Limit team $

To balance the playing field for all team what do you think of a limit of say $50,000 to run a team. This would keep all teams working hard to keep within the limit ( what ever it set at). I find that there is a big difference rural teams who struggle to raise $10,000 for the season and urban teams that have better sources to raise funds ( I know some who raise $100,000) for the season.

Why limit teams who work hard for the $ they raise? Also this would be pretty impossible to track and enforce.

If you feel that your team is at a disadvantage because Team XXXX has more $, go and ask them how they worked for that $ and then work as hard as you can to get to their level fundraising wise.

Teams with more $ aren’t (typically) better because they have more $ they are better because they go out and work hard all year round to get that $ and they work even harder during the build season to use that money in effective ways to build good robots.

Limit = smaller programs = less inspiration = no

What costs are associated with running a team, exactly?

What else?

No, I don’t think setting limits on budget is a good idea. There is a limit on robot cost and the major components a team can use along with the robot weight.

Our’s is a sophomore team struggling to get funds, we know it is not easy to get mentors and sponsors, we have been trying and probably continue trying even when we have a sponsor with $50K. Some of the established teams have big name sponsors, they may have gone through what we are going through, I will not make any assumptions. The new team members may not know the struggle the team has gone through in 2002 or earlier.

What you see during the events may not be the full picture, its just a snapshot of that day or the season. Fancy robots with fancy lights may look too much, but the team may be using it as a marketing tool to keep those precious sponsors and get new ones. If our team had some money we would be doing the same… it will be part of our business plan. We believe marketing is as important as the robot design or fabrication.

Oh to have a $50,000.00 budget :rolleyes:

No two teams are alike. Some have full support of their school, other’s have to create their own 501c3 and purchase/rent their own building. The costs associated with both of those scenarios differ greatly. This is why their cannot be a limit on funds coming into the team.

Another example would be the differences in how far teams have to travel to get to a regional. Even if they went to the closest one to them it can still be a drive. Take for instance the fact that there are 4 team in North and South Dakota combined. They will have to travel out of state to go to a regional which means their costs would be different than my team who can get on a school bus and travel 30 minutes to get to the regional.

The playing field is balanced cost-wise for every team in reference to the robot. Look at 4.1.3 in the game manual. There has always been budget constraints for the robot in my 8 years in FIRST.

My reasons to not have any sort of budget cap (aside from the robot costing):

  1. Impossible to enforce.
  2. Could force some teams to pick between competitions, outreach, or other positive ways of spending the money.
  3. Ultimate budget does not strictly correspond to robot performance.
  4. Encourages students/teams to “quit when it’s good enough” instead of striving to be better all the time.
  5. Artificially cripples teams who may have to travel more, pay more for parts shipping, bring more students to events, or generally have higher overhead costs for whatever reason(s).

I have yet to see any pro-budget cap arguments that hold up to scrutiny.

What percentage of teams even have >= $50,000 budget in the first place? Whoever they are, put me in touch for some advice! :rolleyes:

Why bother capping the overall budget at $50,000? The robot is already capped at $4000, why cap the rest of the program? It’s been mentioned before, not all teams have the same cost of running. What field is trying to be leveled with a $50,000 budget?

What does capping a team’s funding accomplish? Is the idea to balance it for the teams that have less money? Why is this needed? If the point of the competition is to truly inspire students, why does your performance compared to other teams actually matter?

My team has the philosophy that our success is not based on on-field success. If the students can look on the robot and say that they learned something, that they are happy with the robot, they are happy with the season, then that’s all that we need to be sucessful. This can be done with any level of sophistication, any level of mentor knowledge, and any level of student engagement, but a team must look itself in the mirror and say that they truly care more about inspiration and not so much where they rank.

On top of this, teams that raise large sums of money do so not because some money fairy has blessed them with cash. They have to work for it; engaging sponsors, running fundraisers, raising their presence in the community etc. I was a member of a team that was in a fairly rural area in NH, and we worked hard to acquire our $25k budget so we could go to two events and make a trip to the Championship whenever we qualified. Was a jealous of the teams that could put in the same amount of work and collect $50k, or $70k? Yes I was. Would I ever degrade the work they did to acquire what they needed to accomplish their team goals? Never.

Robots are capped at $4,000. Capping a team budget would predominantly cut outreach and inspiration. Bad plan.

Such a limit would incentivize a smaller team size. It costs us more to go to tournaments than most teams because we do not have any regionals closer than 2 and a half hours away and we have an 83 student team to accommodate for travelling and lodging. $50k wouldn’t even get our team registration, travelling, and lodging for all of our tournaments in a single year.

This may also discourage partnerships with companies through sponsorship, which is something FIRST wants to encourage. Therefore, such a limit will directly conflict with FIRST’s mission and goals. FRC has a price limit on the robots for this reason, but there are too many factors that make it problematic to impose an overall budget limit on teams. Besides, what if we decide we pay for only the skeleton crew on the FIRST limited budget, then send the rest of the team as “independent spectators” who are really team members through a different funding organization? This would be incredibly difficult to enforce.

If an organization has clear and concise goals, like FIRST has, it is detrimental to make choices and impose limitations on oneself which directly conflict with achieving those goals.


