Out of District competition

Something posted in another thread caused me concern. This involves district competition, which does not directly impact my team this year and probably for several more, because we’re out in the boonies by FRC standards (aka regionals), but I hope that someday we will have enough teams in the area for a district, so that it will matter. I have taken the liberty of anonymizing the teams and poster a bit more than in the post I’m referencing, because I’m not worried about the specific teams so much as the phenomenon, though there’s no way I could have made this post and kept the specific teams secret from anyone willing to dig. Anyway:

When I first read this post, I viewed it from team B’s standpoint. For Team B, this event was purely scrimmage - a few dozen hours of open bag to work through their most troubling problems. However, from Team C’s standpoint (and presumably 90%+ of the teams at the event), this was one of the two events which counted towards qualification for DCMP. And let’s be blunt - this year, climbing was woth 50 points per robot and was absolutely essential for every team on your alliance if you wanted to be competitive; team C’s mentor wasn’t making a mountain out of a molehill.

In my first few years with FRC, I was worried that teams who came to a regional who had already qualified for CMP might slack off, but those fears have never materialized. I have seen several experiments, but in every case I’ve witnessed, the team’s goal appears to be focussed on being competitive, not on testing. However, inter-district events are guaranteed up front to “not matter”, so what is the rationale (from the FRC standpoint, not the teams’ standpoint) of allowing inter-district play that overrides this fairly obvious difference of focus, especially in the early weeks?

To be fair, many teams week 1/2 couldn’t climb. Some thought it wasn’t worthwhile, others had climbers that didn’t work in a comp setting. At most events this honestly shouldn’t be too big of an issue district wise as most are usually filled to capacity (yes there are exceptions but usually enough for that team to not be involved if that’s an issue) and really only effects quals (not that its any good there either.)

To actually answer your question, I’m fairly sure its to make sure events are filled to capacity. For example, West Valley has historically always been about 25-35% below capacity compared to all the other events in PNW. It makes sense there to have incentive for more teams to come play here, as basically all home teams are there and its definitely not enough to fill the event, sometimes not even enough to hit 24 teams without some outside help from a 3rd event team or one from far away.

Wow, as a team who has been that team B before, I have a hard team believing anyone in FRC would act like this. But to contribute to the topic at hand, I’m not so sure this sort of thing really is the goal for the team Cs of the world. No matter where you go, from the tiniest week 0 scrimmage to champs, you should be approaching your alliance mates and your opposing alliance with full respect. Verbally abusing another team is never going to get you anywhere, and if anything, that team is instantly going to lose my respect at that point. We got a pretty crappy schedule this year at a week 3 event, but we still managed to work together with our teams through all of our deficiencies, and in the few cases where we were with a “bossier” team that was better, we worked through what we could do rather than berate each other for what we couldn’t. This seems to be the ethos of the whole Gracious Professionalism mantra and events like this show me that there are still plenty of teams who need a better understanding of the whole concept.

Now that I've sidetracked myself, I do believe that inter district plays are a very good thing to have. Part of the great thing of this international competition is the fact that there is FRC everywhere. I love going to champs and seeing the teams from halfway across the globe there with us, and how different our approaches to even the most basic of problems is. Even at smaller events like district events, regionals, and half champs, the effect is still there. I think any reasonable team, especially one willing to go inter district, will work together with everyone at the event with respect. Just because they don't have an incentive at the end should not mean they should give up on all hope. If a team is having GP issues, that's a team per team thing, not a reason to block off a valuable resource for teams to get out of their district.

The three years I was on my team, we did something extra all 3 years. In 2015, we went to 3 districts in Indiana. In 2016, we went to a week 1 district in NC (the first year that NC was a district). In 2017, we went to a regional between our first and second district event.

The one I’ll focus on (and the one that I feel like was the best experience for both us and the district teams in NC) is the NC inter-district play in 2016. I feel like this was a beneficial event for us for obvious reasons (and that isn’t the focus of the thread). I feel like NC benefited from us by seeing how another region plays the game* and by having the option of receiving some advice (not exactly sure if any of this really went on because I was never in the pits) from experienced district teams (1501 and 5188 were also there from Indiana). I definitely feel like it was a benefit to both the outsiders and the insiders of the district.

*What I mean by that is that it seems like some regions kind of unintentionally agree on how some aspect of the game should be played. Example: in Indiana this year, it looked like all the teams agreed not to do much with fuel outside of auto.

I agree that there should be more performance incentives for teams attending out-of-district events, which is why we’ve consistently advocated for Inderdistrict Play for Points. My understanding is that several districts are ready to try this mode of competition.

From conversations I’ve had with some leadership over the past 2 years, there has been a push by several of the districts to incorporate official inter-district play for points. HQ has stated that all of the districts have to agree to do it and Michigan has stated that they will not do it. I know Canada, MAR, and CHS are all interested and I’ve heard that NC would most likely be interested. Get your act together Michigan.


I’m glad I can laugh about this all now. At the time it was a bit frustrating but believe me, there aren’t any hard feelings on Team B.

I feel it necessary to add some additional clarity given that it was my story:

  • Team B always competes like every match is a final. They have been accused of being “too competitive” at times.
  • Team B had a team of students and a mentor actively working on their climber issues.
  • Team B later that day borrowed parts that only Team C had at the event. These parts were some pricey sensors and Team C was kind enough to remove them from a replacement mechanism and lend them to Team B.
  • Team B later shipped new parts to another mentor in the same general area as Team C and those parts were delivered to Team C.
  • Team B’s mentor and Team C’s mentor might not agree on how best to communicate match strategy but they certainly agree about the importance of the program and that their respective teams are delivering the best results they can to their alliance.

