Old Topic, but...FRC as an athletic sport in SC

I know that this is an old topic, but I keep hearing rumblings of it at Palmetto.
If Robotics/FRC becomes a recognized athletic sport by the SC Department of Education, then we will fall under the rules established by the South Carolina High School League (Last year’s rules http://schsl.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Rules18-19.pdf). Multi-school & multi-district teams will either be dissolved or be forced to split. Single school teams will be the result.
Currently, we must follow the laws as established by SC Code of Law Title 59, Section 63 (https://www.scstatehouse.gov/code/t59c063.php). A student must reside within the attendance boundary for the school for which he participates (paraphrased). Right now, multi-school teams are ignored because they are within a single school district and robotics is somewhat of a fringe activity.

I’ve heard that teams want the prestige of being a Varsity Sport. Not to be obnoxious, but prestige comes from winning. Talk to the tennis, swim, or golf teams of your school - they receive very little in terms of funding or prestige (unless they win).
As for lettering in robotics - in my district, robotics is an academic association/activity/club and is entitled to award academic letters.

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No one is seriously pushing for this are they?

With other states recongizing robotics as a sport, I’ve heard a few teams express the desire for SC to make the change.
I truly feel that it would be disasterous for SC teams.

Eh, disaster is a strong word. We would just be forced to cut all ties with school districts completely and become a entirely separated organization. We’re weird in that I have a relationship with 2 school districts in 2 states…

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With 1102 being a Georgia based team, I’m surprised that you receive any funding from an SC school district.
I congratulate you if you are able to obtain support from both districts!
If robotics becomes an athletic sport in SC, you will lose Aiken School District’s funds. As long as Georgia continues to not recognize FRC as a Varsity Sport, you can probably continue to recruit Aiken students.

Who specifically wanted this and why?

I’m looking for the commitment of a varsity sport by all involved. FRC is time consuming and should not be treated as an interest club or activity group.

David

This isn’t true. District may not give sports all that much direct money annually, they still get huge amounts of resources allocated to them from the district.

Tennis courts they play on come from somewhere. Courts cost on average cost $65,000. My school has 6 courts, so that’s nearly $400,000. And even if they rent out space, where does the money for that rent? How about uniforms? Were talking about huge amounts of money to run these sports, which will never recoup their costs.

Swim? Swimming pools cost well over $100,000. Again, renting costs lots too.

Think the point is made. School sports cost lots of money and support from the district. For the most part, support from the district does not change if they win more. Money to the booster club does, but that’s a different story.

The large majority of teams do not get this amount of direct support, or even indirect. Even winning ones.

You are assuming a lot. I actually spoke with the principle of one of the schools we have a shop in and they actually do not get any budget for the sports teams from the district. The teams have to fundraise for their equipment themselves.
The only advantage some sports teams have is that they can sell tickets to their games. The other teams…they are on their own.
As far as venues, fields, etc. That’s a different story…but beyond the initial building of the venue…the department has to pay out of their raised funds to upkeep everything.

Cutting ties isn’t so easy unless you already are not dependent on the school. We are from 1 school but if we were a group of schools working out of one school, we would loose our space. Also insurance is a big issue with the school, not to mention the price for renting or purchasing a location.

Also FRC can’t be a sport, as much as it would be cool it should be considered a club or a team if there are enough people. I believe we are a team at our school so we can recruit earlier than clubs who would have to wait 5 weeks until something called “Club Rush” where clubs recruit students. We get a significant amount of people from there but mostly students are recruited when we go to middle schools and ask for sign-ups

Has this been confirmed, or is this just speculation based on the rules document?

Here in Minnesota, FRC has been recognized by the Minnesota State High School League (the organization that administers all high school sports in Minnesota, runs state championships, etc) since the 2012 season, when we had our first MSHSL State Tournament. They have a set of bylaws in place, including:

BYLAW 109.00 - Students may not participate in more than one interscholastic season in a given sport in each school year

This would be a problem, as robotics is year-round. We attend competitions in the winter (week-0), spring (regionals/champs), summer (Off-season), and fall (Off-season)

BYLAW 201.00 - A student may not participate in League-sponsored activities unless the student is an amateur in that activity

This could be a problem for students based on their background. For example, we had a student on the team at one point that already had a patent for an arthritis treatment device she designed, and was taking the device through clinical trials at the U of M while she was a student. I would not call her an “amateur” when it comes to anything we do. And then there’s the case of the Farmington robotics team, gaining national notoriety for their work building powered wheelchairs for kids - are they amateurs?

BYLAW 204.00 Awards presented to students shall be of a symbolic nature rather than those which have intrinsic value.

Having a student that won Dean’s List at champs back in 2014… She got a ton of stuff with that award, enough to blow this rule out of the water.

BYLAW 405.00 A member school must schedule a minimum of three interscholastic varsity games, meets or matches to qualify for League-sponsored tournament participation in that sport.

This would rule out most teams in MN from the MSHSL tournament - we have maybe 1 team that does 3 regionals in a season, which would mean only those that do 2 regionals plus champs would qualify. Don’t even bother talking about community-based teams, they would be excluded no matter how well they did.

Anyways, those are just a few of the items teams in MN would have problems with… and yet, none of it is a problem for anyone. Every team in MN is eligible for the state championship, even community based teams. the MSHSL doesn’t get involved with our regionals or other events at all. They don’t limit participation hours or seasons. As part of getting recognized by them, we worked all of this out ahead of time so that FIRST teams could continue to be FIRST teams. Trust me, back then I heard all sorts of concerns from people on different teams about how the MSHSL rules were going to affect them… and then after we had the first state tournament and none of their worries came to pass, they stopped talking about how bad it was going to be… instead, those same people started trying to argue their way into the tournament when they ended up below the cutoff!

