot sat out like a toaster because of a communications failure. We saw so much GP during the CHA competition that we’re still amazed. (Favorite quote, from one of our team members, about team 341 (Daisy): “They’re so nice, it’s SCARY!”)

–The happy rookies from 4373

Was this special message in response to a recent incident?

You can read about the events that transpired in this thread.

I think what bothers me about this “announcement” is that there is still no overturn of the points or rules involved. Thus while encouraging teams to act one way, it unfortunately doesn’t incentivize them to do so.

When GDC “ruled against” the 6v0, they actually made a points change that would effectively discourage alliances from working together.

But this is just a statement, no rules change… so where do you draw the line?

I think its clear that knocking a team off the coop bridge would be in violation of this intent, as would coercing a whole bunch of other teams (not even on your alliance) at an event to go against another team… but what about the grey area that this leaves?

We had an “incident” at FLR that left me wondering. We were on an alliance working with two teams that didn’t have a huge scoring potential. Thus we needed to take on the role of primary scorer. We approached the other alliance to do the coop bridge, and had offered to send one of our alliance partners to go do the bridge with one of their teams. The team sort of leading that alliance really wanted to do the coop bridge with us, not one of our partners, but reluctantly agreed. 5 minutes before our match, one of their students came over and told us they weren’t going to bother doing the coop bridge if it wasn’t going to be with our team. We said we would not do that, but could ensure our partner got there early enough if they were worried. They got mad and declined. Thus no coop bridge.

Back story that we put together is that they were smart enough to know we were going to be the primary scorer, and they also had enough data to know it was highly unlikely they could outscore us, so they wanted to effectively “take us out” to give their alliance a shot at winning. And we weren’t willing to stop winning to get the coop bridge. So where did that leave us? Both of us suffered in ranking… We won, but got 2 rank points instead of 4, they lost and got 0 instead of 2. While I understand their position, looking at the math, I don’t think it was worth the risk on their end. I think they were getting greedy.

So where does the GDC’s statement put us for the situation we encountered? Does the GDC think that the team I mentioned should have just done the coop bridge anyway in the name of GP? Does the GDC think we should have given up scoring to go do the coop bridge and potentially lose the match?

Because the coop bridge effectively “takes out” one of your alliance partners for 45 seconds of the match, it is highly unlikely teams will want to give up their best scorer to do it, its also very strategic for teams to try and ask for the opponents best scorer to come do it. So who is right? Who should give in?

If we just go with the spirit of GP & Coopertition, my feeling is that the other alliance should have agreed to do it with any member of our alliance. It would get them 2 rank points either way. And while I understand their strategy, I do think it created a rift between us rather than a bond (our coach nearly blacklisted that team from our picklist - mostly for the late notice).

Concept and strategy behind it all… perhaps one of these years the GDC will be able to understand that teams are going to want to “game” the rank system, however it is written to maximize their potential. Intent or not, you get what you incentivize, not what you encourage.

The cooperitition award goes to the team with the highest difference between coop bridge balances compared to wins. It seems fairly clear to me they want us to place more value on the coopertition bridge than winning. If balancing on the cooperitition bridge means losing the match, why not do that? (we have) It’s the same amount of points for your team.

Not sure who said it, but I like it: “Losing a match with a balanced coopertition bridge is like winning. Winning a match with a balanced coopertition bridge is like winning twice.”

Kims, I think we can all draw a line between a team (or even alliance) deciding its in their best interest not to do the coop bridge in any given match. Up in Duluth, my team opted to go for the coop bridge almost every time. our drivers were good at it, and sometimes it worked. Other times it didn’t - the other robot wouldn’t show up in time, the other robot would flip off the bridge, etc. If we had chosen instead to go for the win and balance our own bridge, we would have ended up ranked a lot better - we lost a lot of matches that could have been won with a single robot balance, and our driver can do that in under 10 seconds.

So as far as choosing to go for the coop bridge or not… I think that’s fair game. Each team should work towards the best results for the alliance for that match. Actively working against your alliance members and the other alliance to stop a coop balance, or actively racking up fouls to ensure the other alliance wins, or encouraging other teams to act against their own interests in a match “for the good of the competition” is just plain wrong.

It’s bad sportsmanship and un-GP. They have rules against it in professional sports - it’s called throwing a game, and people have been kicked out for it in just about every professional sport out there. I’m not suggesting we go that far, but we shouldn’t be supporting teams who act like that.

