Rookie Entry Requirements Are Too Loose


#1

Was going to post this as a reply to this thread, but it’s off topic enough I didn’t want to accidentally derail a potentially good topic.

Hot take, rookie entry requirements should be dramatically more stringent across the board. Spitballing here, but generally I think potential rookies should require something like the following before they get stamped for approval:
Provide them a list of the top 20 FRC resources and make at least 2 seperate individuals complete a quiz where they correctly answer 3 simple questions about the info in each resource (let different people look at different resources too, not everyone needs to know what screensteps is, but at least 2 people definitely do).
At least 5 students complete the STIMS process with parental approval
Budget of at least 10K and at least 3 unique sponsors each contributing >1.5K
Verification from at least 3 other existing teams that contact has been established
All requirements met before September 1 of the year prior to competitions

Man I feel harsh, but none of these are actually difficult, just a bit time consuming and require planning. And honestly, if you can’t get through these your team won’t make it more than a season or two anyway.


#2

How dare you offer ideas that would hinder growth! Program growth above everything! What even is sustainability?!

But seriously these are some good ideas. Even if they aren’t implemented on a program wide level it would behoove teams that start other teams to run their rookies through some version of the suggested requirements. Starting rookie teams that are doomed to fail does more harm than good.


#3

Our first year, we had exactly one sponsor, who contributed far more than $10k. I wouldn’t support the three sponsor requirement (or money requirements in general). Also, I think it would be possible to do FIRST on a budget of ~$7500, ($8500 for rookies) with enough existing resources.

This one also would have screwed our program over. We didn’t get the check from our sponsor until November. Our program also wouldn’t have been as successful as it was (or it may not exist), if we started the next year as well.

I’d have to think more about the subject as a whole.


#4


#5

Not that I completely disagree as there needs to be responsibility on a rookies part to ensure their sustainability but what particular problem is this solving?


#6

It solves the problem that sponsors are less willing to devote capital to a program where ~15% teams don’t last more than 1 year and ~35% don’t last 5.

Yes these numbers are approximately correct (I did some analysis on this a while ago that I plan to release when I have time).


#7

It’s absolutely possible to run an FRC team at 7.5K. It’s also possible to run an FRC team with less than 5 students, without having ever made contact with nearby teams, or with no one being aware screensteps is a resource. That’s not at all my point. My point is, let’s take the common failure points for teams (losing a sponsor, losing the guy who knew the resources, etc…) and force teams to deal with those before incorporating. They’ll have to do it eventually anyway or they’ll collapse, and unformed teams that fail before they start don’t do any damage, while failed formed teams certainly can.

My blood is boiling, not at you, but at how dumb this situation is. You all have fun with this thread, I need to leave for a while. :v:


#8

Budget of at least 10K and at least 3 unique sponsors each contributing >1500K

This is tough to accomplish in school boards where you can’t advertise/attain sponsors, where teams get a lot of little sponsors to fill their budget


#9

I’m going to start by saying I agree with the point of your message. We need to make sure teams know what they’re getting into when they join FRC and know how to access resources. They should have adequate funding resources that they can at least survive the rookie grants/initial donation running out*, and have more than just a single teacher/mentor running the team so that they can stick around if one of the leaders has to bow out. (I know you have to register with two main contacts, but lets be real a number of teams are just getting an admin to sign up as the second or are outright fibbing it)

But if you’re going to put hot takes out there, I wouldn’t be a responsible CD’er if I didn’t pick them apart.
Our team has had a budget averaging around $9K for the last 5 years, and we’ve never had more than two sponsors giving over $1K. My team as a student also only had two sponsors with bigger dollar figures. Both teams make heavy use of an extra curricular tax credit program in AZ for smaller $100 - $400 donations, to the point that we traveled to Champs when I was a student entirely off of those accumulated donations ($10K - $15K). I’ve heard of rural teams doing a similar thing, with 100 sponsors each giving a few tens to hundreds of dollars.
3 existing teams for contact seems overkill; why not just one to answer questions their rookie year? Much as some teams do network others are in isolated areas and just don’t get that involved in the community, especially if they aren’t having major issues. When I was with 167 in Iowa the team was like this, team got established when no other team existed in the state and they just didn’t network much on CD or with other teams. I’m sure it could have benefited them but its not like it has hindered their existence.
It takes most of the Fall for me to get 5 students successfully through STIMS because the process is so poor. I can’t coach parents through it when they don’t come to meetings. FIRST just needs to make the STIMS process less crappy.
Some schools haven’t gotten back in session by September 1. How are they supposed to register with these requirements?