This is just like attempting to cap the amount of regional a team can participate in each year, because other people are jealous of them.

I think we would all agree that FIRST is trying to make FRC similar to how a business is run. There are large rich billion dollar companies, and then there are small companies who can barely break even some years. FRC is the same way. We have the elite teams that have become successful, earned a lot of money and who people look up to for inspiration. This would be like those teams that make a $100 000 a year. then we have the small teams who can barely get to one regional, make their robot out of scrap material and aren’t as elite or inspirational, but these are the teams that look up to the elite teams.

If FIRST was to limit your budget, then why don’t governments tell Apple or Samsung that they can’t spend/make any more money then $50 000 a year. Because then you aren’t striving to be the best, because there is no “best”.

Do you think by capping larger “urban” teams that you will somehow create more money for smaller rural teams?

You certainly are acquainted with our team… Our budget is right around $50,000 as are many other teams…Quite a bit of the reason we have a large budget is because we have a very large team (over 60 members) and it costs a great deal to travel. We raise a very large portion of it by doing smaller things like yard clean ups and rummage sales, spaghetti dinners and letter campaigns…

These are all things a rural team could do…please let me know how we can help you raise money… We are actively trying to train teams in how they can do this… it does require a commitment from students and parents and mentors to do it… it is a 12 month a year effort.

I have to disagree… it is precisely those small teams that are the most inspirational to me…

I think the thing that separates the really great teams is organization. Getting organized is tough.

Your robot can cost $4000. That “levels” the playing field. Yes, “better off” teams can afford to do multiple regionals but that’s about the only competitive advantage you can buy. Practice bots cost a lot less than you’d think once you have a back log of parts. So, where exactly, do you think this 50k budget goes? In a lot of cases it goes to subsidizing student/mentor travel and paying for outreach. Let’s walk through why this is a terrible idea.

(for the record 79 doesn’t have a budget anywhere near this, our students/mentors are not subsidized by the team. It’s a thought exercise based on our team size and approximated costs. )

We have ~70 students on the team. Our per student cost to Orlando was $400. That’s 28k right there. Our KoP was 6k (34k) and we could spend ~4k on the bot (38k). Now for our second regional (@5k I’m at 43k): To DC was $800 a student. I could send less than 10 students. Which leaves 0 money left over for Champs. How did any of this help inspire my kids? And don’t say I should send less kids, that limits inspiration.

So, this is a terrible idea.

I’m going to politely say no this is a bad idea. Here is why.

When I first started I was on one of these “insane budget teams” but the budget that was raised each year, we produced very competitive robots, but I was always jealous of other “bigger budget teams” in our area. Now the budget on my team was mostly student raised, and I say mostly because we did get help from mentors on how to properly set up presentations for formal sponsor meetings and so on so fourth. The students made all the money that went into that team, some sponsors even came from personal friends of mine.

Nonetheless what I am trying to say, instead of hating your giant budget team do what I did instead. Use them as an inspiration, and try to surpass them. Yeah, might be a long hard road but this is FIRST it wouldn’t be fun without that challenge. I’ve been trying to surpass a couple teams through their inspirations I find it a friendly competition. Even more so to the point of through their inspirations I got Second Place in the world 2 weeks ago at the VEXU competition.

My point is, don’t be so down about how teams set their own standards to operate. There are lots of kids who work really hard to get to where they are today.

Just my .02 cents

  • Andrew

The intent here certainly seems good on the surface - to level the playing field so all teams have an equal chance at winning. Setting a budget cap for a team isn’t the right way to go about it, though.

What makes good teams good isn’t a question of money or resources. It’s one of time, commitment, and hard work. Good teams are good because they spend the time in the offseason training and learning. They work hard during the season to finish a robot early, get it programmed, and drive it around, while working on a second robot so they have something to practice with after the bag day. Yes, money can help (you have to pay for the parts on the second robot, after all), but throwing more money at most teams won’t magically result in a practice robot - they just don’t have the extra time to build one.

In addition, every team is going to have different costs. How do you account for teams that have a regional close by, versus those that have to travel? What about teams that have to rent a build space, versus those that get one provided by the school for free? How do you equalize between teams that have a huge shop to work in, versus those that put everything away in a closet each night?

It’s almost a cliche at this point, but this is a robotics competition that isn’t really about the robot. It’s about inspiring kids to go into science and technology fields. Inspiration can happen many, many different ways, and very little of it has to do with money. A student can be inspired by winning a competition, sure. They can also be inspired by seeing what other students built. Or by working side by side with a professional engineer and earning their respect. They could be inspired by using a small budget to build something wonderful.

But maybe we could slightly alter the topic… Can we use GP to encourage all teams to share funds and equipment a little more liberally, to help pull up those teams that are struggling? How often has a team gone out to fundraise… for another team? How often have you approached your corporate sponsors and asked them to sponsor another team because they need it more than you do?

Towards that end, I have two items to share from the past year. First, one of our students arranged for Best Buy to sponsor ourselves… and 3 other teams. Second, we moved out of our old build space a few weeks ago (which was owned and offered cheaply by one of our sponsors), and we’re looking for another team to move in there and receive that sponsorship instead.

Oh to have a $10,000 budget!