Petition: End Seat Saving

There really needs to be some kind of update to the rules around seat saving. When teams enter the regional, every team is trying to save seats. This just happens. People really need them, both for scouting and for parents to have a spot to watch the team. People have huge incentives to save seats, and almost every team does. This results in two groups of teams, one group of defenders that is (perfectly rationally) breaking the rules, and one group of aggressors that (also rationally) calls those teams out in order to gain those seats for themselves. This year my team found ourselves in the unfortunate role of the aggressors. During the frantic first 10 minutes of the day, people both from our team and the team we found ourselves up against were shouting, and it resulted in a tense situation for much of the day. Obviously, people were out of line on both sides, but I can’t find fault with anyone involved, everyone was acting in their own best interest based on the incentives that are inherent in the system. I can’t imagine that we’re alone in this complaint. I see every team lining up at the doors, storming in the moments the doors open. To me, this is the most un-GP part of any FIRST competition and it’s my least favorite part of every day of competition. I don’t have a quick solution to this problem but I just wanted to get it out there that I think this is something FIRST needs to try and solve.

Some teams see this as a way to get a competitive advantage agisnt the other competition.

Here is another thread

Instead of thinking of yourselves as “defenders” and “aggressors”, everyone should take a deep breath and try to work together. For most of the day, you don’t need a seat for everyone on your team. So instead of looking for a nice big block of seats and fighting over the borders, partner up with a few other teams. You each get the small number you need all the time (for scouting and fans), and have a small common area for overflow (for those people who are only going to be there when your team is actually on the field). Then for those times everyone is in the stands (opening ceremonies and awards)… be gracious. Do you need that front and center block of seats? Or can your small group move over to the sides where there’s plenty of open room so your entire team can sit together?

In short, find a way to work together.

Some venues the seats are no big deal, at others it is a huge deal. First should stick with venues with enough decent seats. San Diego is terrible for decent seats with a decent view of the field, OC much better. Now take a wild guess which had 66 teams and which had 52.This was not an issue in SD when the sports arena was used for 52 teams. Yet, today they pack in ever more teams in a much smaller venue.

At the very basic level every single team scout should have a view , all teams should have a row or two. Each team paid a lot to be there. Either increase the size of the venues or limit the number of teams in events with challenging seating options. Then saving seats starts to go away.

The lines in the morning tell the story… In SD unless you are there super early there is no chance of getting any premium seating, in Orange County no real line even close to the gate open time. Here’s an example we arrived 45 minutes before on Qualification day 1…found out we were wayyy back in line thats 45 minutes before gate opens. So next day we were there 1hr45min earlier to get prime seats for some of us, mainly scouts.

This should not be a rock concert scenario.

I have no issue with teams trying to stake a claim early in a “team seat section” … thats fair they put in the valiant effort . However many teams travel and don’t have “the numbers” to block out a section. Or even know it’ll be an issue in that venue.

Now later in the day , I noticed team blocks did thin out and seats were not as much of an issue (until teams did not get picked and eliminations were coming) . This could easily be dealt with and avoided in the welcome letter to each event that is challenged with decent views seating.

Instead of the blanket “don’t save seats” , something along the lines of “Here is the seating situation we expect”, we have this # of teams and expect this many spectators so we ask teams to no to not group more than X number of spectators in the following sections. This would be fair to both large and small teams. In the premium seat sections. Want more then there are the other areas to congregate more …sound travels just fine from anywhere.

Teams with media needs could ask for “media spots” at the event , these would be prime viewing areas they could use because they are filming the event of their team , but just a seat or two for that and if they have a long delay between thier events then rotate out , possibly go to another media spot later.

I really doubt even the largest schools would have a problem with that, I’m pretty certain every team agrees that all teams should be able to group together to watch the game with decent view of it. All teams deserve to be able to safely and without confrontation get parts of their teams together in a certain sized grouping , to do whatever. In view of the field and not some extreme viewing angle.

Its solvable in other words, in any sized venue.

Petition to end anonymous accounts!
Was there any real reason you couldn’t post this under your account?

