Is FIRST missing something?

Sitting here watching college football today, it occurred to me that sports has something that I haven’t seen in FIRST: Rivalries. I grew up in Columbus OH, so I know all about sports rivalries. They can be both good and bad. On the plus side, they give the team, school, and community a reason to pull together and work towards a common goal. On the negative, they can be handled by individuals poorly.

Through the past 3 months of college football, I’ve looked forward to today’s game against Michigan. As OSU continued to win, this game only grew in importance as the capstone to a great season. Even though I live 700 miles away now, I got pulled back into that community more and more as we got closer to today, and I think that can only be considered a good thing.

However, FIRST is set up to specifically discourage rivalries between two teams with the emphasis on Gracious Professionalism. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing (I love how teams help each other out), but the competitions do lack something in the expectation and the build up towards a big game against a school rival. With the random alliances during the qualification matches, each match is viewed as a conglomeration, and a question of which random pairing is stronger. You’ll look at your schedule and think “well, this one should be an easy match, but that one we’re going to get trounced”. Even in the Elimination matches, it’s not about which teams your against, since you’ll likely never had the exact same 2 alliances playing each other in multiple years. It’s just about trying to get that win, like any other match but with higher stakes.

I would love to see a way for FIRST to let teams play the same alliances against each other every year (for specific rivalry setups). I know, with the regional structure you can’t always guarantee that the same 6 teams will be at the same regional. But for the sake of argument lets say you can (for example, they all always sign up first at their local regional). It would be awesome to allow these teams to form their own alliances and rivalries in order to play “pride” matches at some point during the competition (During lunch? Between elimination matches? As the first match after opening ceremonies, or a final match to kick off closing ceremonies?). They wouldn’t count for anything as far as the competition goes, but they would give the teams something to work towards beyond winning the competition. It would help to encourage teams to work together a bit more, at least as far as build season strategy and robot design. It could also help get the schools and communities more involved in the build up to the Big Game".

Just some musings after watching a day full of big school rivalry games.

If this were implemented i would see it as practice matches and two teams with mentors and students that knew each other having a constant sense of trying to outdo each other, which could be wonderful. but i see, the newer kids who aren’t use to a GP environment treating it with hate and making it a bad thing.

Even without the match scheduler, rivalries can totally happen. Mentors on 2815 (backed by the University of South Carolina) and 4452 (in the shadow of Clemson University) have traded a few friendly jabs this week and last year when they were with other teams up there. There may or may not have been a bounty for getting one of our “IT’S GREAT TO BE A GAMECOCK” bumper stickers on their robot (though nobody did it). :wink:

I suppose a on-field rivalry could be implied between us and 343. Set aside geography (they too are fairly close to Clemson) and our common ancestry (both teams have Donn Griffith at the top of the family tree), and you’ll find we’ve crossed each other in eliminations there times in two seasons: Palmetto 2011 finals (1v4, we won), Peachtree 2012 quarterfinals (1v8, they won and ended up with silver), and Palmetto 2012 finals (2v8, we won). They put up a heck of a fight each time, but we’d just as gladly play with them!

I get what you mean, but I think you’re in the wrong when you say “rivalries don’t exist”.

I think rivalries in FIRST are handled in a slightly more light-hearted manner in that, they are not rivalries per say, but just close teams who would love to butt heads.

I think that any time a powerhouse faces off against another powerhouse, it’s sort of like two rivals going at each other. They both want it bad, and each team gets those “bragging” rights. But, after it’s all over, everyone comes down on both feet, and no one feels worse for the wear.

If your definition of rivalry is where teams have die-hard fans, insults are endless, and the community is divided among the colors of their shirts, then perhaps rivalries aren’t FIRST.

  • Sunny G.

It’s definitely a hairy topic.

While overall I agree with you, one problem I could see are super-alliances. Imagine if very experienced teams that do well every year make their “alliance”. Every year they’d be very strong and trounce tons of teams.

The way it’s set up now diffuses the strength of those few really exceptional teams and “evens the playing field” sometimes (while at other times making for a very unbalanced game).

What we’re trying to do for next year is work closely w/ a nearby team and practice together so that when we get to the regional we’re confident in eachothers abilities and would be willing to choose eachother should either of us get to elims.

Something we do at debate tournaments (I know, a bit off topic) is called powering. I think powering would be great to use. Essentially, after every team has competed about 2-4 times, you begin to “power” them. You pair the lower ranked teams with other lower ranked teams and pit them against other lower ranked teams. You do likewise with higher ranked teams. That eliminates the disbalance between randomly selected opposing alliances that is often seen at regionals.

Doesn’t address most of what you’re saying, but it’s a step forward.

