Preparing for the Town Hall Meeting on the New Championships Format

Since no one else has started a new thread to prepare for the discussion at Champs about the future of FRC, I have stepped up here. I am not advocating a particular position, nor will I be involved in the actual preparation and presentation. This thread is NOT about complaining about FIRST’s announcement–it IS about constructing positive proposals.

I strongly urge that many of you who are concerned about this organize yourselves to make a set of coherent alternative proposals to present at the town meeting. Given the likelihood that the locations are contractually locked in, keep those sites in your proposal structures.

Use this thread to organize this presentation, and select specific presenters. Also prepare presentation materials, and even budget and manpower estimates. The more professional and complete, the more seriously it will be taken.

We should take Frank at his word (see below) and engage in constructive discussion.

To meet our lofty goals, though, we will need your help. As Don said in his video, we want to engage members of the community in coming up with the best solutions possible to the challenges presented to this two Championship approach. The concerns you’ve expressed are valid. Over the next several months you will see a number of initiatives intended to engage the community in helping shape what these Championships and activities surrounding them will look like. As an example, we are currently planning a town-hall style meeting at the 2015 FIRST Championship that will allow the community to engage directly with Senior FIRST Leadership on this important change. In all of this, we need your help in doing what you do best – solve problems. I’m personally very interested in hearing your ideas about how we may be able to arrange for final matches between the winners of FIRST Championship Houston and FIRST Championship St. Louis.

Let’s work together to make these future Championships great.

Frank

I’m personally very interested in hearing your ideas about how we may be able to arrange for final matches between the winners of FIRST Championship Houston and FIRST Championship St. Louis.

Personally, I believe this is the wrong point to discuss during the meeting. The issue isn’t that they’re two championship alliances, but rather that the whole FRC community will be split. I think the focus of the meeting should be see if there is a way to have only one FRC championship at one of the locations, and have the other be for FTC.

FLL and FTC at one location. All FRC teams at the other. Vendors, speakers, workshops can be more specific to age and needs this way.

The one thing i don’t like about this proposal is FTC and FLL teams won’t get to see FRC teams and the “big kids” and their robots. The other thing I loved to see at champs was the lower programs and how excited and inspired they were.

However, I suppose if we have the two venues, that may be the best compromise to keep one championship for FRC teams.

Agreed. A final showdown would be nice and all, but it’s really not the issue. At a meeting like this, it’s just a distraction from the far more important and difficult to resolve problems.

Part of me is a little bothered that it was the only issue to make the blog post. It’s mostly a red herring compared to the real and far more intractable challenges these contracts created.

My first suggestion: cross-event switching, e.g. where a Houston-bound team can trade places with a Detroit-bound one.

I agree with this idea. FLL and FTC have grown beyond belief and the programs are getting better and better. I believe that they have reached the level where they can expand out and have their own location for a combined championship. I believe that Houston should be for FLL and FTC and Detroit for FRC. So that we can continue to have all FRC teams in the same housing but in a much larger venue.

For those concerned about the other programs not seeing FRC, you can always have an exhibition tournament at the FLL/FTC championship, and the same thing with FLL and FTC at the FRC Championship. Just an idea at least.

One of the big concerns I’ve seen is that the “Championship experience” no longer happens in a stadium except for opening and closing ceremonies. With how the cities are laid out, there doesn’t seem to be a way around this, but if anyone can think of some sort of alternative…

I think that qualifying teams could easily sign up to switch places under the current geography plan.
Create a list for Houston teams who want to go to Detroit/St Louis and a list of Detroit/St Louis teams who want to go to Houston. As soon a team qualifies for their championship event they can put their number at the bottom of their respective lists, and as soon as a team exists on both lists, the affected teams will be notified and will be swapped.

Once they had been swapped, this decision would be set in stone, but until a partner shows up, a team can cancel their request and go to their originally scheduled championship event. It sucks if you’re qualifying near the end of the tournament, but its at least something.

It is not as simple as that. Some of us are involved in FRC and one of the other programs. Two road trips on two successive weekends will be very difficult to make work. Many FRC teams have these two other programs as significant parts of their outreach (think Chairmans) so their team members may have to choose between being with the team they are coaching or abandoning them to participate in the FRC event. We have already seen this happen when an FLL tournament was scheduled for the same day as the FRC Kickoff. Lastly, many families have students participating in programs other than FRC.

To those making a proposal, observe that you are engaging in a classic product definition exercise.

Prior to thinking too much about a proposal, it is worth spending some time thinking about what attributes a proposal might be judged on. Here are attributes that were discussed in the other thread:

. Cost of attendance for teams, including travel
. Presents FRC as entertainment
. Venue availability
. Event volunteer availability (both key and regular volunteers)
. Team mentor availability
. Team member availability
. FRC staff availability
. Fits between New Year’s Day and AP test day
. Number of teams participating
. Avoiding events developing persistent easier/harder reputations
. Equipment (field) availability
. Economic feasibility
. Every team has the opportunity to attend, at a minimum, once every four years / number of students inspired by event
. The result of the annual competition is a single champion alliance
. Capacity of event to inspire students
. Ability of teams to decide where they compete
. Ability to inspire FLL/FTC teams via co-location

Ideas for others?

One might then consider building a House of Quality to compare various proposals on these attributes.

Even more time, money, and school missed? Sounds like a fantastic solution!

