Texas Teams - How have Time Limits Impacted You?

A handful of years ago, Texas organized a state championship under their state sports body, UIL (and then moved to the district format shortly after). As part of UIL recognizing FRC (and robotics in general) as a sport, it made it applicable to state laws covering maximum practice/rehearsal time in extracurricular activities.

https://www.uiltexas.org/academics/stem/robotics/faq

It’s important to note that this 8 hour limit per week only applies to students and is defined from Monday to the close of school on Friday. Hours spent on Friday afternoon thru Sunday are not limited.

I’m curious how these time limitations have impacted Texas teams, and what strategies Texas teams have employed to best utilize their time under these limitations.

(Anonymous) Texas Time Limit Compliance
  • My team complies with the time limits
  • My team is unaware of the time limits
  • My team knowingly violates the time limits

0 voters

(Public) What Methods Does Your Team Use to Meet the Time Requirements While Staying Competitive
  • My team uses extended meeting hours on the weekend (including Friday)
  • My team splits weekday meetings among sub-teams
  • My team utilizes remote work
  • My team ONLY meets during weekdays for less than <8 hrs per week
  • My team does not comply with the time limitations
  • Other (explain in thread)

0 voters

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I’m curious what counts as “practice” and “rehearsal” in the context of an FRC team. If this only applies to drive practice, I don’t think this limit would effect a teams ability to compete at a high level relative to the rest of the world. However if this applies to all meeting time then I am very skeptical.

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I have always understood this to mean all meeting time. The idea is to allow enough time for students to complete homework and other activities outside of their sports and extracurriculars.

Does working out in a weight room, studying a playbook, etc not count towards the 8 hour limit for a football player?

I find it hard to believe that many competitive activities truly only have students spending 8 hours a week on it. I guess I haven’t been in Texas long but my experiences everywhere else I’ve lived points to this not being likely.

Here’s a PDF covering this policy (and others) from a few years back:

In that, they specifically note that film review counts towards the 8 hours.

I ensure that each student involved in my team spends less than 8 hours a week (excluding holidays and weekends) reviewing athletic film.

also, athletics, fine arts, and academics have different rules that only apply to their areas. for example, there is no amateur rule for academics, so Johnny Football can’t sell signatures but Joanna Coder can sell apps on the app store.

Currently, there is no definition for practicing and rehearsal in academics.

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Yeah, the definition gets even more unclear with the advent of virtual meetings/remote work.

Is a group of designers working remotely over discord/zoom a meeting?
Is a single student working on design independently at home a practice?

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inb4 “It’s perfectly clear to me what constitutes a meeting, and therefore it’s clear to everyone. Anyone who expresses a doubt is a rules lawyer.”

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Can’t speak to high schools in Texas, but in the NCAA these rules are strictly enforced, with massive punishments for teams who are caught violating the rules. A lot of these punishments stem from schools calling out violations on other schools. I’m guessing the compliance budgets at the high school level are tiny compared to the NCAA, and I have no idea what the culture is like around schools reporting other schools.

edit/ Here’s a very simplified overview of the NCAA “20 hour rule”, which looks like it was made in Office '97

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Our best attempts at observing UIL when I was on 1296 went like:

  • Meet 8 hours between Monday and Thursday (due to weird definitions of a week)
    • Each meeting was 3 hours with a 20 minute break for dinner, we got the dinner break approved as “not part of practice” by the principal.
    • Students had to log their hours. Students with too many hours were sent home.
  • Meet longer(ish) on Friday and Saturday. We tended to end meetings when they stopped being productive. They rarely went that late/long. Our school/teachers/parents were not fond of the idea of meeting on Sunday, so we didn’t.

I don’t remember when UIL started, but I know in 2018 we had students doing more work on their own at home.

We definitely had to get creative with scheduling different sub-teams when we were getting into crunch time - I distinctly remember having programming-only nights or mechanical-only.

We really struggled with “what counts as practice” and erred on the side of caution - the risks for going over UIL was potentially having all of your school’s sports halted.

90% of the time it didn’t really affect us - it forced us to end meetings and take a day off which isn’t bad. 10% of the time was when deadlines were coming up and we had to figure it out - in a funny turn of events it was the Chairman’s team that needed the extra time

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My team’s not in Texas, but (during normal seasons) we would be in compliance with this rule during build season. In 2020, for example, our meeting schedule was:

  • 3 hours right after school on Tuesday
  • 3 hours in the evening on Wednesday
  • 6 hours after school on Friday
  • 6 hours on Saturday
  • 6 hours on Sunday

And we kept to it pretty religiously, only extended a meeting once or twice. The previous year we had 3 hours Thursday and 3 hours Friday instead of the 6 hours on Friday, so we would have been slightly above the 8-hour rule. But we really liked the long Friday meeting and would probably do that again next year (you can get more done when you condense several short meetings into one longer one because there’s less set-up and clean-up time, plus the team dinners were a big hit)

Sometimes kids spend some time on CAD or video-making outside of meetings, but we don’t ask or expect them to (or count that time towards attendance) so I don’t know how much is done outside of meetings.

Overall, we found this schedule much, much better than previous years where we met long hours 7 days a week. When the kids had more time, a lot of it was wasted/inefficiently used, plus everyone was exhausted, stressed out and mad at each other for a lot of the season. When we cut back our hours by about half, we found we weren’t any more behind schedule than usual, and were having a much better time.

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This thread isn’t to litigate this policy in the first place, but rather to ask teams impacted by it (teams from Texas, not Michigan or Virginia) how they have handled it. If those teams need further clarification regarding this rule, Chief Delphi is not the appropriate avenue. UIL has provided contacts in their “side by side” and FAQs on their website.

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See that’s interesting.

When I spoke with Richardson’s UIL person she said practice is practice, if it’s not practice it’s not practice.

She also indicated that the worst that could happen was a warning.

I’m wondering if our districts had different experiences .

The penalties that may be imposed by the State Executive Committee on school district personnel found to have caused violations of ethics, sportsmanship codes, eligibility rules, contest plans or reporting practices are: reprimand, public reprimand or suspension from participation in UIL activities.

Source: Constitution and Contest Rules — University Interscholastic League (UIL)

Other penalties can happen at the district level. Not following eligibility rules seem to have harsher penalties, but our district tends to take practice rules just as seriously. I can see UIL just giving a warning for practice violations, but multiple violations can escalate to more serious consequences.

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100% on eligibility rules.
The meeting I asked this was on making sure all UIL academic and fine arts teams were using the district wide eligibility tracker.

Seems likely. I also don’t know how much different parties had influence on our level of strictness - maybe it came from the superintendent, the principal or just the teachers. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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ow my eyes.

Very little to contribute on the main topic, other than the idea that we’d technically not be in compliance for a chunk of build season. Huh.

I can see the value in a rule like that, I gotta kinda wonder whether it, in practice, means you have to actively kick out students after 8 hours, or if they’re allowed to choose to spend more time on robots.

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Seems like this rule would disproportionately affect teams with fewer students. Any info on whether or not this is the case?

Students with too many hours were sent home.

image

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I see where you are coming from but because weekends are free and students can work at home if they choose, I don’t think it’s any more of a disadvantage than having a small team and unlimited time… Either way your man-hours are limited by team size.