At the off-season competition, “Where’s Wilcott” in CT, there’s an extra team, called the TorMentors, Team 666. Mentors can sign up, to drive, coach, or be play human player, on Team 666 (This year the robot was 228, Gus Robotics’s practice robot). Most mentors sign up to play when there own team is playing so that they can face them, or play with them. When they play against them, the announcer always makes a big deal of who will be better.

This is the most entertaining thing, because the mentors can rarely even drive the robot in a straight line. This year one of our mentors was a human player. When he was throwing the basketball in, it reflected of the wall and hit him. (caught on camera)

There are multiple “rivalries” in the Midwest (WI/IL/IN/MI - ish) alone, and one frequently sees “grudge matches” in the eliminations of events like Midwest Regional.

I’m curious - are there any well known examples of scenarios where rivalries between schools in athletic sports have carried over into FIRST?

I think there’s one between 3309 (servite) and 4141 (mater dei) but I’m not really sure… /s

I think there’s one between 3309 (Servite) and 4141 (Mater Dei) /s

Oh, rivalries exist. Most of the time it’s between teams from the same city, especially if there’s collaboration. You get students from occasionally rivalling schools together, and there’s bound to be a bit of competition to see who can do better, not just against each other, but overall.

Karthik has a great speech about the big Canadian rivalries too (188 vs 2056/1114). GTR 2010, F1.

My vote for most-storied rivalry? Gotta be 67 vs 1114:
2007. Curie Semis. 67 (1732+48) tops 1114 (469+1523) in 3 matches.
2008. Einstein Finals. 1114 (217+148) becomes World Champs (over 67+16+348).
2010. Einstein Finals. 67 (177+294) becomes World Champs (over 1114+469+2041).
2012. Archimedes Finals. 1114 (2056+4334) squeezes out a win vs 67 (2826+4143)

Fun fact: the last 2 times 67 met 1114 in the Champs Elims, they also had to beat 2056 (Einstein Semis 2010 (2056+1625+3138) and Archimedes Finals 2012) That’s the birth of another great rivalry right there.

Like I said, this was something I hadn’t personally seen before… I’d be interested to hear about other rivalries in FIRST, and how the teams involved have treated it!

We have something kind of like rivalries in Florida. It is more like friendly banter. At Panther Prowl a member of 1902 was talking to a member of 180 and said “Do you know this is the first time since 2007 we have progressed further than you at a competition?” or in Orlando a member of 2383 walked up to me and said “This is the first time our team has ever beaten yours” though I do think that at Orlando this year it would be cool if there was an exhibition match between Pink and SPAM (as well as two teams of their choosing) since they were the Alliance captains of the two final teams on Einstein

Our lead mentor wont allow us to have a rivalry with the other high school in town (2470), which in all other sports is a rivalry. She says it is ungracious to have a rivalry between us and that we have to help them. These thoughts are of course unpopular with are students. Though this year we didnt have a rivalry match, but in order to try to win are last qualification match at 10k lakes regional we had to ram there fallen robot up the alliance bridge to attempt a double balance. (FYI it nearly worked)

I think all FIRST team relationships are, in essence, friendly rivalries – with the emphasis on the “friendly”, right where it should be.

There might be a bit of a rivalry between us (111) and our friends, the Thunderchickens (217). We’ve met twice on Einstein so far: once in 2009, and again in 2011.

And yet Wildstang would have no qualms about asking Thunderchickens onto their alliance, or accepting an invitation, if that would make for a beneficial combination.

That’s the difference in rivalries in other sports - no alliances. In FIRST you want to beat teams; some teams you may even want to beat worse than others. Yet you need to remain on cordial terms because later in the weekend you may be working together.

It’s one of the things that makes FRC unique, and in my opinion, better.

I’d say that every team has their own rivalry going with another team somewhere. It’s certainly not anything like college or pro rivalries, or even high school rivalries, but I think everyone has got a team or two that they face at a local regional and strive to do better than.

Karthik, being mentioned, he also had a pretty good 2056-1114 history speech at GTRWest last year.
There’s also a friendly rivalry between the teams down in Texas, particularly 118 and 148, though that might just be an off the field prank rivalry…(Who says 148 is all serious and no fun? :smiley: )

Our school, Saguaro High School, has a nationally known rivalry with 3019’s school, Chaparral. Our football game is televised every year because both stands are always completely full. In the past, there has been violence surrounding the game, and most years there’s some act of vandalism between the two schools.

Regardless of the rivalry in every other program (including other science competitions) our robotics teams work closely with each other. We share a mentor, a bit of build space, tools and a lot of knowledge.

I remember last year at the Arizona Regional one of our programmers was over in their pit helping them right up until they had to go into a match against us.

And what makes FIRST great? 2006 GLR Included 1114,1503, and 67 on an alliance together that took gold. The first time these two teams ever faced each other in actual competition was Match 8 at that event. What a start to this explosive “rivalry” http://www.thebluealliance.com/match/2006glr_qm8