New Idea for FRC

Over the years I have noticed that time and time again the well founded robots are the ones that win. Seems that FRC has been and will remain to be pay to win.

Solution: just like in all High School sports there needs to divisions based on how much money is being put into your robot. Because we all know the more moment you have the more you can spend on great new tools (CNC) and better components (Swerve).

How it would be enforced: Teams would have to submit an average cost of how much each of there components costed them as well as any new equipment that may of been “gifted” or purchased following the prior season. From there we could arrange divisions/leagues around each teams budgets.

Benefit to Teams: Teams would have a more equal playing field, allowing for them to be competitive at every event they compete in

Another Benefit to teams: Creative thinking will emerge, working on a tight budget and limited resources brings out the best engineer in all of us.

Benefit to FIRST: More money, with more events and more teams competing due to more fair playing fields.

Posible Problems: Teams equivocating the cost of there robot, due to different suppliers it is almost impossible to ensure that all teams are truthful in there costs

Honestly just throwing a random thing out there let me know

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In the days of the BOM and CAW, $10K+ robots were routinely <$5K.

All it took was an understanding of the loopholes to get “free” stuff.

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Price of robot is hard to define. The most obvious definition of price is ‘monetary expenses’ but that’s not the full picture.

Even taking pure money, I know people from the BOM era will have (strong) opinions on this.

But past money, there are other factors in ‘price.’ Consider mentors: they add value to a team, but aren’t necessarily paid or at least not in a BOM. Give experienced FRC mentors a low budget and they could guide a team to defeat a higher-budgeted team with less experience. Consider time and build space: these are also valued ‘items’ and contribute to the robot’s performance.

I’m not saying you are wrong in trying to find equality/equity, but rather pointing out that equality/equity is very hard to find.

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How about we just care less about “winning”.

Edit: sorry, overly simplistic response to a well thought out post. Forgive my snark.

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I’ll take the standpoint that making teams submit a BOM would actually work in showing the true cost of their robots (hint, it doesn’t, we had BOMs and CAWs in the past).

For a team like mine, we are running swerve and have a small amount of in house CNC capability. We are a very low budget team though. You said you would break the teams up into divisions based on robot cost, resulting in more competitions. Here in MN we can’t add more competitions period, even without picking certain teams to attend each. So that would probably mean more travel costs, which a team like mine can’t afford with our current structure. So our robot would effectively be hitting above the team’s mark and make us far less competitive simply because we worked hard to purchase swerve modules and have a small CNC router.

Adding classifications to try and make the competitions more fair would end up just showing the disparities between teams even more than the current system and would result in less team growth than what we have now. Adding events just to split up the teams based on robot cost would possibly kill some of the teams that are barely functioning as is, and would make some teams need to dial back their manufacturing capabilities in order to stay a team. I would also be worried about teams purposely dialing back manufacturing so they can be the heavy hitter in a lower tier instead of being mid pack in a higher tier.

But again, that is all assuming that the BOM and CAW accurately show the investment into a robot, which they don’t.

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This isn’t really a new idea, lots of people have posed different classes/divisions of FRC for years. Think is this kind of already exists with FTC (for all it’s issues). Furthermore, FRC is “more than robots”, so resolving that into a split model would be … interesting.
IMO, one of the strengths of the FRC program as it stands is a little high school from rural Minnesota can beat the socks of some college prep from out east, or a Texas high school where the graduating senior class is twice the size of the MN town. You just don’t see that anywhere else in the high school sports realm.

Some other rough analogies just to think about:

In 2010 formula one tried to add new lower funded teams to the grid that would have more technical freedom if working under the budget cap. Although the existence of these teams was brought about for multiple reasons besides filling out the grid, none of these teams are around anymore and they never did remotely well in the championship. Obviously FRC is not F1, but still.

in state high school competitions are , in most cases split into multiple divisions (A, AA, AAA, etc). These teams rarely see each-other or compete at the same level. this makes sense from a distribution standpoint, but all the same.

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Instead of cost, which is incredibly hard to pin down when taking into account all factors that go into a successful team, why not something similar to the English Football League? Basically, your performance in one year can get you “promoted” to the next higher tier, or “regulated” down to a lower tier. That should do a pretty good job of sorting out the teams that are always winning events versus teams that are always in the bottom half. Implement it with a global version of the district point system (modifications to balance districts versus regionals and the variable number of events, of course) and you can have a pretty straightforward ordering of teams to use to sort.

Not advocating for it (personally, I think there’s value in having powerhouse teams competing alongside rookies and under-resourced teams), but I think it would be better than trying to figure out some sort of self-reported BOM type system.