I get what you are trying to make as a point, just have to push back on requirements that you “have” to meet to register (which is what I am getting from the words “more stringent”). The teams I have been on would not have met your criteria for 90% of my time in FRC, and they’ve all been around for over 10 years (498, 2662, and 167). Establishing general guidelines and having rookies show that they are prepared to address challenges in some way is the key. As an example for our low funding cases I could show that we have next year’s registration fee in reserve every season, so we can survive a loss of all sponsorship and have a year to identify new funding sources without folding.

*I’m glad that the rookie grants AZFirst has been offering recently require proof of other funding and spread out the dollars to help address this. You get $3K, $2K, and $1K over three years so that it isn’t enough to register by itself and you get let down easily as the funding runs out.


#10

Not taking away anything from your other ideas, but this 22-year team avoids using STIMS. Some areas/families simply are NOT compatible with this system. We do the bare minimum in order to submit awards. That’s it.

Besides we all know half of the reason for the existence of online registration is to make it easier to send families emails and other communications soliciting donations and such. I know with online mentor registration, the resultant communications border on spam at times. Negatory.


#11

When we started we had 2000 dollars, no tools, but our registration fee covered. We managed to be a first round pick. A 10000 dollar requirement is way too high


#12

If you had your registration fee covered, I think most would count that as $8000.


#13

True. We definitely didn’t have 10000, and didn’t even have a sponsor until during season.


#14

Just because it happened to work out for your team doesn’t mean it should be an accepted approach.


#15

Totally agree! Requiring ANYONE to go through the STIMS process is ridiculous until FIRST creates a better system.


#16

If you’ve been around back in the JC Penny days, you might understand why OP wants diversified sponsorship - JC Penny would give pretty much any rookie team enough money to register which created a bunch of teams (great!). The JC Penny program did not last very long and many teams did not prepare to lose their only sponsor and folded (not great!).

Running a team on 7500 is like saying “I passed the class with D” - sure, technically you are correct.

10k as a minimum is still an incredibly low amount - you can register and buy robot parts but that’s it. Need spares? That’s tough. Want a better driver station laptop? Too bad. Don’t already have tools? Good luck. Did you want to subsidize student travel? Lol.

Being on a low-budget team is added stress to an already stressful program - asking rookies to prepare financially would reduce the amount of teams who fold because the program cost 2x what they were sold on.

To say that your team survived on a small budget “so why can’t they?” is assuming that every single team will operate like your team. Maybe your team had built-in resources you didn’t consider - parents buying loose ends, a stocked shop, etc. Maybe your team didn’t - I don’t know, but I would not say that your successful situation is the norm or justification for “you only need X dollars.”


#17

I’m not saying that you don’t need funds. I’m pointing out that restricting teams like mine because they don’t have money isn’t right.


#18

The overly-complex FRC way to do it would be to have potential rookies earn points towards eligibility for entry to the program. Competing in an off-season with a borrowed robot would be worth beaucoup points.


#19

I pulled data for rookie teams created in 2013 (sample size of 404 teams). Here is a table summarizing their longevity:

Teams lasting at least x years 1 year 2 year 3 year 4 year 5 year 6 year
all 86% 74% 67% 62% 57% 53%
first third of registered teams 91% 80% 71% 66% 62% 57%
second third of registered teams 81% 72% 66% 62% 56% 51%
third third of registered teams 86% 69% 63% 59% 53% 51%

About 1 out of 7 rookie teams don’t even compete in the year they are formed. Why are such teams being given numbers if they’re not even going to compete?

Look, I really despise looking at the bottom tier of teams. I would far prefer to spend my time having pointless debates about if 254 or 1114 is the GOAT. But the data here is so obvious. I honestly think part of the problem is that everyone (including me) loves to hear these success stories of rookies that pushed through and made it against all odds, and we start to believe these are the norm, but they just aren’t, sorry to burst the bubble.

EDIT: My original survivability chart had some major errors, I have corrected that and the subsequent analysis


#20

Instead of a hard and fast set of requirements, it would also be possible for FIRST to have an application process and then approve teams if they have enough resources and preparation in general. Different rookie programs will be strong in different areas, but reasonable people could look at a team’s application and decide if they seem to have a chance at being sustainable on paper based on their level of connection to the community, preparation, knowledge, funding, membership, and so on.