Offseason Event Registration - Participation is very low Discussion

Hello everyone,

I have been involved in the FIRST environment over the past 19 years, but it seems like this year has been an exception for offseason events. I am not identifying any specific events but it seems like OVERALL offseason events are being canceled more so then prior years. The two we were slated for were canceled due to lack of participation.

I am trying to help figure out the reason for lack of participation.

This is not a dig on anyones team nor does this change mine or anyone’s opinion on said team, I am trying to hopefully bring light to these issues.

Hence the topic post stating discussion.

Speaking for Team 1708 and personally from my observation, the main concern we have is:

  1. Our drive motors and the ability to purchase repair kits and extra parts.
  2. Overlap of events.

It is good to be aware of these things.

  • I suspect there are still some lagged effects of covid season(s). Be that number of teams in area, funds, need for mentors and parents to take a summer “off”, etc.

  • as you mentioned supply chain issues (themselves spurred on by covid)

So while I think this is something to definitely be aware of and to discuss in the community I would not be concerned from a single season of less that average participation/ number of events.

Things could also be purely circumstantial, maybe like you mentioned, bad community coordination causing a lot of events to overlap. On a high level, TRI and IRI were on top of eachother this year.


To add to this, one of the issues we’ve encountered is problems with team member availability over the summer. Interestingly, last year this was less of a problem.

My suspicion is that since last season was still “coming out of COVID” you still had a lot of people avoiding certain activities (and in some cases, certain activities not starting up again yet), where as this year, people are getting out and doing what they missed during COVID, leading to the proverbial pendulum swinging away from the side of being available for robotics activities.

Interestingly, I’ve also noticed a lack of communication from various event planning committees for a number of off-season events. In the past you’d see these events post information in the late spring, but this year, we’re getting information indirectly through the rumor mill (we had one event where the first information we got for it was the VC reaching out to last years volunteers), or posted very late, if at all. It also seems like there’s a number of events that just aren’t happening this year at all, though it’s not clear what the cause for that is.


Not sure if there is a good list of historical offseason events but there are most certainly more than they used to be. We may oversaturated in some parts of the country.


I definitely noticed an oversaturation in the past two years. It seems like there was a quick rebound from COVID, and everyone wanted to play all summer last year. This year, it seems as if teams are a bit more burnt out on events.

I also think a lot of it does seem to be that a lot of events have popped up over the past two years, and now many are suffering because of it. I noticed Michigan seemed to have a LOT more events last year, but this year the number seemed to go down substantially, and events seem to be getting at least enough teams to run the event.

I’ll be curious as to how far the pendulum swings back the other direction toward less off season events in the next year or two, and if we start seeing more requirements from HQ/Program Delivery Partners/Orgs on off seasons.

1 Like

To add on to this as another piece of this potential explanation:

We simply have less teams^ due to covid effects vs week 1 of the 2020 season. All those teams and communities that wanted to start an off season did so with the demand of Early 2020 in mind, tried to rebound hard into a world with fewer FRC teams, and well here we are.

^citation needed, but I am pretty sure this is still true as of 2023 numbers.


FIRST costs a ton of money, even in the offseason. People do not have a ton of money right now; post-COVID inflation has been pretty drastic.


This may also be a reflection of us getting quite possibly the best game in a decade, at least that is my sense on the community for 2022.


Check out Colisseum Clash | Glenelg, Maryland | September 23rd, 2023


Oh man, inflation here is like 100-200%. I miss the days it was 13% a lot.


Reasons students didn’t go to offseason events were:

  • Have to work a job. (Low rate of unemployment = more youth working)
  • Have to go to debate/band event (Typical, but maybe more cross-involved students or more demands for participation than in past)
  • Stressed out/Need weekends to recover (relax) from school. Want to catch up on video game, movie, etc. (Not as much for the offseason, but did hear that as the reason not to meet Sunday afternoons).

Generally, it takes enough interested students to make it happen. That is last time we did multiple off-seasons it was put into motion by students and their families, and that just is less. We did have a couple students express interest in an off-season next month, but none that I know of asked their parents or made more than just a verbal response.