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Jon your right this would be fun

This is true until you go up against 254

I just have one note on this. Am average over the past few seasons would probably work better. My team got money from the state this year in a one time budget write-in it was enough that we’d probably have been bumped up a division this year. Suddenly getting thrown into a higher division would probably be pretty rough as it would put teams against other teams they are presumably less familiar with and they’d likely just end up back in their previous division the next year. An average would at least mean that if a team was pushed up a division they can expect to be there a bit giving them time to get more familiar with the teams they are now competing against.

Personally I dislike this as I see the value of rookies or underfunded/resourced teams competing alongside more veteran or better resourced teams. Students are only in the program for 4 years and can only have a huge impact for a portion of that.

We have seen the pain and the (dare I say cringe?) of events that have low levels of competitiveness. My gut feel is not great in these instances. Half a dozen pointers from a more experienced team can go a long way for raising the par and giving ideas to a team that is struggling, removing this is… odd to me.

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Yes there are many problems with this, that’s why it would never happen. It was just a random idea and a great hypothetical for the under founded teams

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I’d note that high school sports aren’t segmented by money in South Carolina. They’re segmented by how many students attend the school. There’s usually a correlation, but it’s not guaranteed.

I am not looking for any return to the BOM. It was uninspiring drudgery in its final forms, and was about as effective at actually restraining spend as a colander is at retaining water.

The more agreeable solution would be for FIRST to push FRC’s price point so high that weaker teams that squeak by now move to FTC, but that’s got its own problems.

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As already stated, we should continue to pursue equity but this idea definitely has its flaws.

Adding more events = the need for more venues and volunteers. (Just ask FIM) This stretches the already tight volunteer base to breaking.

Also, the cost of simply registering an FRC team is prohibitive for many low resource teams. If we could somehow wave the cost those teams would have an extra $6000 to spend and be much more “cost competitive”. But imagine the headache of deciding where the cut off is, and what is defined as “low resource”.

I also find that many mid budget teams don’t really understand what they actually have. We look at big names teams with huge build shops, cool tools, and awesome mentors and say “if we just had that”. (I think that is typical of society at large.)

The truth is, most actual low budget teams struggle to even make competition. Travel expenses alone can mean the difference between having a team or not. If the team has to stay overnight at a hotel just to compete, that could be game over for many teams. I know some Detroit teams sometimes struggle to even get to events anywhere outside of the city. A regional team may have no chance of they have to pay for overnight accommodations too.

I think we should focus on making the events themselves more accessible to teams, and work on increasing the volunteer base. Single day events were nice because they weren’t during the work week and kids didn’t have to take off of school making them much more accessible to low budget teams. Especially if there were more of them in regons that currently lacks participation. They would also probably be more competitive friendly to low cost because the more bigger teams would want two day events. (Speculating)

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This would then lead back to the more venues and refs problems

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Could we have the best of both worlds? A league system (with once-a-year promotion and relegation), but with no change to the make-up of competitions, so teams from all leagues compete side-by-side (winning district points). We could have prizes for the best team from each league (cf Rookie All Star). Alliance selection could have rules preventing an alliance from having two premier league teams (assuming four-team alliances). World Championships could select the top teams from each league and put equal numbers in each division.

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If we segregated teams into multiple classes, does that mean events are also split into multiple classes? Would we then need more events or would teams just have less options for what events they can go to? It’d stink if your closest event was a “premier” event that your classification didn’t allow for.

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We are a moderate funded team with a combined 200+ years of engineering mentor experience. No price gapping would prevent us from being competitive with top funded teams.

That said, we thoroughly enjoy being a mentor team to many rookie and lower funded teams, supporting them in and outside of competition. I have seen mentee teams go from nothing to competitive (and even passing ourselves) based on the effort and time they put into it.

I would not want to go back to the BOM days (which is basically the OP suggestion), and like it how it is. I don’t think segregating the competiton into a caste system is healthy at all.

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I agree with @Skyehawk that more experienced teams are really beneficial, but @Jon_Stratis said

Even in a tier, you should still have teams that are at a higher level than you. Maybe there can also be the option to “move up” voluntarily.

I agree; except, if it’s a Saturday only event I know a whole lot more people that would be willing to volunteer because they wouldn’t have to take time off of work for it. It’s one on the only reasons they don’t volunteer now. Most VCs want volunteers that can be there both days.

Exactly my thought process, however it was just a thought. I thoroughly enjoy seeing what creative thinking emerges from running on a smaller budget.

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The idea of tiers worries me- maybe it can work in a region with abundance of teams, but for a place like NY, it doesn’t sound beneficial.

In the event something like this happens, FiM would be the lab rat.