All that said, How could we set up a rule to go against this? Racking up fouls… teams do that all the time, mostly accidentally. Someone playing aggressive defense could get a lot of fouls, but I don’t want to red card them for it. Some sort of rule in touching the coop bridge? I’ve red of strategies that assist balancing on here - a robot with a top a little less than a foot high drives under the bridge while two robots are getting on from the other side. The bridge tips onto the first robot, helping to hold it steady as the two robots get set, then the first robot drives away. Successful bridge balance that is exactly what FIRST wants to support. How does a ref decided if a team is trying to help or hinder the balance, unless it’s blatantly obvious?

How do you adjust the points to provide a team an incentive to not throw the match? It’s already in their best interest to balance the coop bridge and try to win - that’s how they get the most seeding points. I don’t think there’s much the GDC can do other than tell us their intent and state that those actions are not cool. From there, it’s going to be up to the volunteers and those on site to make the call, and find an existing rule they can wave at teams - such as T15, T16, and T17, which gives the head ref the ability to yellow/red card a team for their behavior.

The hard thing is do you value a plastic trophy or registration for championships more? In our team’s case, we don’t have a ticket to championships, so we ultimately want to win the competition. I would guess many teams are in a similar boat. So we would prefer to “win twice” than get a trophy. In our case, we weren’t against the coopertition bridge, we just wanted one of our alliance partners to do it instead.

And I don’t mean to nitpick, but 67 lost a single qualifications match at your event, and it was 24:28, and I would have to guess the team thought it was possible to win when they went for the coop bridge (since it was 24:8 when they did so). But either way, it didn’t impact your ranking since you seeded 1, 8 points above other teams (granted I get that it was only match 35, so you couldn’t be sure). In our case, it was one of our later matches where we needed the 4 points to get us up into alliance selection area. The other team had no way of making it into the top 8, even if they won the match. So instead of seeding 5th, we seeded 9th (which is exactly where we would have ended up if we got the co-op bridge and didn’t win). So ultimately it was just a loss for them, even for us.

Ultimately I think it depends… if you are on a dominant team that can do everything consistently, yeah, going for the co-op bridge every time is a good strategy. If you are a medium-high team, with no hybrid yet, where there is a risk you won’t get the coop bridge, and you need the rank points… I don’t think the line is so clear.

This message seemed to hit me by surprise. I was at the Autodesk Portland Regional and I have never seen so much cooperation, teamwork, or spirit from any any collection of high school students ever. Or individuals of any age for that matter.

There did not seem to be any boundaries between teams at all. Our team was out cheering for other teams who competed against us, and other teams at times were cheering for us for no apparent reason. Everyone was working to help whoever they could sometimes even if it left their own team at a disadvantage. People seemed to be celebrating just being there and competing.

I knew about the focus FIRST has on gracious professionalism, but to see it at that level in person just blew me away. This was the first regional competition I have ever been to, but I do not think I will ever forget the experience.

I wasn’t trying to say that the coopertition award is important, just that I think it coveys where the GDC placed the emphasis for this game. Outside of your specific situation, I think the best overall strategy is to try to get the coopertition points first, then worry about whether you can win the match or not.

It sounds like you were put in a tough situation. Your opponents insisted on putting you in a position where you felt you couldn’t win if you wanted to get cooperition points. Unfortunately the result was a situation where you felt you couldn’t win either way.

The negotiations on this coop bridge are brutal!

Last time I checked they still gave out awards for winning the regional, too. And does the coopertition award give you entry to the Championships? Not last time I checked… I think a lot of people are taking this announcement way, way further than the GDC intended (of course I don’t actually know what they intended) or what it should be.

I draw a distinction between throwing a game for personal enrichment (e.g. the Black Sox scandal), and not playing your best to benefit the team. After all, nobody gets banned when an NFL team starts its second-string players, having already clinched a playoff spot.

If it wasn’t going to happen at the regional, it would have happened (and I think it will happen again) at the championship. All the GDC is doing is reminding all of us of what FIRST is and its values - which are meant to be more important than the trophy and blue banners teams receive. The problem lies in the fact that those trophies and blue banners are, to some, more important - the competitive nature in us leaps out more.

I think that my thoughts of having “Co-Op” objectives in FIRST games from now on is not going to happen after this, as long as there remains no rules regarding the de-scoring of coopertition points.

Someone from the GDC should soon be able to write a book on Unintended Consequences.