Status of FRC in Michigan now that sports are resuming?

Just wondering what’s next for FRC and other FIRST programs in Michigan now that sports are resuming.
From MLive:
All high school sports are back on.
• Practices for football may resume Sept. 8, with an adjusted six-game schedule beginning Sept. 18.
• Boys soccer may begin competition immediately.
• Volleyball and girls swimming and diving may start competition Sept. 9.

1 Like

FIRST completely cancelled the 2020 season and is not supporting off-season events, so don’t expect any FRC anywhere for the rest of the year. Their plan for 2021 should be announced this month before registration opens.


Yeah, I am aware of event cancellations. I am more interested in whether or not teams will be allowed to meet and work in their shops (under strict protocols I presume) since football and other sports are starting up.

Keep in mind, football in particular often generates money for the school via various channels. Not to be accusatory, but this closely parallels incentives for countless botched “reopenings”.


In the absence of a statewide health order prohibiting in-person gatherings/school activities, it’s up to each school district to make the call on what on-campus activities can be held. So I feel confident predicting that some teams in Michigan will be allowed to meet & work in their shops this fall, and others will not.

1 Like

I think an important question to consider is not “will they be”, but “should they be”?


Under the current restrictions of my school district, we are allowed to have meetings with FTC and FRC, but facial coverings must be worn at all times, and temperature and screening questions have to be asked upon arrival.

*EDIT- We are located in SE Mi. I also know that FTC in FiM is traditionally in the fall, but it has been moved during the regular FRC season. More info about this can be found here - 08.20.20 Team Eblast – FTC

I guess the crux of the issue is “Is meeting for robotics worth risking the health and safety of our students?”

Sure, you can minimize the risk by social distancing, requiring face coverings, conducting temperature checks, etc., but the only way to truly eliminate the risk currently is by not meeting in-person at all.

Is meeting in-person for robotics necessary given the current circumstances?
What are the protocols to follow when one team member / mentor gets sick?
How many lives of students / mentors are we willing to risk?


Every thing we do has risk involve. Every time I ask a student to turn on the robot, operate in a machine, or even drive to a meeting, I am risking the safety of a student.

The only true way to eliminate this risk is to not meet in-person at all. Robotics is not necessary at all.

And yet, we accept these risks, because we understand there is net good in the work we do. Covid-19 poses yet another risk. We as mentors and students have the responsibility to have the discussion about whether the many factors that make our individual teams unique constitute a re-opening. I believe there are some teams that can re-open and some that can not, purely based on their unique circumstances, location, and member demographic.

With ever evolving information, the most important thing for teams to do is not to open nor to close, but to stay informed on scientific facts that can help them balance the pros and cons of this unique situation.


Not saying you should or should not but you do not need FIRST’s support to run an event. Their support helps (FMS, field) but it’s not necessary.


I understand the sentiment, but I think it’s also important to put it in a broader context. Asked another way, if students are meeting in-person for school, sports (including contact sports), and other activities in a given region, why should robotics be different? Is there something about our meetings that would make them inherently more dangerous than these other in-person activities?

My team developed a plan for meeting in-person. It’s 3 pages long and covers pretty much every aspect of what we do at meetings. We recognize that there is risk involved in meeting in person, but just like we do with other risks (like using power tools!), we’ve identified mitigations to minimize those risks and make it a manageable situation. The remaining risk has to be weighed against the benefit for the students, in terms of their continuing education and inspiration within the team (some stuff can’t be done effectively remotely, while other stuff can) and their mental health (continued isolation can be damaging, and getting students back to some semblance of normal will help tremendously).

The hard part for all of us is understanding how the risk changes over time, as the prevalence of the virus in different parts of the country ebbs and flows. Every team should be working with their school administration to develop their plan for the year, one that meets their local needs and keeps their kids safe.


I want to reiterate that point. As a rising senior, the cancellation of our season crushed me. Even just a return to online meetings is helping immensely, and is one of the few things I look forward to in these trying times. For students who are involved in robotics, there are risks and consequences to not meeting either. It’s a balancing act, one that is seemingly impossible but must be done.


