I cant speak for NH, but I have been to UTC for the past 4 years.
I’ll agree there wasn’t much in the area of FIRST spirit asin previous years, but thinking logically, the competition has been changed around a bit. Last year it was at the New Haven Coliseum. People complained about seating, the pits being too noisy, difficult to navigate, and farther away from most teams. So they moved back to the meadows. The last time it was at meadows was 2 years ago, and as I recall, the pit layout was a bit different- there wasn’t a black curtain separating the pits from the walking areas. But the stage layout was the same as 2 years ago, so that aspect hasn’t changed.
Also- keep in mind this was a “streamlined” event- and it underwent massive budget cuts. Maybe without red and blue lights flashing to signal each alliance cut the enthusiasm a bit, or the lack of spinning FIRST logo’s on the carpet.
As for the refs, 80% of them were reading the rulebooks Thursday. Keep in mind they are volunteers with other things to do and worry about in their lives. They are trying to help out by lending their services. Granted, they could have read up on the rules to make sure they were understood a bit earlier, but for learning the scoring and rules in one day, I don’t think they did all that bad. Some drivers were being aggressive (I was field crew, I know firsthand), and I did see the mentor act as human player. I also saw one mentor walk out of the driver station to the side of the field to guide the robot out of a tangled mess, during competition, not practice rounds. I saw a number of mentors touch the controls, either to release a mechanism, or get out of a sticky situation. I saw human players jump over the side rail back to the pad, ignoring the gate which was held open for them. I saw a number of rules broken, including tearing up of the field, pinning for 30 seconds+, even drivers who touched the controls of their bot before autonomous was over. I could see more than 90% of the rules broken were not intentional, as I am well aware of what the heat of competition can do to a person. However, the rules are in place to standardize competition, and I feel most calls were correct. Of course, that’s not to say some were not uncalled for, but overall I think they did a good job.
I think the level of competition was pretty good, and again, since I can’t speak for NH, I’ll hold my opinion at that. NH had a practice field??? That’s just nuts. I’ve never heard of any other regionals like that in any other year. Can anyone say pampered and spoiled? As for the robots who competed in NH and dominated UTC, maybe it’s because they’ve already been tested and tweaked in actual competition, whereas teams who’s first regional this was needed to tweak, test, and fix before achieving that level of competition.
I also have mixed personal feelings on teams attending multiple regionals… If a team attends one regional, dominates, and wins, then moves on to another regional, dominates, and wins again, is that not one less team that can qualify to attend nationals? I think it’s great that teams are taking the initiative to increase their competitive chances, but with the qualification system for nationals as it is, I think something should be done to allow as many teams as possible to nationals.
Sorry for the long rant, but I feel I have to explain a bit about UTC to those who bash it. Then again, maybe it’s because I had a different perspective as a volunteer, but I had also been a team member for 4 years prior.