I recommend you take Citrus Dad up on his suggestion and start working out a proposal for how this would work. FIRST has tentative plans for and knows how a 400 FRC team Champs would work at each location. You’re going to have to convince them that either:

  1. An 800-FRC team Event can work at one of the locations.
  2. A smaller FRC Event can work at one of the locations and is in the best interests of the program.

If you show up and all you have is a demand/suggestion that we split FLL+FTC and FRC because you really want a single FRC Champs, that’s probably not going to get as far.

I agree with Kevin. Start with the premise that (1) FRC will have an 800 team championship level (remember that Frank already noted last year that FRC was going to quickly outgrow the 600 team field when they announced the field expansion) and (2) none of the contracted cities (nor anywhere else) will be able to accommodate a single 800 team field. Start structuring your proposals from there.

You can create a separate proposal that shrinks the Champs field to fit into 1 stadium but understand that you will have to develop a full season proposal.

The problem of splitting FRC and FTC/FLL is that you make it highly unaccessible for a lot of teams, because now the Championships aren’t centrally located. If our team got invited to Houston we would have a much harder time than we are with St. Louis. One way we could have a top winner is to work a little like the NCAA March Madness where Midwest/West and North/South never meet until the title game, So the winning alliance would come from Houston to Detroit/St. Louis, maybe with some FIRST sponsoring, for the final matches, since the two events take place on two weekends. Not sure how cost-effective and time consuming this would be, but the team would really only need to be there Saturday. And to keep it fair they wouldn’t have much time to work on their bot between the two competitions.

I’d like to see the actual numbers on how many this would really effect.

As stated on the FRC Blog, the dual championships would be based off of their regions. This being said, as long as your second program is located in the same region as your FRC team, then you should be good to go.

I support multiple teams across various FIRST Programs. Will they all be going to the same Championship?

In addition to qualification based on performance or ranking, FIRST will determine what teams attend which event based on geographical location of the team and by balancing team capacity at both events. Hence, it is highly likely that the geography for FTC teams at a given Championship will align with the geographies for FLL and FRC teams at the same event. However, we are still in the process of determining those geographic alignments for each Championship.

This is what I’ve been advocating since the announcement. You can do two FLL/JrFLL events without any strife, because winning a championship tournament never was a golden ticket to World Festival. Some years, you are playing for a bid to an Open. So we’ll roll with that.

Make one city the FRC Championship, make one city the FTC World Championship. At the FTC site, you hold the Good Guy Frank Invitational with 60-100 FRC teams. Some will opt to do it because it’s closer, or the date works better, or they’ve got FTC teams that want to go, or maybe we invite some teams whose district points bubble burst–but you hold a full-fat, top-flight event there so you’ve got all four programs represented there. Do the same back for the FRC Championship, and you have an undisputed champion and four healthy programs with room to grow.

Honestly I feel this would be the best course of action. I believe the community as a whole DOES NOT want to have 2 World champs, BUT it seems that FIRST HQ has already booked the venues. So just split up the events. One venue for the FLL/FTC and the other for FRC.

It’s understood that some teams are part of multiple programs, but honestly no matter what we do, decisions will have to be made by teams. I feel it would be easier to organize the split of the FLL/FTC and FRC to different venues rather than organizing 2 splits at 2 venues…

Teams will just have to decide where they will allocate their resources as far as sending students to these events. Its just like the Olympics…you can’t compete in every single event. You may physically be able to, but time does not allow it.

I agree. I think splitting FTC/FLL and FRC is a poor decision. There are teams which participate in both/all three and that would be just about the most taxing, most expensive situation one could find themselves in. Having successful FTC/FLL team(s) and successful FRC team(s) should not be punished. Also, the inspiration people see from seeing other leagues is awesome.

My post above describes a way to combat region lock and theoretically one being weaker than the other. This post describes one way to crown a true world champion.

Play out the semifinal rounds at each ‘championship’ and take the finals rounds to this 3rd location. Immediately after the last semifinal match, the winning robots and necessary tools are bagged and shipped(on FIRST’s dime) to a one day, televised “true world championship” which would be done on a third weekend in a different smaller arena that is a huge airport hub(Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Minneapolis, Denver, LA, NYC).

There would be just 4 alliances to make it to this final level. The teams(a skeleton crew, maybe just drive team and elims pit crew) would be flown out for a single saturday, on FIRST’s(or hopefully the broadcast sponsors’) dime. You could of course bring the whole team, but it would cost you, and they wouldn’t be allowed on the field except for pictures at the end (as is usually the case for elims pit crew). This whole event would take less than 2 hours, and could be easily televised, with interviews with drivers and whatever.

Highest seeded north plays lower seeded south, Lower seeded north plays Higher seeded south, winners of those play each other. This final championship is one day, so shouldn’t be TOO taxing on everyone. Its free, and awesome, and you would assume anyone would go. Because FIRST has the robots in their control, you could hold this at any time, the next weekend, or even the summer, and the season is essentially frozen in time. Don’t allow any witholding allowance for superchamps. Allow minimal time to work on robots so they are in a very close state to how they were at the end of their championship.

It also could be an intimate place to roll out a red carpet and really schmooze some sponsors, as well as bring FIRST more into the public eye.

This idea is way too specific. I just had to make some arbitrary decisions to write it out coherently, so it of course needs tweaking.

Also, its not my idea, I put it together from reading that super long thread

This is actually a reasonable proposal… It ain’t great but it does use both venues and could maybe be a solution.