They're just volunteers!

As a volunteer that actually worked Pit Admin we were told that “all students needed to be in the stands for opening ceremonies” and unless there was good reason (i.e. still building the kit of parts) the pit should be cleared. Open ceremonies are an important part of the event and when most of the major sponsors of the event are recognized and the event coordinators feel it is part of GP for everyone to be there for the opening ceremony. Everyone would spend every last second working on the robot, we get it, but our sponsors, Dean’s list semi-finalists and Woodie Flowers semi-finalists deserve our respect too.

We are also told teams need to bring their paper work to Pit Admin as soon as they can; if you are on the practice field you had time to stop by Pit Admin. At least in Michigan we can not run the software to create the play list for qualifying matches until very team is registered at Pit Admin. EVERYONE wants that list ASAP so by not stopping at Pit Admin you are actually holding up the whole event.

This isn’t the rule in the manual though.


Things like this happen all the time, and unfortunately it’s often with some of the most seasoned volunteers who haven’t checked the manual for the current year.

And, the rules are the rules. If you had an Inspector quote a requirement that wasn’t a rule, that wouldn’t be acceptable. That same standard should apply to every area of the event. Just because a volunteer doesn’t agree with a rule doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be respected to the letter.

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Actually Section 11 doesn’t say anything about needing a re-inspection between quals and elims at all.


Queue dramatic music.


Section 11, paragraph 2:
Inspectors may re-Inspect ROBOTS to ensure compliance with the rules.

True but GP is at the heart of FIRST and let’s be honest, opening ceremonies are not the most exciting part of the event would everyone (anyone) go if not pushed by Pit Admin? Does every action have to be spelled out in the rule book for people to agree it is a generally good idea?

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That’s literally not how rules work.


I’m glad this topic exists because I feel like I’ve seen more BS coming from volunteers this year than any in recent memory.

One recent gripe was an event coordinator not only kicking everyone out of the pits for opening ceremonies, but going the extra step of sending the lead pit admin to run out to the surrounding halls and cafeteria area in order to make sure everyone there was in the stands. Last I knew 4 people could remain in the pits, can they do this?

I’m a 4th year robot inspector and I realize people are on edge. I tell teams to chill and that I’m there to get them on the field and have yet to see anyone head home without playing. The main things I’m looking for are things that are a danger to people, the field, and other robots. Some RIs like to make a big production out of things and put kids on the spot.


We honor our community and the generosity of our sponsors by respectfully spending the short time during opening ceremonies doing the final polishing that ensures we field the best possible robot for them.


Here is how the pertinent rules literally work:

E28. Team members must be quiet and respectful during all ceremonies except when applause or
vocal approval of a ceremony activity is warranted. Team members must not:
A. Use power tools
B. Use loud hand tools (hammers, saws, etc)
C. Shout, yell, or use loud voices, unless as a demonstration of approval during a ceremony activity.

Violation: A verbal warning. Repeated violations will be addressed by the Head REFEREE, the Lead
ROBOT Inspector and/or Event Management.

E29. Team members limited. 5 team members are allowed in the team’s pit during ceremonies if continued work on the robot is necessary.

Violation: A verbal warning. Repeated violations will be addressed by the Head REFEREE, the Lead
ROBOT Inspector and/or Event Management.

E30. Team members, including any remaining in the pits, should exhibit peaceful behavior during the presentation of all national anthems. Traditionally, team members stand to face the flag, remove hats, and either sing along or maintain a respectful silence during the anthems of all nations present at the event. If team members wish to abstain, they have a right to do so, as long as they remain silent and nondisruptive.

Violation: A verbal warning. Repeated violations will be addressed by the Head REFEREE, the Lead
ROBOT Inspector and/or Event Management.


And, quite frankly, the number of changes that teams do and DON’T get reinspected during and event warrants having everyone do it before the playoffs anyways. It’s truly surprising. I’ll have inspectors talking to teams as they wait to reweigh before playoffs. The inspectors will come up and 99% of the time say “they didn’t make any changes”. Then they’re off by a few lbs and the team remembers all sorts of changes they made and failed to have reinspected.

No time constraints however, other than the start of the matches. Teams should be able to go back to their pits if they want to. At my events I set up inspectors to remind teams to go get inspected for the playoffs… But I also tell them that we’ll miss a few, for whatever reason, and that’s fine. Tracking down 1-2 after alliance selection is a lot easier than tracking down 24!

I understand you were told otherwise, but the FRC Manual explicitly allows team members to quietly and respectfully stay in the pits. Teams should not be chastised for attempting to clarify this long established rule with volunteers who are enforcing an interpretation that goes against it.

Teams do not stay in the pit for fun. If they are getting to the point of bringing up a rule in the manual to stay in the pits, they desperately need that time with their robot to get it working.


This definitely sounds like a misunderstanding from the Event Coordinator (or whichever key volunteer directed you to clear out the pits for opening ceremonies).