Minny Team here
FRC 4607 will NOT meet in person until our county meets the appropriate stages. That may mean we don’t meet until December or even later.

Our partner FTC teams won’t even register members until late September (League Play in MN has been cancelled for 2020). And even then, the teams will build robots to meet game requirements, but only compete in house.

We are working diligently with our partners to offer a different competition that will cross a few platforms hopefully to capitalize on events in the summer of 2021. Our local HAC is very organized and extends across over 10 counties in Central MN. More info to come!

Not to be incendiary, but no principal or school board member is lining their pockets with high school sports money. Occam’s razor prevails and this is most likely due to parents and students overwhelmingly demanding that sports open .

I’m going to take a stab at addressing several of the things mentioned in this thread. First - the motivation behind the robots. UnofficialForth said that we accept there is net good in the work that we do. I agree with that statement, but I feel secure saying that most people (yes, mentors are people too!) want to get back to robots not for altruistic reasons, but because we enjoy it.

Football, and other sports, are very different than robotics. LukeB said that no principal or school board member is lining their pockets. I’d argue that statement is mostly true. But let’s take a close look at the motivations on a football team to restart football. I’m not prepared to tell you how many per team, but scholarships are a very real consideration for many students and parents. Even without the scholarships, many high school football students want to make it to college football. Perhaps not Ohio or Michigan, but maybe Oakland, or Wayne, or Saginaw Valley. There are a very wide set { } of reasons that people are pushing for football to return. Don’t forget, even high school football is an industry. From equipment to fields to uniforms to transportation to state playoffs, there’s money involved. And Michigan isn’t really a football state. Go to an SEC state and take a look at what part football plays. Even more so in Texas. Troy_dietz is right - money is very much a factor.

I’m also going to add we still don’t understand Covid 19 very well at all. Especially the long term effects. It is not just a respiratory disease. Recent German studies show a high incidence of cardiac involvement. I’m not going to quote numbers because at this point there simply hasn’t been enough research done. A recent study in the US showed that meaningful percent of athletes studied who exhibited few or no outward symptoms had myocarditus - inflammation of the heart. There’s no telling how that might affect them in the long term.

In weighing the potential risks against the resumption of robotics, the most truthful answer is that we still don’t understand those risks. It must come down to an individual decision. Above all, this is a sport of the mind. We need to understand the risks, but also understand the peer pressure and the motivations. We can’t compare our sport to sports like football - where there is enormous pressure to re-initiate the sport for reasons far outside the health of the athletes. We shouldn’t fall into the trap of using other sports or school events as a justification for our own.

Are you prepared to stand up and say it’s time to restart? Keep in mind that the first time one of those young team members who is not at risk goes home with the virus, symptomless, and infects their parents and grandparents that you will share that blame. Every time I see someone say that youth are largely not affected by this virus I cringe because I know they are discounting the larger effects of virus-spread.

In addition, we’re starting to see re-infections. Only a handful so far, but they are there and will grow. Doctors have long-expected that to be the case.

I know this is all quite preachy, and I don’t mean it to be. I’m trying to give some insight into what my family has discussed. We have 3 high-risk individuals in my immediately family, and we care for 2 grandparents that are approaching end of life. Not to mention that my wife is a registered nurse. Those in touch with medical industry largely have a very different viewpoint on Covid than the public at large.

Teams often do a decision matrix to remove the subjectivity of robot design. Has your team done one on Covid yet, and tried to quantify the risks and determine in an objective manner if they are acceptable?

tldr: Do the math, save the world.


If a sports team jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?

Maybe meeting is perfectly safe or maybe it’s insanely dangerous, but I have a hard time buying into an argument that is essentially what a 11 year old uses when they want to convince their parents to let them watch a PG13 movie.


