Rookie Entry Requirements Are Too Loose


Unfortunately team numbers do not equal team count in the FRC system :confused: If only it was that convenient!


TBA doesn’t have this type of data because for years it had to scrounge it up from word files and other less-than-adequate sources. We got a public API for FRC from HQ in 2015! If HQ has this data, they choose to not provide it. You could, of course, try and make a community list of “rehashed” teams like 747 / 869, 1717 /5818, etc, but you said it yourself. The many potential ways and potential for misconception makes it a significantly nontrivial task. You want data, feel free to lead the charge on collecting it.


Oops. @Lil_Lavery I want to clarify a potential misunderstanding I inadvertently caused, with my apologies.

In 2015 I approached Frank with an unsolicited offer to “volunteer to serve on a FIRST committee that attempts to identify the specific reasons why teams exit FRC.” He very politely turned me down at that time, stating the following:

  • An attrition study had just been undertaken and completed.
  • The reasons that teams exit the program are very well understood.
  • The program retention rate (then about 94% year-to-year for 2016) was acceptably high.

FIRST may have a sustainability study in progress, but I am not aware of it.


How much is considered non-trivial?



Can you provide the data that proves this?


I agree, and I also don’t have the time to collect this data myself. As has been pointed out in this thread, keeping a team sustainable is a hard task and eats up the bulk of the attention I can give to FRC. But just because I cannot collect the data myself does not mean that my points about needing more data aren’t accurate.


I think your point is inaccurate and without more data to prove otherwise, I encourage all readers to adopt my position as truth.


No, I cannot. That’s why I picked a term as vague as “non-trivial” instead of specifying a quantity. I see the point you’re making, but also conclude that this echoes my general concern that we’re blind men feeling an elephant.


Sean, I agree that more data is needed to adequately solve the problem of team sustainability. Demanding data from parties that have no ability to present such data is unproductive.

In reality, this data collection should be done by somebody on FIRST’s payroll. By the sounds of it, it’s already been done and FIRST has had plenty of time to take actionable steps based on said data.

I personally wish FIRST would take more drastic steps to improve team sustainability as I believe that a failed team is worse than a team that never started for a variety of reasons already stated in this thread. But ultimately my opinion doesn’t matter. Your opinion doesn’t matter. Essentially nobody in this thread has an opinion that matters. I think it’s likely that none of us has:

a.) The ability to collect a significant amount of data regarding program sustainability that you’re calling for

b.) The ability to take actionable steps in response to said data

FIRST needs to solve this problem if they even view it as problem… which it seems like they don’t.


On the topic of data I wish FIRST would give more data in general. I think having stats on stuff like graduation rates for schools vs those on the school’s robotics team, gender/race breakdowns of different awards, etc. would be really interesting to look at and could help us solve a lot of problems.


It’s failed people that really bother me. Because you know, when I look at the count of all the people who have ever existed, I notice that many of them are no longer around. Most of them don’t make it past their first 75 or so seasons, and some, tragically don’t even make it through their rookie year. When they shut down it really causes a problem for the people around them.

Perhaps we should stop making people unless we’ve got some kind of test to make sure that they’ll be around for an infinite number of seasons.

Or is there some other definition of “failed” being discussed here?



I agree on both counts, but I fear that public outcries for action and claims of team failure rates/reasons without data to back them are worse than unproductive, they’re counter-productive.

As you mentioned, FIRST seemingly has at least some data collected. Perhaps our public outcry should be for them to either collect more or share the data they have. Rather than demand action

Falling upon the defense that none of us have the ability to commit actionable steps individually is kinda a moot point to me. We don’t have the ability to take action on districts or 2Champs or Bag Day or any other issue, either. That doesn’t stop us from discussing it, and it doesn’t stop CD from demanding changes that often result in FIRST HQ acknowledging public pressure. This is much the same, in my mind, except that we don’t have sufficient information to demand any meaningful change in an informed fashion.

We all want more successful teams. Let’s just actually focus on laying out a map to get there rather than rushing to an admittedly “hot take” solution.




To abuse your analogy, I think this is more like encouraging teenagers to take steps to avoid becoming parents.


Caleb provided failure rate data. Did you miss it?

I will accept as evidence the reported experiences of a mentor with long experience, including one with 13 years plus being a student team member. If you can provide more than anecdotes, that is acceptable. We all draw on our experiences, and we need to be clear in how we arrive at our conclusions.

I know of only 4 teams in Northern California that brought back retired numbers out of about 140. I have looked TBA for all of them for scouting or as an MC.

This is a discussion thread, not a court or regulatory case, and you are not a decisionmaker. In my 3 plus decades professional experience as a policy consultant, we have enough evidence to move forward to further investigation. We are never going to resolve this on CD. We have generally answered most of your requests. We are not going to dismiss the simply because you are making demands that exceed what is to be expected on this forum. But we are asking for more than anecdotes or pure speculation.

In your view, it is not legitimate to bring up a problem unless a complete study is done of the problem. But then how do we identify the problems to be studied ? As an engineer, do you ignore a problem until someone hands you the data? You are telling us to go away until we present YOU with satisfactory data, and we should ignore the collective wisdom of many mentors. That’s foolish.


Asking people to cite a source rather than make up stats exceeds what’s to be expected on this forum? LOL

I absolutely noticed Caleb’s stats, which I why I didn’t ask him to provide any on his post. It’s when other posters make claims like “X teams fail because of Y reason” that I challenge them to back up their claim. If you don’t want someone to call you on your claim, don’t make an unsubstantiated claim in the first place.


Do you have statistics to prove that my hypothesis is wrong?


Here are a couple of suggestions for people who’ve mentioned that they feel powerless to make institutional change.

  1. Make it easier for people to discover the knowledge they need and the mentors they need to learn it from. Formalize and expand the best practices knowledge base by networking with your peers and contributing your lessons learned. Help identify and celebrate the really great people who are truly serving as “mentors of mentors” in FRC, even if they are not serving as official Senior Mentors. Make your personal contact information known to your neighbors. Ask your local FIRST leadership to share contact information for other FRC main mentors/coaches in your area, this being necessary to facilitate learning and sharing among peers.

  2. Do not personally found a rookie team.


Do you have any to prove your hypothesis is correct? You stated a hypothesis without any substantiation, it’s reasonable to conclude you should back it up


Sure I could take a poll, and see what that results are but my hypothesis is based off the fact the everyear there are more and more rookie teams, and the level of ability and competition these rookie teams are showing out of the gate compared to rookie teams that were present 8-12 years ago supports that many alumni are joining teams and since they already know how first works the learning curve is less and therefore there better off. On top of this I know for inspection that in New England more and more mentors thatnare joining the scene are alumni, now yes they are joining teams that already exist but it tends both ways, is this really that hard to visualize?