The Problem With Events
FRC events large and small, district and regional alike have a common set of problems.Too expensive, difficult to start, and events take money away from local teams.Please stand by as I explain my point of view gathered from a lot of old CD threads.
In 2008, Kettering University hosted an event called a “Pilot Rookie Competition” March 7th-8th (Week 1), under the theory of a low cost regional for rookies to get a second play.The catch was that it was only available to rookies, had a $500 registration fee, and it didn’t qualify you for Championship in Atlanta (heh).
It was met with mixed anticipation as the thread quickly got sidetracked talking about both event costs and FIRST’s economy of scale (some things never change.)It became the Kettering Kickoff event as far as I can tell,and Kettering has continued to host a District event since then. However, the wider reaching idea of a cheap, small event in a high school became…
The District System
The District System today is a different system than what was created in it’s inception, and even one listed in the “FAQs Regarding the FRC District Competition System”](https://www.chiefdelphi.com/media/papers/2804) For those of you unfamiliar with Districts, it’s pretty simple overall.Teams do different things across two district events to earn district points, and qualify for a district championship based on this.
However, in Jim Zondag’s paper, there were several outlined tasks that differ from reality today.For example:
- District teams can now compete in other districts, but still no regional teams in district.(As opposed to Michigan being in isolation.This is a result of the district system’s growth though. Q5)
- DCMP was intended to be free in FIRST in Michigan.(It costs us $4k today, and as outlined in the paper.Q13)
- There are now district points associated with Chairmans and EI. (There were none in the proposed District system.Q18)
At the end of the paper though, Zondag outlines the three major changes they’d still like to make.
- Reduce Registration Costs
- Address bag and tag.
- Border-less society (letting any team compete anywhere they want, like events used to be pre-2009)
As a note, the paper was last updated on Chief Delphi in 2013, and we’ve still yet to see costs change, a change to bag & tag, or a way for regional teams to “opt in” to districts.To combat costs, and as a part of massive support from State government, FIRST in Michigan has massive rookie and sustaining team grants. that are entirely supplemental to the normal FRC grants.Teams can be started at a * profit*, and receive help at year 1 or year 20.
** Flex Events **
In 2012, FIRST was beginning to evaluate the move of FRC as a whole to a more sustainable system. FIRST had town halls in prospective districts and discussed their grand vision, being the Super-Regional System the FIRST Tech Challenge uses today. One curiosity to arise was
this image .If one is observant, they’ll notice the small red “FRC Flex Event” label in the top right corner.Now, this was never implemented or else we’d have heard of this all over CD, right?
Flex Events, based on the anecdotes of those who attended a town hall, were intended to be low cost regionals held in high school gyms, not unlike district events.They’d have been lower cost (likely between the current cost of the two types of event) and still advance to their prospective Super-Regionals.We never got Flex Events, but the principle lives on in dream for a lot of people who still can’t get districts (as shown in California, already running multiple small regionals in high school gyms, but at the full price tag of a regional.)
2017 Turkish Robotics Off-Season
About a week ago, I was sitting at school, watching the livestream for the Turkish Robotics Off-Season (TROS), enjoying the spirit and activity of an FRC event in the winter, and getting a taste of their regional to come.They ran a full field, normal AV, normal awards,actual banners, etc.Their offseason was the closest thing to a regional I’ve ever seen in the offseason, and I thought it must’ve cost a fortune to attend.I checked their website and was shocked to find their registration prices.
500 TL - Fee for Veteran and joint Rookie-Veteran team registration - No kit of parts.
2500 TL - Fee for Rookie team registration - kit of parts will be provided
~$130 and ~$650 respectively for one of the most amazing offseasons I’ve ever seen from afar (including IRI @ $750 and Chezy Champs at $300.)
My question continues to remain how they funded such a magnificent regional for pennies on the dollar of regular FIRST regionals.For less than the cost of the kit drivetrain, they offer a full event.Now, I very much believe that there’s some subsidy, but it’s incredible nonetheless.
Over the years, offseason events, districts, and other one-offs have continued to come up with cheaper, better events that give teams more chances to do well and spread the highest level of FIRST Competition, being FRC.Whether it’s subsidy from State Gov’t like FIRST in Michigan, a foundation like TROS, or just plain ol’ good offseasons run by people who care, they make it work.
However, regionals and districts have stayed the same price overall, causing a lot of regional planning committees to have to fund the event from other sources (as they don’t get a lot of money from FIRST to run expensive regionals.)If there are X dollars avalible to give to a community and the regional occupies Y% of it, that’s less money avalible to give to teams to actually make it feasible to compete.Some major sponsors have actually *stopped funding regionals *to instead directly fund teams, as they felt their money wasn’t being used effectively.
The question is why hasn’t the cost savings spread to teams? Events continue to cost absurd amounts of money with seemingly little impact on quality of event, little going to the actual people running them, and at massive difficulty.Full disclosure, I’m not on a RPC, or District Board, or a RD, or a KeyVol or a Senior Mentor, or anyone at HQ.I have no idea what HQ’s side of this issue is, but I’d actually be very curious as to it.
I’m curious as to what everyone collectively thinks, as this isn’t a small problem, or even a big one.It impacts every single team in FRC, for better or worse.But for those of you waiting in the wings for district, including:
West Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia (WOW)
Good luck, and congratulations to FIRST in Texas for the move to Districts for 2019.