Unpopular Opinion: The Waitlist Should Not Exist

The Waitlist for the Championships lowers the overall competitiveness for the event and wastes teams’ money.

I recognize at first this will be an unpopular opinion, but allow me to explain.

The Waitlist lowers the overall competitiveness of the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP(S). If you accept (qualifying to compete at worlds out of merit) as a proxy for (being competitive), then you can say that the Waitlist clearly favors uncompetitive teams, as the number of lottery tickets allotted to a team increases with the number of years since the team has last competed at worlds. As it stands a division at worlds is less competitive than a district championship for multiple factors, and the waitlist is one of those factors. I believe that the most competitive matches should be at the world championship, and yet poorly performing teams are a very common sight which ruins the event for specators and teams alike.

The Waitlist also tricks teams into wasting their money. I am absolutely not saying that students on an uncompetitive team shouldn’t be able to experience the magic of worlds (even though it’s not as magical as St. Louis it’s still fun). I believe that EVERYONE should experience worlds. Worlds is great, you get to see and meet people from half of the globe, and you get to talk to so many students and mentors about how they do things on their team in the pits. You get to learn so many things from other teams, and you get to go to the talks! You also get to see the robots that you’ve been hearing about all season long. The reason why the Waitlist waste teams’ money, is that they convince a team to spend $X + $Y to go to worlds. If a team can reasonable afford to go to worlds, then they should definetly go! However, you really only need to spend $X to go to worlds. You can save $Y by not competing and saving on the registration and other costs associated with transporting a pit. Competing at worlds just distracts students from the true learning that they should be doing. Anyone can attend worlds, and I would love it if more students from less competitive teams started to attend. FIRST has been making moves over the year to get more teams to “go to worlds”, which I don’t disagree with, but this doesn’t mean they have to make more teams “compete at worlds”.

But what about all the extra unfilled spots at worlds? That’s a topic for another time.


The fact that theres 2 championships lowers the competitiveness of the World Championships. Lets just have it be called an expo already and be done with it.


So is your proposal to let unfilled spots be filled for free to teams that haven’t had the opprontunity to qualify or what? I honestly agree with you though, I think the waitlist slots should be distributed proportionally to regionals and districts so more people that have worked hard for a potential slot, but aren’t quite there can get it, rather then everyone throwing their name in a hat.


I’ve traveled with a waitlist team. It is still a fun experience but I did feel like we were way below the competitive level. And our 1-9 record reflected that. I think the students may have been a little mistaken about what they should experience there. They were too focused on the cause of winning matches that they missed some of the experience of the event. I’d have liked to hear more going to the conferences, taking in the exhibits, picking team they admire, cheering them and learning a bunch about them. The losses were tougher than they should have been and I think it hurt the group morale a little. We didn’t end up staying for the later matches. I was kind of disappointed by that, honestly.

My own team hasn’t ever waitlisted, but we are on a drought for qualifying for Worlds. I feel bad for the devoted students, in two consecutive years that spent their time for us but we haven’t as a team done well enough. In a few weeks, we will be going to Houston with some of the graduating students. But we won’t be competing, we will be volunteering for Worlds and then spending time taking in the pits, matches, expo, conference talks, and general fanfare. I’m excited about being able to have this opportunity and I think it probably is the right choice.


For what to do with the extra slots, I believe that they should be distributed to districts and regional events. Districts would just increase the number of teams they send to worlds through their pre-existing mechanisms, and there are currently threads on how to distribute wildcards. I didn’t want to talk about wild card distribution in this thread to avoid derailing it


95% of teams that aren’t competing at Worlds will not spend the money to send their students to Worlds, waitlist or not. There’s just no buy-in. In an ideal world, people would go, but realistically it would be incredibly hard to justify.
I attended Champs in 2015 off the waitlist and it was an incredible experience.


And the 5% that can should reconsider. It should be easier to ask a school for more funding to send some or all of the team to have a learning experience at worlds, than it is to ask the school to help fund the team compete when they got in through the wait-list.

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I’m saying that right now, and even if the waitlist were removed, very few teams that aren’t competing at Champs go to Champs.
It’s not just about funding, it’s about taking time off from school. Harker (1072’s school) would never allow students to just go to Champs for funsies instead of actually competing. I suspect most parents would feel the same way.


Yeah no. I don’t really understand this claim. The difference between competing at the world stage and observing the world stage is significant. Even if you don’t think the team “earned it”, from a funding angle there’s no comparison. A school can justify giving students funding and excused absences if they’re competing. Why should they do the same for observing if there are livestreams etc (not claiming it’s a comparable experience of course).

We qualified for worlds off of a wild card last year. 2nd pick of the finalist alliance, I bet there were more competitive teams than ours who got in off the waitlist. It was an incredible experience because we made the most of it. We knew it wasn’t just the competition… everyone attended seminars, walked around the pits and asked question, visited the innovation faire, and more. Plus cheered our hearts out for our team and other teams from MN. We didn’t have a lot of expectations going in so it was cool when we did win a few matches and contributed even when we lost. Honestly… getting stomped by 195 in my last match as a driver was it’s own kind of inspiration. Made even sweeter by the fact that it was not a complete rout. Definitely my favorite FRC memory until this past weekend.

For teams that go to champs every year it’s just another year. For those going for the first time it’s a life changing experience. I attended in 2017 alone, watched 2767 and 254 fill the boiler from the field side as a student ambassador, met Dean and Woodie at the Dean’s List Luncheon… the whole nine yards. That experience didn’t even come close to my experience competing with a robot in 2018. Saying that going with no robot is a comparable experience to going with one is disingenuous.


One thing maybe not in my above post was that my view is skewed being involved, having competed at a champs event as a student, and been there more than couple times. So for the students on the team that went off the waitlist, they are seeing with fresh eyes and also don’t know about all the things they could be doing. So maybe their (in my view) limited experience was life-changing to them. I can certainly hope so. Sometimes it is easy to forget the place students are in their lives with regards to how much they’ve experienced and how they view that. We like to travel as a team because we usually have members that don’t normally travel, maybe have never left the state. These experiences I know do open the world to them a little more, and I hope that all our students leave with at least a feeling that there are people with similar interest to them in other states or countries, and the possibilities of that.

Yeah at this point I think it’s pretty clear that a competitive world championships isn’t very high on FIRST HQ’s priority list. Giving people that inspiration and experience has always been what FIRST is really about.

Edit: To be clear, I’m not dissing FIRST for holding this sentiment.


Sadly, I think they have failed for me personally. PNW DCMP has been consistently more inspiring than CMP, partially due to the competitive nature.


Yes, there shouldn’t be a waitlist. Until we get a universal district points system, that’s not happening. For now, FIRST might as well fill the space they’re renting out 2 whole convention centers to use.

As a side note in response to the money concern, teams can turn down the waitlist spot or never sign up in the first place if they think they can’t go.

Here lies the problem with your argument. District championships are designed to find the best robots in their district.

But World’s is really not designed to find the best robot in the world (or even half-world). It is really designed to be a celebration of STEM and robots.

Once you accept that sometimes hard-to-face truth, then you should have no problem with waitlisted teams


I have seen the goods and the bads of the wait list first hand when it comes to competitiveness.

For example, 48 in 2016 had a super effective robot that made it to eliminations at CMP but had not qualified through winning an event. That is just the result of the randomness of the regional system.

On the other hand, our team had competed with wait list teams who could only score one game piece in 2018. So I see what you mean by the wait list issue.

When discussing competitiveness though, you also need to take into consideration the teams who did not qualify through winning an event or achieving a wildcard. Teams who get in through district points and awards may technically lower the competitiveness of the event, but they deserve to be there because of their efforts. If the CMP was all about competitiveness, it would be more like IRI rather than champs today.

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At regional the 2nd pick for the winning alliance can be as competitive as some wait list teams; so I wouldn’t just blame the wait list for the competitiveness issue. But it’s hard to justify to a school absence and funding to observe worlds as opposed to compete at it. I’m definitely more sympathetic to wait list plight, as my team hasn’t made it in 9 years and I know countless past students who worked their butts off but ultimately never made it to the championship. It may lower the competitiveness, but if it lets students learn things then I’d say it’s well worth it.

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I wouldn’t be real comfortable taking too many kids out of school just to watch. However, we are only taking some Seniors, only for a limited trip (2 days at World’s), and there was no school Friday (for in-service). So they each will miss one day.

I agree that if you took 20 kids out of school for half a week just to watch robots, you are probably not keeping their best interest.

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sounds like a solid reason to institute the District points system for EVERY team district or regional system and invite teams based off of that…


On one hand, I’ve attended Championship myself without a team on multiple occasions and enjoyed the experience and learned a lot from those trips. Further still, 708 had several of their members attend in 2014 (IIRC) as volunteers and had a great experience. I would encourage this to become a more normal thing to occur.

That being said, having teams attend without competing is a much tougher sell. Same with having mentors/teachers get off of work. If this is the direction that FIRST would want to move in (and I haven’t seen evidence that it is), they should seek out further enhancing the conferences and possibly seeking some sort of professional accreditation for them.

Ultimately, I don’t want to do away with the waitlist entirely. I think there’s plenty of room for discussion for changing how the qualification system at CMP works, but I do like that there’s an avenue for any given team to attend a CMP event. Perhaps it’s simply because I’ve been around this program since open registration at Nationals was the norm. I know of many teams and students who got in off the waitlist or open registration and had life altering experiences. And I know of many teams that got in off the waitlist and were far more qualified than teams that had earned their spot (including one team with six consecutive Einstein appearances, in which most of them came off the waitlist). Heck, there were at least two waitlist teams on Einstein in Houston last year.


1983 Skunkworks books travel for their seniors early in the year so they go regardless of whether they qualify (although they qualify most of the time.) They plan on volunteering if they don’t qualify.