On the topic of Risk - risk is a part of everything we do. In many cases, our assessment of risk is skewed by familiarity. Most people do not think about car accident risk when they get in their car to drive to work, school, whatever, but ironically, they do do think about plane crashes when flying. So even though it is statistically much safer to fly, it is perceived as being an additional risk because we do not do it every day. Similarly, COVID is new, unfamiliar and therefore scary. And while there is additional risk in the world today because of COVID, the overall risk level of risk that we face in our daily lives is only marginally increased by COVID. Heart disease and Cancer continue to be the leading causes of death in the US accounting for around 600k deaths per year each (combining to present nearly an order of magnitude more risk than COVID). Each have known risk enhancing factors. So, if you really wanted to have the biggest impact on your overall health and death risk, you should be focusing on the risk factors for heart disease and cancer before you worry about COVID.

But, I really want to look at this from another angle. As engineers, we are responsible for assessing, managing and reducing the risks imposed by the products we are designing. In the aircraft industry, where I work, system safety analysis is a big part of what we do. When we get it wrong, we get events like the 737 MAX crashes. As an industry we have developed very rigorous methods of analyzing risk and designing out risk (through the use of redundancy, extensive system testing, etc.). Risk assessment and management is a fundamental skill of engineering in this day and age.

The COVID risk and how we manage it with our robotics teams, can be used as a teaching moment for our students to help them see an aspect of the world that they may not have thought much about before but will need to manage throughout their professional career. To say that the best way to minimize the risk of COVID transmission is not not meet at all is exactly the same as saying the best way to avoid plane crashes is to not fly at all. While both are true statements, both are ultimately unhelpful. Understanding that COVID is transmitted predominantly through airborne transmission allows us to think about ways to reduce the probability of that transmission by wearing masks, maintaining separation, working in spaces with good ventilation, etc. Having the students think about these aspects of the risk and at least be able to understand how the mitigations reduce the risk is an excellent skill for them to carry into their jobs. Telling them to crawl under a rock and wait for the risk to pass will ultimately not help them to be able to come up with solutions that reduce risk associated with the products they will design in their career, or deal with the inherent risks in their daily life. We teach students to deal with the risks associated with driving by driving defensively, wearing their seatbelt, not speeding, using their turn signals, etc. each of which have rational reasons why they reduce the risk that the student can understand. We should be teaching them to deal with the risks of COVID by incorporating rational means that reduce the risk and helping the students understand how those practices reduce the risk - not by telling them to hide under a rock.


Acknowledging that this virus, as with essentially all its predecessors, may mutate ( to worse? to benign?) we can say with fair certainty that the risk to students - assuming no significant underlying conditions - is very low. Zero? Of course not. But probably lower collectively than the unseen risks of total lockdown and virtual school for, well for somewhere between one more year and forever. Until a vaccine is developed, tested and widely deployed we will be dealing with covid. It will only get harder in the late fall/winter when all manner of confusing garden variety respiratory bugs start to circulate. Now, if you want to frame the question properly, given of course our current and imperfect knowledge, what risk to mentors, teachers and at home family members is acceptable? That’s a fair but really, really hard question. I’d be willing (age 60+ but healthy) to have in person meetings with the current precautions. Events with thousands of people in stadium seating and ten by ten pits? My heart says Yes! my brain says…this is probably not a good idea. TW


There were rumors about what FRC 2021 events will look like. Now that I have received an email from our regional director sent to all Hawaii teams, its somewhat confirmed.
Every region has their own specific issues and challenges with offering tournaments, depending on what the COVID-19 situation is like.
My guess is the regional schedule of past such as Weeks 1-7 is not happening. Instead, each potential regional competition can determine their own adjustments to date, size of event venue, no. of teams, etc. to best suit their needs based on the recommended revised version of what a regional competition will look like.
My only guess is that districts will have a huge advantage because I highly doubt teams from areas outside the regional vicinity they are interested in, will be able to attend those events. i.e. Teams like ours wont be able to fly and participate in another regional outside our State.

But you guys can come to LVR if we open it up since we are your ninth island, right?:wink:

1 Like