What is GP to YOU?

Before I begin, I will note that this question has been asked and answered in the past, though not quite in this form. Some of the spotlights show this.

What is GP?

The simple definition, of course, is to expand that acronym into the full phrase, Gracious Professionalism. But the real definition may be far deeper.

In the multiple years that I have been a member of these forums, I have seen just about anything someone doesn’t like called “un-GP”. This could be anything from building a practice robot to various (legal) game strategies to having “mentor-built” robots. In almost every case, the person making that particular claim is promptly told that he/she is wrong in making the claim. Why is that person wrong, either in the claim’s content or in the fact that it’s made at all? Also, why is the callout of somebody being GP rarely heard?

Before I post my thoughts, I would like to hear some of yours. Here are some guidelines to help you form your thoughts:

  1. What is Gracious Professionalism to you personally?
    1a) Conversely, what is “un-GP” to you personally?
  2. Keep it clean–no accusations (specific or general), please. Situational examples, particularly hypothetical ones, are encouraged, however.
  3. For purposes of this thread, I want personal opinions, not necessarily team opinions. In other words, I’d really like it if entire teams aren’t judged by someone’s post in this thread, as happens on occasion when the accusations start flying.

Why am I posting this thread?
–I think that the meaning of Gracious Professionalism may have been lost in translation between generations of FIRSTers. Or it’s been changed subtly over the years so that the old-timers don’t recognize it.
–It’s quite possible that rookies haven’t learned about it fully yet. This is a good opportunity to teach them–they’re done building, but not yet in the heat of competition.
–Ditto for some of the veterans–it’s a good refresher, even if you learned the concept thoroughly and live it.
–It’s a mental exercise. Can’t have a bunch of engineering-type minds idling for two weeks now, can we?

Again, I’ll post my thoughts later; they’re still mildly scrambled right now. Written things make so much more sense when you’re awake enough to tidy them up to be legible.

GP: When you get to a competition and help a team put together their entire robot knowing you’ll be competing against them that the same day

GP is helping other teams so that you will both have the best experience.

EDIT: Let me expand this. GP is doing anything to ensure that other people are happy too. What’s not GP? Being rude is a simple example. You’re making someone else not have a good time. I’ll post more later, but this is what first came to mind.

GP can have very different meanings in different situations, but I feel a good general definition is as follows:

Going above and beyond the call of duty to help a teammate, friend, fellow team, or community. I think the idea Gracious Professionalism is all too often considered something that only exists in FIRST. In reality, it applies to life, too,

A good metaphor for GP, in my mind, is the Medal of Honor.

Putting aside whatever differences you have to reach a common goal.

When a student, mentor or team is unselfish toward those he she or them competes against and cares more for the well-being, learning and potential of another student, mentor or team than any fame or blue banner could ever promote; is when GP exists.

There is no such thing as “un-GP.” When something is the opposite of GP, it simply is what it is. GP is not a standard; not to be forced onto someone or some team as a ‘shame on you’ for doing the opposite of our most exploited two-word phrase. Only when we see true Gracious Professionalism is when should we mention it at all.

This, obviously, is what it means to me and how I speak it to others.

Gracious Professionalism is declining an alliance invitation without creating hurt feelings or animosity.

Gracious Professionalism is being declined when offering an alliance invitation while realizing that team is doing what it believes is in its best interest.

Gracious Professionalism is watching a team decline another’s request at alliance pairing without booing or catcalling.

Gracious Professionalism is being embarrassed at an event by an underperforming catstrophe of a robot, yet standing and applauding for every award because you realize that as hard as you worked that season, the other team must have worked even harder to get their achievements.

GP is knowing that we are all on the same team, not matter what number is on our robot.

This means helping, supporting, encouraging, and constructively criticizing each other as we would our own team.

This scene from Buckeye 2005 is one of my most cherished memories of GP in action.

I stayed awake most of the night thinking about this thread, Eric.

What I decided right before I went to sleep was that I didn’t want to stray too far from Dr. Flowers thoughts and words. I’ve looked up his definition on the FIRST website and I also read the definition of Coopertition.

What I’m thinking about right now is that Gracious Professionalism and Coopertition work together but they are not necessarily the same thing. Gracious Professionalism can lift out of the competition field and into the community, creating unlimited possibilities for global impact and awareness in how we work together and communicate with each other.

Here’s the link to the 2 definitions in the FIRST website.

I spent the night thinking about all of my wonderful experiences in FIRST that have witnessed what Gracious Professionalism is and what it is capable of. I have also witnessed many moments that have involved Coopertition. It’s been a great 10 years and I’m a better person for it.


Here are some of my thoughts. There might be more later.

It is possible to separate the two halves of Gracious Professionalism. However, if you do it, you can get some interesting situations. For example, too much Gracious can result in running matches 7 hours after the event is supposed to be over because two teams can’t connect to the field fast enough every single round. Overemphasis on Professionalism means those teams get zero matches due to connecting 120 seconds+ late in any given match (and thereby not being allowed to compete), but the event runs on time.

By linking the two into one phrase, the meaning is charged towards balancing the two. In the above example, it’s giving the team a little extra time to try to connect, and assigning someone to find their issue whenever they aren’t on the field. Trying to get them onto the field every match, with a fast enough connection time that they don’t get left out.

GP is not something that should be used as an accusatory tool. Too many people have tried to do this in the past few years. Rich Kressly said it best: “Only think of Gracious Professionalism as a standard to work toward personally. Never use it as a gauge to point out someone else’s shortcomings.”

While using GP to point out shortcomings may be professional (which is debatable), it certainly isn’t gracious. This is where the opposite of GP, also known as asinine incompetence, comes in. Also separable, “ai” implies that not only do you not have a clue what you’re doing, but you also are rude and/or crude while you’re doing it. Nobody wants to have that tag applied to them; this is why I do my best not to apply it.

Cries of “GP! GP!” aren’t heard as often because Gracious Professionalism is common–maybe too common. Teams and individuals have to do something extraordinary to have it be talked about. On the other hand, the cry of “un-GP” arises when someone thinks–not necessarily knows–that someone else is not being “GP”, whatever “GP” means to whoever happens to be complaining. When there’s a lot of unrecognized GP going around, the rare “un-GP” call gets a lot of sudden attention.

I find that the idea “GP” is trying to convay is actually pretty simple.

  1. Compete like crazy on the field, and cooperate like crazy off of it.
  2. Don’t be an idiot.

Really, it’s just that easy. I also recall some spotlight post from a while back that went something to the tune of, “I can’t exactly define Gracious Professionalism, but I sure know when I’m not living up to it.

When push comes to shove, I don’t think that GP is something that is really meant to be defined, but rather something that is ment to be lived out and acted upon.

Regards, Bryan

GP is not calling someone else non-GP.

GP is working to make sure other teams are having fun too.

To me, GP is working towards the benefit of a collective community, knowing you may be helping your future oponent. It could be helping them fix/build their robot on any day of the competition, entering into a mutually beneficial relationship, entering into a purely altruistic relationship, writing a white paper, sharing your code, or even sharing your ideas.

I agree that GP is something that you should strive towards, but not neccesarily a requirement. If the spirit of GP and the seed of inspiration can be instilled into the majority of FIRSTers our future will surely be brighter.

Cooperitition was based off of that premise that oponents can work together to achieve a common goal, which to me is the definition of GP.

Plain and simple: Un-GP isn’t a real thing, unless it means “not in the spirit of GP” which as I’ve mentioned, shouldn’t be pushed on everyone.

my 2 cents

Many people are explaining that GP is what can be done throughout FIRST, such as at competitions, to benefit other teams. While that is definitely true, the real and whole meaning is to create exemplary citizens in our own local communities and the international community at large. FIRST and FRC are great avenues through which GP should be and is manifested, but the lessons of GP need to be remembered and continued into the world.