What should be the requirements to restart competitions?

I’ve seen a lot of discussion about unsanctioned events, as well as how teams are prepared to go back to meeting safely. But I want to discuss a different aspect of this reopening with regards to competitions. When should competition resume? At what point would you, as an individual, feel comfortable competing or volunteering again? Should the criteria be a vaccine? Herd immunity? Certain case #'s? If there is a vaccine, what if it isn’t fully distributed yet? If the criteria isn’t a vaccine, and some regions meet the criteria and others don’t, should those areas be allowed to compete? Lot’s of questions and I don’t envy the people who have to come up with the answers to them, but I’m curious what the general opinion among the chief delphi population is.


A year after I’m vaccinated.


When its safe. Which is a lot later than you want


Yes I am aware.


Then why the thread


Requirement #1:

ALL areas that host competitions have opened up enough to allow large gatherings.

Requirement #2:

If you didn’t read Requirement #1, stop and read it again.

We ain’t even close.


People have different ideas of “safe” and levels of comfort with going back to “normal”. I know the answers, and as much as I don’t like it for me personally this is part of my process in coping and coming to terms with this new normal.

I’m also interested to see what other people think about when it is ready to go back to events. Considering there are unsactioned off-seasons in the works that point is clearly not unanimously agreed upon by all members of this community. We’ve already over-analyzed a lot of other aspects of this and it’s the effect on our little community here, why not go all the way?


My thoughts on requirements:

  1. When a vaccine has been developed and a majority of the population has received it
  2. Case numbers have been mitigated and we have successfully “flattened the curve”

In my experience there is no such animal. We are an opinionated lot, but we don’t generally agree. And when we do have a strong majority view, it often differs from that of the FRC community at large.


As FRC is dealing with high school students, we are going to have to follow the school guidelines. Michigan just published their recommendations. Basically no indoor events with more than 50 people (i.e. Competitions) until we get to Phase 6 (post pandemic). Some districts may be even more strict.

The Michigan plan is here - https://www.michigan.gov/documents/whitmer/MI_Safe_Schools_Roadmap_FINAL_695392_7.pdf


If you want to start ASAP: When testing has advanced to the point where it’s cheap, accurate, and fast enough to test everyone coming into and out of competitions.

If you want to start when it’s totally safe: When there’s no confirmed cases near the event or any teams attending the event. Which I imagine could be never even if a vaccine comes out given the amount of Facebook in the world.

In my personal, purely speculative opinion, I think at least one FRC match will be played in a FIRST-sanctioned setting in 2021. Don’t know when in the year it’ll be or where it’ll be, given that certain areas may be ready before others, but I suspect it’ll depend on what happens during the rest of this year.

in my personal, purely speculative opinion, 2023 will be the earliest we see any official matches.


Thank you for the resource! I know that I’ve been keeping an eye on for resources regarding school reopening here in NH to try and understand what our local situation is. So far it is looking like we’re going to return at least partially in person come fall, but so much can happen between now and then it’s almost impossible to know. It’s very interesting seeing how other areas are handling school safety.

I’m thinking robotics competitions, as we have always known them, will be among the last things to go back to normal. I would lump them in with concerts, fans attending sporting events, and other large public gatherings. So in that sense I suspect it will be a while until we’re competing “like normal”.

On the other hand I know that FIRST is working on contingency plans for the 2021 season that will enable teams to compete in some capacity. So I’m planning to be competing when kickoff rolls around in January… I just don’t think it will involve large venues and lots of people.


Competitions should resume once we all get microchips from the COVID-19 Vaccine and from Microsoft. (/s)

For the moderators, my real answer is similar to Akash, after I get vaccinated or there is widespread availability of PPE for common folk.


When we speak of normal…
I just genuinely wonder. I never knew what it was like before 9/11. Everything after, is the “normal” to me.
How long did it take before the country was back up to speed again?
During the SARS pandemic? (Tbh, i didnt even learn this until Covid-19 happened). I found the date Nov 16, 2002 – May 19, 2004 as the timespan for SARS. Thats 2 full build and comp seasons.
What about Swine of 2009? (Neither did i learn this…). Google tells me the pandemic lasted from Jan '09 to Aug '10. Both 2009 and 2010 conpetitions were held, though, i dont know how things were like back then vs current Covid-19.
Wasnt there also a recession in 2008? How was the economy and how did we get through? (I definitely learned this, but forgot).

Note: these were mere late night 3 minute searches on google without in-depth review of info. Just wanted to read experiences from previous pandemics, before i was even introduced to FIRST.


Swine flu was nothing compared to this - it was relatively contained and the general consensus (at the time) was that it was a lot of worry over nothing. I was in high school so I was not super informed but I was aware of it and my life wasn’t affected. For a scope comparison, only 12k Americans died from it… we’re at 10x that with covid.

Again, I was in high school. Certain areas where hit hard (Michigan) and I had family friends in the banking industry lose their jobs. It definitely affected FRC teams but it did not prevent events from happening or close schools.

I think the point your making of “what is normal” is valid. There was a new normal after 9/11. There will be a new normal after covid.


I barely noticed the previous pandemics, and also the Ebola one, partly because they were more concentrated, better noted, and more importantly people had symptoms and were isolated quickly.

Recession of '08… Economy wasn’t great; a lot of folks had trouble finding work. Teams folded, yes…but about on par with other years.

9/11 was a bit of a punch in the gut. IIRC for a while LAX’s approach traffic pattern was pretty sparse (it’s visible from both the house I grew up in and the place I’m living now). But all-in-all… “normal” was restored fairly quickly. I don’t recall anything preventing an FRC season from starting about 4 months later, though there was a ramped-up security presence everywhere that persists today. The problem with using that as a guide is that, as terrible as it was (and is), it was a 1-time event unless you actually lost someone or lived in a target area. 1-time events are comparatively easy to recover from.

What we’re dealing with now might be considered closer to a major war: It takes a sustained effort from everyone to get to a point where “normal” is an option, and even then it’s not the “normal” we were used to.


The answer to this question is all speculation, so why ask? To get a general opinion?

All that said, we as a community will have no say in what the requirements should be or will be for competitions to start. The world is currently grappling with a pandemic that we haven’t seen the likes of in our generation, or multiple generations before us. It’s too early. Cases are rising in the U.S and across the globe as populations are trying to return to normal. Cases spiked, people are dying again, and the ICU’s are overloaded. Again. We didn’t learn last time. Therefor, we do not know what the requirements to restart should be.

EDIT: OH sorry, didn’t include the part where I think this thread is counterproductive and should be locked.


I think it should be left up to the experts, not opinions on CD.