So instead of sitting there, worrying about what may happen or how it might affect you - go find out. Go talk to the RD or planning committee, or others that oversee the larger aspects of FIRST in your state. Ask them how this sort of thing would work, what they’re doing to make sure it has a positive impact for all teams in the state, and what you can do to help them make sure everything works out for the best. Doing this will have a lot bigger, and more direct impact than sharing concerns with people from across the world online.

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If this did happen and some of these rules were inforced it really would have an impact. In addition to the multi school issues, I don’t think any of us want to have schedules be limited by a season or have to deal with mandatory practice start and finish practice dates.

I think David nails it in that there are some aspects to this that we should treat like a sports team, but I think that is up to each team to figure out and establish.

I do think there would be some benefits to this in that the school would potentially start paying mentors a set coaching stipend or might funding for facilities. It would be wonderful if a team in the state had a full practice field. However, I think there are different and better avenues that we could take to achieve the pros without being listed as a sport and governed by the High School League.

Amazing that the quote of mine to which you referred concerned with prestige with a side note of funding.
Anyway, my comments are rather limited to my experience. The coaches of the teams of which I spoke are always bemoaning the lack of money to have most basic needs.

Different state, different laws.
This was based on a State Law and not the rules of the SC State High School League. At the beginning of this season, we had to release a student who was on our team who resided in a neighboring district (and attended a school in that district) because it violated the SC Code of Law, Title 59-Chapter-63:

59-63-100-(B)(3) student participating in interscholastic activities:
(a) resides within the attendance boundaries of the school for which the student participates

part (b) refers to students attending Governor’s School.

The emphasis was my addition.

I am not attempting to create controversy where there isn’t any. This has been my experience. I am not here to argue if I’m right or wrong. I am trying to voice my concerns based upon my limited experience with my district and the application of SC State Law and not the armchair interpretations by a bored mentor.

Unfortunately, we do not have a Booster Club. The funding for our team is deposited into an account held for us by our district.
If you are able to have multiple districts/states support you, then I am truly happy for you.

I highly recommend teams have their own booster club. Dealing with district accounts is a waste of time.

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My team receives no funding from the district; however, because of a very generous principal, we have one of the old “shop” bay for our lab/workshop. We are able to construct 1/2 a field and still have room for our workstations.

Easier said than done.
But, something we are investigating.

I don’t really like it when we are labelled a “club”. I don’t see the same commitment from an Anime Club member that I see from a robotics team member.

I’m confused from your original post then… you say you already have to follow that law, but are concerned about also having to follow the High School League rules in the future… Here in MN, we have to follow state laws as well. The whole point of my post, which I think you missed, was that becoming part of the SCHSL is similar to 2012 when FRC became part of the MSHSL here in MN (It’s worth noting, from their websites/social media, both the SCHSL and MSHSL are non-profit organizations, not state-run institutions. Their rules are not law, simply rules that participating organizations have to follow in order to keep participating). It’s worth exploring if that can happen without detracting from the established FRC structure in your state, as we did in MN.

I know other regions had FRC essentially split into two groups when they got involved with their state high school leagues. There were those teams that were part of the league and eligible for the league tournament, and those teams that were not and just eligible for the normal FRC stuff. But not being a part of the league didn’t detract from anything they had prior to that transition - it just kept them from enjoying perks of being part of the league.

Not sure if you have these listed out correctly…

BYLAW 109.00 - Students may not participate in more than one interscholastic season in a given sport in each school year.
This would be a problem, as robotics is year-round.

This is not a problem. My wrestlers and soccer players were in multiple leagues throughout the year. One interscholastic, and then multiple clubs.

BYLAW 201.00 - A student may not participate in League-sponsored activities unless the student is an amateur in that activity

All HS students are amateur status unless they have competed as a professional (meaning that they are getting paid to play). Their ‘experience’ has nothing to do with it (as in the case of 2987 or your student).

BYLAW 204.00 Awards presented to students shall be of a symbolic nature rather than those which have intrinsic value. Having a student that won Dean’s List at champs back in 2014… She got a ton of stuff with that award, enough to blow this rule out of the water.

Awards in FRC are of symbolic nature. Unless your Dean’s List award winner won a cash prize from the competition, this does not apply.

BYLAW 405.00 A member school must schedule a minimum of three interscholastic varsity games, meets or matches to qualify for League-sponsored tournament participation in that sport .
This would rule out most teams in MN from the MSHSL tournament - we have maybe 1 team that does 3 regionals in a season, which would mean only those that do 2 regionals plus champs would qualify.

Each of the FRC competitions are made up of many matches. Just as with soccer tournaments the MSHSL would count these matches as individual matches.

Sure… but those are going through different organizations. They play for their school in one season, under the MSHSL, and play in other teams under other organizations in other seasons. They aren’t playing for your team under the MSHSL across multiple seasons each year. In FRC, they are. It’s not like they bounce from one team to another each season, and if we look at the intent of the MSHSL rules, they would limit participation on your team to a single season.

I would say someone that gets a patent, goes through clinical trials, and is on the verge of selling a device to the public is no longer amateur. Unlike with traditional sports, there’s no similar direct parallel for FRC - obviously someone that plays for the NBA is not an amateur… likewise, someone that has a role as a professional engineer isn’t an amateur either. This may just be a case of the strict wording of the rule not keeping up with the program, but the intent is the same.

No cash, but she did get a phone, backpack, drone, a laptop and a whole pile of other items (the only way they made it back was in the trailer, there was no way they would fit in a suitcase!). The cash equivalent would be significant. It’s the same sort of thing you hear from college sports scandals - students getting kickbacks in merchandise or comfy jobs in lieu of getting paid for their participation, which isn’t allowed.