Should FIRST Allow Teams to Pay to Play at More Than 2 Comps?

Should teams with deeper pockets be allowed to pay to play extra competitions? Why shouldn’t they be? Your already paying for 2, why can’t you pay for another? Why would they even want to compete again, all they are doing is taking away trophies from others?

As I’m only familiar with the district system, I have opted not to comment on the regional system, but the problem is prominent within the district system: Many teams with vast resources often times pay their way into a 3rd competition.

Often these teams are the most competitive of the pack, and this only makes them more so as they get more practice/out of bag time. Not only this, teams that end up losing to the pay to players lose out on blue banners, awards, and valuable ranking points. Plus these teams get way more playing time than the rest of us, how is that fair?

However there is another side of the coin, why shouldn’t teams be allowed to play more if they raise more money? Is that not how FIRST works anyway? Plus, if FIRST takes this money from wealthy teams they could re-invest the money back into struggling teams to help them register. More time to compete helps draw more students to FRC, and brings up the level of play (at least for the teams that can afford). It helps FIRST fill up comps that might otherwise go empty. Ranking points they earn don’t go towards these teams, so they aren’t really taking anyone spot at Districts Champs. So what’s the harm?

I don’t know what the correct answer, but i’d love to see how others feel about the subject!

Full Disclaimer: This post is in no way a response to my teams recent loss in the finals to a team that was at their third comp. The majority of this post was wrote before the comp, and there is absolutely no hard feelings towards the team in question. They were a pleasure to play and absolutely deserved the win. We were just happy to get as far as we had, and will now be going to District Champs for our first time in 5 years. :grinning:

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This is like a six edged sword. Here are a few other things to consider.

Is the relationship between teams paying for third plays and the more competitive of the pack a correlation or causation, if the later, which is first?

How would it be if teams were not allowed third plays? Would more remote events not get to 24 teams? Would the now smaller events have more teams seeing an opponent two, three or four times at a higher rate? Would there be less events? Would teams have to travel further to the remaining events? Would the lack of additional events cause issues if a team is not able to travel due to the weather?

Is there a difference between have a third play at a district or at a regional? (remember, if you do three districts, only the first two count for points, if you do two districts and a regional, both districts count for points regardless of order)

Is there a correct answer? Or can we just say live and let live?

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I know FiM lets teams to play more than twice to try and fill out the event because otherwise you might see 30 team events sometimes.

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I think it’s more like a positive feedback loop.

If you think 3 district events is too many, you should look at teams who do 3 district events plus 1 regional

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I think the finances of the district system are a bit more complicated than you might first assume.

Your district in particular has negotiated a special financial arrangement with HQ. You might want to read up on this and see if this changes your opinion: https://firstwa.org/Team-Resources/FIRST-Robotics-Competition-Team-Resources/Payment-Details/FRC-Funding

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Teams doing 3rd events is part of the reason West Valley has more than 24 (if that) teams.

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Yes, teams should be able to play more than 2 competitions in the regular season.

More money means more sponsors. Teams should be awarded for having more sponsors. My team does not actively seek out sponsors like they should and that is one of their issues. In my mind, the teams which do not have money are that way because they do not prioritize sponsorship as highly as they should.

If your team wants to gain the competitive edge of playing an additional competition next season, start fund raising now so that you can.

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My team does a third play regularly, so I admit I am not neutral on the subject. I appreciate the discussion and you bringing it up.

One quick note: starting next year there will be no advantage from an unbag time - the robot is never bagged, so all teams can work on it as much as they want.

I do believe that it is the right decision to allow teams to compete at a third event. Filling out the competition to have enough teams is a big reason why.

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When you are in a quite small town, it is hard to find sponsors. My mentors have reached out many times in the past to AAF Flanders and have gotten no response so they have stopped reaching to them.

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Take a look at the district payment structure here: https://www.firstinspires.org/robotics/frc/pricing-and-payment
A third district costs only 10-20% as much as the first two, which helps address the disparity between high- and low-resource teams somewhat. (Of course, the events with openings for third plays aren’t always close to areas with lots of teams, so travel expenses are definitely a factor too.)

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Just wondering- Are non-district teams allowed to become a part of a district nearby? NY teams are not part of any districts. May they officially become a part of MAR/NE? Or could they not go to any regionals of NY and attend 1 or 2 district events at MAR/NE?

Nope. There was a thread recently about this.

AK was able to join PNW, but everyone had to agree to it (PNW, AK, Team, FIRST) iirc.

I know it’s super common in NE to see teams play as many as 4 events before district champs, and this plays a HUGE factor in how insanely competitive our district champs is. A lot of these teams end up taking blue banner and district points from those who desperately need them even if it doesn’t change that teams own standing. There’s also been district teams who’ve taken worlds slots by winning regionals, so at this point nothing they do in districts even matters. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I personally think that they shouldn’t be able to. Because of the nature of district champs and how an extra event or practice can hugely benefit a team, I don’t think it’s fair for those who for whatever reason can’t go to an extra event. It just raises the skill gap even more and leads to powerhouse teams that are becoming impossible to face year after year.

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While local sponsors are great for maintaining a relationship, there are also many companies which will sponsor you even if they are not nearby.

I do recognize that more rural areas will struggle with this though.

Yes. Can we move on to the next silly question?

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This is a sidenote that I’ve been thinking about more recently. FIRST should be doing more to get out in the community and develop “baseline” sponsors for teams like that.

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While there are many teams that do “public outreaches” we do not have the capability for that as we consists of 2 mentors which are both tech teachers in the school. One is retiring in june. Meanwhile, we are planning to do a show and tell during a school period to our retiring mentor’s 8th graders. If that goes well, we hope to do an assembly or the like directed at all 8th graders.
By public outreaches, i meant something like a day event outside of school during summer, weekends, etc. We do get involved in the flag day parade but that is just a robot on boards in a tow trailer. It prevents us from being able to drive the robot but only operate the elevators (last year) and if we do it this year, the 4-bar.

Is it just us or is it that you cannot connect wirelessly even after the reprogram if you aren’t indoors? We had this problem last year. It led to us using the ethernet cable which worked but we wished we could’ve driven the bot.

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I hope you understand that by saying “FIRST” I didn’t mean your team, but rather your state’s regional or district directors, and FIRST HQ. Your team is an example of why this is needed. There have been several threads this year on CD about sustainability, and this is one of the key elements.

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