I work extensively at FiM events as an LRI/FTA/CSA, and this is not typical for Michigan events and directly contradicts the rules in the manual.

I’ve PM’d you to ask for more information about the event (I don’t want to publicly call out the specific event/coordinator) so I can pass the info along to FiM leadership, as this is something that needs to be cleared up for future events.

I always figured the practice of a post qualification round inspection was to sate the tastes of the type-a robot inspectors that lose sleep over a team adding zip ties without their blessing.


I agree that it is necessary - as RI in Rock City, I saw some teams more than 20# underweight come in for re-weighing mid-competition when they added a small label or re-routed wiring, and others not come in after adding a couple of pounds.

My biggest piece of advice to all volunteers is to remember that FIRST is about kids learning and having fun, and the rules exist to make the fun safe and fair, not ruin it.

Last weekend I was lucky to volunteer alongside an outstanding first time LRI who had a great concept of the balance between enforcing the rules and making sure that teams understood them and learned and had fun.

As a CSA, I always promote the idea that in non-rule-enforcing roles, you want to be a friend to the teams you are helping. Tell them good luck after you solve their problems. If they’re rookies having a tough event, offer them advice and assistance to help everything go smoothly (“you only have two batteries and one charger? Let me get one from spare parts for you to use in this match”). You want them to leave feeling that even if they finished last, they still learned and had a good time and they want to come back.

Last weekend I had a newer team who struggled greatly with inspection and wiring issues. I was frequently following them off the field to help them rewire things and debug issues. During their last match, they full sent their robot into the hab at the end, a full on collision that in any of their previous matches would have instantly unplugged at least one connection. But they stayed up and didn’t lose comms, so afterwards I went over to their driver station and told them how proud I was of their rewiring, and how awesome it was to see them doing better. The drive team was ecstatic.

We’re all here for the teams. We all need to follow the rules, and help the teams follow the rules, but we also need to use good judgement about our manner and how to interact with students and mentors who may be very stressed and under a lot of pressure when things aren’t going well.


Welcome to Chief Delphi, and to the FRC community. I suspect your heart and mind are in the right place, or you wouldn’t be here.

A bit of advice, from one who has been here 24 years: do not offer up GP as a rationale for something you think others should do. It does not work that way. Gracious Professionalism is a standard each of us holds herself/himself to, and that is ALL that it is. And that is quite enough to get where we are heading.


Nothing in FRC drove me closer to the brink of insanity than my senior year during Stronghold dealing with our robot inspector at the Hampton Roads/Portsmouth event. We had spent all season perfecting our shooter, and made even more changes the week before during unbag time to make this thing pristine.

I’ll admit, we got one of those inspectors at Blacksburg who really didn’t care what our robot did. She just passed us and let us play. The absolute horror came from this guy at HR. I know the team he represents, and he was from a team that wasn’t even at the event, but COMPETING at another event the same weekend!

But let’s get to the actual problem. Our robot ( was “standard” for stronghold I guess. We had 3 solid sides with the front of our bot being open to intake balls. The front side had about 4 inches on each side to cover with bumpers. Which we did. Our inspector told us that since those little pieces weren’t at least 8 inches, we had to put a bar across the front of our robot and bumper the whole front. R19 that year stated

“ROBOTS are required to use BUMPERS to protect all outside corners of the FRAME PERIMETER. For adequate protection, at least 8 in. of BUMPER must be placed on each side of each outside corner (see Figure 4-3). If a side is shorter than 8 in., the entire side must be protected by BUMPER (see Figure 4-4).”

I’ll agree, the way it reads is REALLY up for interpretation. The way we read it was, “If a side is shorter than 8 inches, bumper that baby up and you’re good to go.” He read it as “A side has to have at least 8 inches of coverage, or you have to bumper the whole side.” I would’ve had no problem with him saying our robot wasn’t legal, try to fix it. But he told us, and I QUOTE, “It must suck to spend all this time on a robot to get shut down by an inspector who understands the rules.” How do you tell that to a kid with a straight face? It makes me sick. Not to mention, he inspected 3 other robots at that event that he did the same thing to, causing all 4 of us to be rendered almost useless for shooting.

Probably could’ve just wrote the last couple pieces, but it’s been a while since I told that story and I needed to get it out again :smile: . Also worth noting that his team was just inside qualifying for DCMP that year, and a couple of the robots he nerfed were just out. I’m a conspiracy theorist, so I was screaming internally at the season.

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Just because you don’t see the panic attacks you may have caused doesn’t mean they don’t happen. I’ll laugh it off when someone does it to me, it doesn’t mean that I am not mad at them for causing unneeded stress to my students. It’s not enduring and it’s not fun, it’s something that needs to stop. You can say I’m not fun but I have seen the bad side of it and I have had enough teams complain to me when someone does it that I know it’s a practice that needs to end.