I foresee a problem in the next ~3 years. First is running out of 4 digit numbers with their current numbering system. FIRST has historically solved this problem by ignoring it, instead opting to keep the status quo of counting. FRC is about to cross 4000 teams, and yet at the same time we are about to cross team number 10,000. 5 digit numbers are a lot harder to remember than 4 digit number and I would prefer a system that was better.
FTC had 7,610 teams in 2020. At the same time, the last team registered in 2020 was team number 19,343. Team 10,001 was founded in 2015, and according to Wikipedia, there were 4,445 teams in that year.
I have a long history of starting controversial conversations on chief, so I want to start a discussion about what a better option could be, and what are the chances that we can get it implemented(if others agree). Hopefully this is a less controversial discussion than my last post. I’m pretty sure most of us would prefer any solution here to trying to remember team number 19,343 during alliance selection(no offense, Alphas)
So here are my proposed solutions, some are better than others:
- “The 1 is silent”
What if we officially give them 10,000 numbers, except we skip 10,001, 10,004, 10,005 that are used by active teams. Then everyone could refer to the rookies without even mentioning they have a 1 at the front of their number. No confusion on “which 47?” because there is only one 47 remaining. Over time teams might get brought back, but I think that’s a rare enough occurrence that the chances those 2 teams are ever in the same competition is rare. And one or two instances of “do you mean 47 or 10,047” isn’t the end of the world.
Does anyone have data on how many team numbers that previously died out get brought back each year? I think this has a big impact on what the best solution is.
- “Defragment everyone”
Just shift every team to have a number lower than 4000. Maybe teams lower than 4000 can elect to keep their number, or you randomly assign everyone a number in the sake of fairness. I don’t have this one super figured out, but it might be worth an extra 4 years of 4 digit numbers. - This is by far my least favorite option.
- “No more reviving your old team number”
Instead of giving rookie teams 10,000 numbers, we just start over at team number 2 and fill in any number not currently claimed by a team. There would be no way of knowing if a team was founded in 2025 or 1992 by their number*** You wouldn’t be able to tell if a team was a rookie or a veteran anymore, but the low number teams have benefitted enough from their low numbers. Lets even the playing field a little bit. This has the side effect that if a team that has disbanded and wants to come back, their number might be taken. I think this is a small price to pay honestly. Those revived teams can’t get rookie funding grants so the cost benefit never really pays out.
***which by the way is already true. Team number 1 was founded in 1997, but team number 191 was founded in 1992. I’ll let someone who was alive at the time tell us why.
- “Alpha-Numeric Regional Codes”
What if we added a leading area code to everyone’s number? 4909 becomes N4909 for New England(or something). I think this would be really cool at worlds to know where a team is from based on their number, and everyone in a district would have the same code so you wouldn’t need to display it.
For rookie teams, you would interlace them into the unoccupied numbers similar to idea 3.
If a team transferred districts, I guess they get a rookie number? or maybe they keep their area code? Or we don’t give out duplicate bottom 4 numbers to anyone?
4a. “3 digit team numbers”
This same method might even allow everyone to have a 3 digit team number inside of 1 district. With either a 2 digit numeric code or 1 alpha-numeric code. This sucks because everyone needs to relearn their team number like in defragment everyone, but is kind of nice because then everyone only needs to know 3 digit team numbers while competing in district - unless you are Michigan in 10 years.
- “Anything you guys think of”
So I have very strong opinions that FIRST should not keep doing what they’ve done for FLL and FTC. But I might not have figured out the best system. Does anyone else have a better idea? Has this idea been talked about before?