(One thing I should note before I begin: The physical ribbons aren’t pins in and of themselves. They’re slipped onto a ribbon bar with all of the other ribbons, then pinned on. It keeps them nice and neat this way–sorry if this confused anyone before.)
Ah, now I understand the color thing. (This is what happens when you go through the pits exactly twice during nationals.) Assuming that it wouldn’t be an issue to produce them (should these become tangible awards for teams) and FIRST would stick to a set of colors, I wouldn’t have any problem at all with it.
Personally, I’m not fond of having to rank-order the awards, either. They’re all important awards, but one of the beautiful things about the way ribbons are handled (at least in my experience) is that you create a list from 1 to N with a list of ribbons in decreasing significance–hence having National Chairman’s up top and Longevity down on the bottom.
So, if your ribbon bar looked like:
111111 222222 333333
444444 555555 666666
Then ribbon 1 would be your highest award, and six the lowest. It makes things quite simple when it comes to ribbons–you can look at a ribbon and kinda know how far a team has gotten. Otherwise, you might see a team that’s won a championship, for example, but the first thing you see on their ribbons is a Judges’ Award. Until your brain deciphers the other ribbons, you think that that’s their highest award. See the idea?
One other thing to note on ribbons: they’re a general statement that you’ve earned X award. Like on my outstanding flight ribbon, I simply have the ribbon and two clusters–this means I’ve won it three times. I know that I’ve won it twice with Charlie flight my freshman year, and once this year with Bravo. To a well-informed person walking down the street, I’ve won outstanding flight three times. If they wanted to know when and with whom, all they’d have to do is ask. It’s less specific, but it lets you know in a glance what someone’s earned. You spot a team that won a division (assuming that you don’t know which division). While you know that much, the ribbon doesn’t say anything about when.
Personally, I see ribbons being like Jessica and her purses in that they can help spark a conversation. They also, hopefully, can help teams boil down all of their accomplishments into a nice, easy-to-understand set of awards which are easy to mount, wear, and display.
The only issue is that of some unscrupulous personnel wearing ribbons. It shouldn’t be an issue–few things are less GP than faking the funk–but there’s always someone. I guess the easy way to do if FIRST adopted the idea would be to have each team’s ribbon bar posted online. Unless you hack FIRST’s site, it’d be nice and easy to double-check–not to mention allow teams to print their ribbons off easily. (And if you were gonna hack the FIRST site just to give your team a few more ribbons, you have way too much free time that should be spent helping others!)