Maybe in a larger sense there is more competition for people’s time whether it is work to earn more money or leisure. Robotics falls lower than some things but to have offseasons you need enough people, and especially students, interested in making it their leisure activity or even having some importance for them compared to some other school-related activities (unless grades are involved). It is worth thinking about how events can be run to be both opportunity to experience a robotics competition in a low-stress environment, but also to be fun for all the students that show up.

1 Like

NE seems to be clear of these problems. We currently have:

  • BattleCry (MA) (2 days) - June 3/4 (overlaps with MA graduation and SATs) - 64 teams (fills within a few hours)
  • Where is Wolcott? (CT) - June 10 - 24 teams
  • CT State Champs (CT) - June 24 - 24 teams
  • Summer Heat (ME) - June 24 - 29 teams
  • Mayhem in Merrimack (NH) - Sep 23 - 24 teams
  • Governor’s Cup (NH) - Oct 7 - 24 teams
  • Bash at the Beach (CT) - Oct 14 - 24 teams
  • N.E.R.D. (MA) - Oct 14 - 24(?) teams
  • River Rage (NH) - Oct 28 - 24 teams
  • Battle of the Bay (NH) - Nov 4 - 30ish teams
  • Beantown Blitz (MA) - TBD - 24(?) teams

Most of these events fill within a day, and since they overlap nobody is doing every single one of them. A handful of teams do 5 or so but that is not common. You can see we have an offseason pretty much every weekend from late Sep to early Nov, and none of these particularly struggle to fill.

We are a relatively dense region, though - teams in Boston have ~6 offseasons within a 90 minute drive. There has been effort to put another summer event in Vermont the last couple of years but it’s been cancelled due to lack of interest - there are not too many teams up there.

So my question is - are teams in other areas declining to participate in multiple offseasons, or are they declining to drive 3 hours to an offseason? My bets on the latter (having grown up and previously mentoring in a state where that was a regular).

I see a lot of regions have a major hub and a minor hub. They often already have an offseason in the major hub. The new offseason in the minor hub struggles to fill. What about putting a second offseason in the major hub?


That’s the case for us. We typically have 2-3 mentors and multiple parents willing to participate to make events happen, but travel or lodging is not usually a viable option for the offseason. Our team, like most, doesn’t even get lodging for our district events, so coordinating it for the offseason just feels like a hassle for the adults involved (AKA I don’t want to deal with that).

The only one I regret not being able to go to this summer was the Ice Cream Social in Maine. Given additional planning time it would be something I’d attempt to attend if I can also turn it into a mini vacation.


Maybe a poll is needed but how many offseason events in 2022 and how many in 2023? Last year we did 3 this year we are doing 2. We are going to the Ozark Mtn Brawl and Cow Town Throwdown. We did the Gateway Robotics Challenge the last two years but decided not to this year. Its a 5 hour drive for us and is only a Saturday event. OMB is 4 hours and Cow Town is 3 hours and both are 2 day events. To make up the difference we are taking multiple robots to OMB. Wish we could do more just travel time and cost makes it tuff.


We’re certainly not having that problem here in FNC district. We actually have more off-season events than in any past year (we have four, between the two THOR events and the two Doyenne events) and all but the second Doyenne event are full and have waiting lists, and the second Doyenne is almost full (and probably will be by event time.) My team is going to all four, though we’re only going to the second THOR as support for a pre-rookie team since we’re lending them our robot and pit support. So no sign of low participation here.

1 Like

Blue Ridge Brawl has slots and would love to have some NC teams :wink:


This was my main assumption upon looking at local (Pittsburgh events) and even into the tri state area (Ohio and West Virginia included.) Between the registration fees, transportation costs, supply chain issues and part costs, the rise of inflation seems to be a deciding factor on when a lot of teams can travel.

This is also coupled with the lack of funding in some areas, creating a issue of retaining a team yearly, not even being able to attend an offseason event.

Yeah due to the dense nature of your area I wouldn’t dream of issues, and the

is super nice.

I would love for someone way smarter then me in the GIS space to graph current offseason events and show the map of teams in areas in accordance to distance.

Commenting here from the Dow Red Stick Rumble - our registration this year has been right at the average. We have 18 teams registered. One change that I’ve watched over the past 5 years is the continued increase of secondary robots. We have nine teams bringing secondary bots.

If someone pulls the data together I will do the gis work :handshake: