There is a huge difference between ‘elite’ and ‘elitist’. As Cory stated, Schaddelee was looking for ‘elite’. I would assume the definition he was looking for was “The best or most skilled members of a group: the football team’s elite”](http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=elite), in this instance.
Of course there is no favoritism from FIRST. Everyone is given the same restrictions, the same kit of parts, the same rules. However, it’s what you create from those restrictions that matters - given that your only other boundaries are your imagination (and sometimes physics gets in the way).
Is there the potential for FIRST to breed elite teams? Of course, and FIRST is chock full of them.
What qualifies a team as ‘elite’? It’s a matter of personal preference. Some look at Championship winners, while others look at the list of Chairman’s Award winners. On these boards, there’s several teams we look at as elites because of their consistency in producing a machine that is effective, well-designed, and built to sustain the game’s challenges.
Many of them have the advantage of a lower team number - more experience in the program. Some have the advantage of better funding, some have more engineers within the robotics field, and some have a great parent base to support them. However, the real big boys always have one thing - my answer to this question - they have consistency in innovation.
Why is it that people flock to see WildStang’s designs, and have made the ThunderChicken a household name? Since when did the Cheesy Poofs become more than just a South Park reference? Why is SPAM no longer only a nasty meat-like substance? What the heck is a TechnoKat? It’s not because their mentors are big on ChiefDelphi. In a crowd of about a thousand teams, these team names stand out not only because they have great marketing and unique names, but because every year they take another new bot out of the crate that shows the time, energy, money, expertise, and imagination of their whole team. It stands out. Nobody in Atlanta says ‘You’ve got to come watch match 46 with me, that bot really stinks!’ - they say, ‘Have you seen Pink this year? They are CRAZY!’. You get 'em talking, and you keep 'em talking.
It’s not just the kids, either. Engineers like peeking into the insides of other bots, to see what everyone else has got under the hood. They learn, and they see what works and what doesn’t. They pass this enthusiasm for learning onto their students. The cycle continues.
Are there elite teams in FIRST? Definitely. It’s very hard to refute that. Even this ‘high speed chess game with flashing lights’ needs kings, queens, and bishops to keep the action going. As long as teams keep showing their consistency in innovation, FIRST will keep dazzling us all.