There is no life-threatening controversy, so why make one?

Believe it or not, there is a rule against saving seats. Rule E03, to be exact. Also part of E04.

Now, what sort of update to that rule were you thinking of?

FIRST doesn’t really enforce it. They just wag a finger saying " SHAME ON YOU!" and leave it at that.

At our first event this year it was the worst that I have seen. People were allowed into the seating area before the ceremonies began each day - and then were asked to step back into the concourse. As people did - they saved seats, as they would naturally do with no instruction otherwise.

I think that if each team’s lead mentor just made it a point of emphasis to their students and parents (meeting or email) - a lot of this could be resolved. And an announcement at the beginning of each day from the emcee would go a long way to avoiding seat saving - especially for newcomers to the sport.

Good Luck!

Unless FIRST applies actual penalties with teeth (stripping awards) nothing will change and the practice will continue. GP only applies to some teams when the judges are watching them.


But what many teams don’t realize is that the judges have eyes and ears everywhere. If more teams realized that then there might be better behavior…

I would be down with defining E-rule violations as C02 violations–uncivil behavior–and forcing discussions with event staff for teams that violate them, if reported, escalating to cards as appropriate. Sometimes the THREAT of a card is more effective than the card.

The worst offenders, in my experience, tend to be large, competitive teams that need lots of scouts or just want to provide collective seating for 30+ students in the stands. They are well aware that “judges have eyes and ears everywhere” and it doesn’t really affect them in terms of awards either. I don’t think there will ever be a good solution to this problem short of allotting seats for scouting for each team (Like Sperkowsky mentioned in the lined thread earlier), and leaving the rest up to chance.

I think every event should consider what is done at the championships.
Save the best seats or sections for scouting where teams that have a match, can have one or a few students from that team sit there for the duration of the match.

Personally I like this approach. I suppose it would be nice if the rules were re-written to reflect the reality of the situation, but that’s just a nice-to-have.

As others mentioned, venue-specific guidelines might be needed. It would probably help more if teams & event organizers had an idea of how much spare space they should anticipate, and were able to properly inform teams/mentors, and possibly reserve seats for scouting/media/competing teams as needed to prevent conflict.

We tried that for a few years at one of our regionals. There was a section with seats assigned by team number - every team got 2 seats for scooters. The problem was… Most teams wanted more than 2 for their scouting team. So they crowded around d this section, leaving their assigned seats empty. It ended up making the problem worse, not better, and the idea was abandoned.

At the Tech Valley regional there’s a balcony area above the seating that wraps around the arena. The 2 sections above seating have standing room enough for a table and a few chairs. The sections are measured and taped off, given numbers, and each team is given a random section to scout from. There’s even limited power available, and teams are allowed to swap sections and pool together (scouting alliances).

Most scouting/video is now done from the balcony area, and we really haven’t had a seat-saving problem since we started it. (Not to say it’s not done, but we’ve had enough room and it hasn’t been an issue.)

I have found that most teams want to sit together and have their fans sit with them.
I have also found that if you approach a team that is saving seats and sit with them, they normally have no problem with it.
You may even find out you have something in common with them and have a good conversation about the program.

Very few teams save seats that are not aware of the rule and they are not likely to challenge you or ask you not so sit with them.

But then again, I tend to spend most of my time at events working in the pits with either our team or helping other teams, only going to the stands to watch specific matches that interest me.

No one has yet mentioned that parents seem to have the most trouble with this?


(how many parents are aware of CD, anyways?)

Now if I were a chairman’s judge, I might just take a list of teams with chairman’s presentations and stroll over to the stands dressed as a visitor and see who’s saving seats. I’d then ask if I could sit there to watch the next match.

If I was allowed to sit there, I’d be happy … if not, I might just consider that when scoring that team.

Realistically, what can we do? At OC on one day there were about 5 people saving 3 rows of seats in the stands and were pretty aggressive any time someone would try to take any of the seats, even on the edge (and from what I heard, they would expand their “territory” if we vacated some seats). It does seem a bit petty to go complain to the refs about seat saving when they have much more important things to do