I think you’re the one making the mountain out of molehill though. Allow me to quote you back at you:

In my first few years with FRC, I was worried that teams who came to a regional who had already qualified for CMP might slack off, but those fears have never materialized.

Those fears weren’t materialized here either.

It’s nice for our teams to earn points here, thank you very much. Are the FIM rankings really FIM rankings if teams go earn points outside of FIM? You’re not proving you’re better than the robots here, you’re proving you’re better than the robots there. It puts the entire district system in jeopardy. Teams prove they are the best X teams in a region, and go to a DCMP, where they prove they’re the best X teams there and go to Worlds, etc. All of a sudden you might have teams proving they’re the best in CHS and 1(2?) FIM events, boosting them over teams that they may not have earned as many points from. Considering theres(almost) no reason to go to a stronger district if you’re earning points towards DCMP, I see no benefit to allowing points for out of district play for points.

Never was a strong fan of inter-district play in the first place, if events aren’t filling up in regions, why would taking teams from other regions where their events aren’t filling up benefit? Why not just hold less events with more teams, or gives incentives to teams in your own region to go to more events?

tl;dr What was the point of going to districts instead of just having more regionals if the district system is just slowly reverting back?

In theory one reason to do this is to enable those teams that sit on the edge of the districts where it might be more convenient for them to compete in a specific geographic location.

Personally, I welcome the opportunity to play with teams from all over the world and feel like I lost some insights when we moved to the district system because we aren’t competing with as many teams from other areas now.

Don’t get me wrong though, I feel like we gained more than we lost by moving to a district system but losing the diversity of robots and design influences from different locations bothers me more than anything else.

The point of going to districts was to allow teams more plays, closer to home, at a more palatable price.

Here’s a (hypothetical) example of how interdistrict play could help realize that goal:

There are several teams in the northern 1/4 of Indiana. Under the district system as it currently stands, these teams have paid registration for two Indiana district events per year. With Indiana being a relatively small district (roughly 50 teams), they offer three district plays, plus the state championship. To try to balance the travel load on teams, the district locations are historically strategically chosen so that all areas of the state have at least one event geographically close to them. Unfortunately this hasn’t always been the case - events can only take place at venues willing and able to host them.
But the point remains - for these northern teams, there is generally one event within 90 minutes travel time, and then for the other event, they must incur travel costs and challenges.
If events in the southern part of Michigan were available to these northern Indiana teams, and vice versa, it would allow these ‘border teams’ to play at an event geographically close to home, saving thousands of dollars in travel costs, and give teams a chance to play with teams in their geographic area, not from across the state.

edit: got sniped.

The variance among district events in one region is larger than the overall difference between regions. If my team cared enough about district points to go play in a NC district event, we’d be going to Escanaba every year.

Here’s a question right back: if VA teams want to play (for realsies) with their friends in adjacent states, what’s it bother the fine folks in Michigan?


I love the idea of inter district play. I would love to be able to play with friends in NC, MAR or Indiana. However, when we travel to other districts we need to be very careful. We have to make sure that the traveling team respects the district that they are visiting.

Respect the hard work that the host district has done to prepare for that event. This is one of two chances the host teams have to collect points to move on in the competition. When you take the field, there are two host teams counting on you to do your absolute best to help them collect the points they need. Don’t have the mentality that is a “practice match” and use your 12 matches as open bag time. It’s your responsibility, as a good guest, to pull your weight on the field. Trying to fine tune some complex mechanism so it’s ready for YOUR district events to the detriment of your alliance partners is not showing respect to your host teams. Act like the matches matter to you; just like they matter to the other 5 teams on the field.

If we can remember to do that, inter-district play will be a success. If traveling teams treat it as open bag time, it will cause resentment and drag down districts.

As long as we all agree to respect that some teams have different priorities and goals than others team I don’t see any issue with this.

if your goals are not to help your alliance partners win the match, stay home.

man that was a harsh response on my end, but I stand by it. It’s different when all teams on the field have skin in the game. When one team treats the match very differently than what they would do in their own district, it’s disappointing and handicapping for the host teams.

So it’s acceptable for teams to lose wheels at Championship because it’s “not about winning” but when it’s a week 1 event qualifying match everyone has to focus on winning all the time or they shouldn’t be there?

Of course, at that very event the team you’re griping about (you’re about as subtle as a baseball bat to the teeth) had the hopper fall on their robot TWICE and were told it was “inconsequential”. So maybe your host district should have put in a bit more work to make sure their fields were to spec rather than damaging robots. (red dots that way, fill it with “THEY ARE JUST VOLUNTEERS!!!1”)

Edit: I see your edit. I agree teams should do their best, I don’t agree with badmouthing a team in the least subtle way.

ahh, I got it. did you know the field staff was up until the wee hours of the morning Friday night trying to put together a field that didn’t have all the parts with it? Did you know that parts were still being delivered to the event Saturday morning after the event was already underway? The staff did everything they could. You have no idea what you are talking about. Well done though.

But please, let’s get back on topic. we are are talking about inter-district
play. My comments were generic and not pointed at any single team. If any part of my comment is similar to any teams behavior at any time, it is purely coincidence. But if the shoe fits, by all means, put that bad boy on and own it.

Wouldn’t inter-district play for points actually solve the problem since the event for the visiting team would now actually count for them too?

This same scenario could actually happen currently in district for any team playing a 3rd play.