Why won't FIRST fully switch to the district model?

When it was explained to me, the distinction was that the local organization bore sole financial responsibility for the district events, whereas FIRST bore some financial responsibility for regional events, should the Regional Planning Committee fail to raise enough funds.

Is this accurate?

Seconding this point because as much as I’d love California to finally move to districts, there’s always a handful of teams who attend our regionals who are out of state/country (California being districts would make the “coastal” West Coast i.e California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska all Districts). Moving to Districts would force them to go further inland and would likely up travel costs (not that traveling to California is cheap by any means). I know at San Diego we always have a Hawaiian team or two along with as of late a couple of teams from the Rockies or Arizona.


That was accurate when I last served on an RPC, circa 2008. The idea was that HQ could subsidize a Regional through lean times or while it was developing. I remember when ours first got to full self funding – not in our first season.

There may be some Regionals that do not fully self fund today. I don’t think HQ publishes that information, or that they ought to. However, I believe that many Regionals are fully self funded. Those are the areas that might consider moving from Regional to District model, if the funding sponsors see that their money could have more impact that way. There’s a strong connection between organizations that fund RPCs and people who serve on them.

I don’t remember the funding details of these regionals anyway, but this was sort of my key point:

The idea of losing that safety net (taking full financial responsibility for events) was a major obstacle to creating a district system in the region.

We have had this discussion in WV a few times over the years. I.e. what if PA, OH, SC, and NY form districts and leave us out? That would leave us traveling 10-15 hrs for each regional, and we’d have to do three to get the same competition time as district teams.

And I have to say, given that prospect, it would be better for us to join a neighboring district, even if it means slightly increased travel times. I’d rather drive into Tennessee or Ohio or Kentucky three times than having to drive halfway across the country.

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Yeah WV, VA, OH, NY, PA, and KY would basically be trapped if Tennessee went to districts.

A similar issue has been on my mind recently. In the wake of the pandemic, 365 is the only surviving team from Delaware - a state that I believe has always been able to count its active FRC teams on one hand. Yet, the state is in a district. Because of this, it makes almost no sense to start a team there; every event is over an hour away (and that’s at the close end of the state). But because there’s only one team there (and relatively few in south Jersey), it wouldn’t serve FMA well to put an event there.

It’s an interesting catch-22, and I’m not sure what the solution is. It’s not removing Delaware from the district; the rest of the state borders FIRST Chesapeake (which doesn’t have events any closer to Delaware than FMA does, as every event in Maryland is on the other side of the Delaware River), so they’d have to travel as far as NY just for one event. I’ve seen it said that FMA is simply at capacity for the region’s density, and that the small growth year over year is evidence of this; but surely the Dover area - a city over 100 minutes from any FRC events - could support several teams if events were closer? Yet FMA’s duty is to its teams, and that means putting events near them.

Of course, I’m not sure the regional model is much better for kickstarting growth in areas void of teams. But it seems if you draw district lines that are very sparse at the edges, they’re destined to stay that way.


A FIRST district organization’s duty is to the vision and mission of FIRST. That goes beyond its existing teams. Much like the duty of a church goes beyond serving the needs of its existing members. Both have a duty to reach new people.

In 2008, FiM didn’t have many teams in SW Michigan. That is not the situation today.


There are. Probably more now than pre-pandemic, as costs went way up since 2020 (I heard it was close to a 40% increase, across the board). That’s increased costs for everything - venues, A/V equipment/crew, catering for volunteers, pipe and drape rental, EMT, etc.

At least with regionals, we’ve seen that adding events helps to jump start growth in an area. That’s part of the RD’s job - when it’s clear a new event is needed, figuring out where to put it. That means gauging interest for new teams (aka schools that would have a team of an event were closer) as well as identifying where the pressure for a new event is (aka where the growth has been that is driving the need for a new event). You need to pull out the crystal ball and predict how registration will look depending on where you add the event, and then put it where you believe it will do the most to both help future growth and increase sustainability for existing teams. It’s a hard job!


Jon the insights you’re sharing in these posts are really valuable, thanks.


The key issue for WOW, in my opinion, is that a district proposal has been on FIRST’s desk for years now with no positive or negative response…

I’d like to see a blurring of lines between district and regional participation and advancement. Let district teams earn advancement points in events outside of their district, even regionals. Have regional teams earn points for advancement similar to districts but without the DCMP step. The advancement slots should be divied up by a predetermined quota per area, not how many wildcards get generated or burned.

This eases issues of team density requirements for districts and locking regional teams out of events that move to districts.

I’m sure there are tons of flaws and obstacles to this but :man_shrugging:


I suppose that is true - but at the end of the day, they need to make sure they place their events in locations teams and volunteers are willing to register for.

Of course, there are other ways to help teams in underserved areas get off the ground.

That all makes sense. I made my post in part due to how/where new FMA events have sprung up over the last few seasons, but perhaps that’s not fair.

This is my objective as well-- towards complete border dissolution.

A possible set of steps to making this a reality are:

  • An official interdistrict play for points (IPP) pilot program between two districts, say CHS and NC. Each district’s teams qualifies for their home-district’s championship.
  • In year 2 or 3, expansion of the pilot to additional districts, with additional pop-up DCMPs designed to cover the highest-ranked teams from the local area, regardless of home district membership. Points are still awarded by the home district. Where there are multiple districts sending teams to a pop-up DCMP, the responsibilities for the event (including the costs) are shared between the home district PDOs proportionally.
  • In year 4 or so, add invite-only participation of regional teams at DCMPs according to points that they would have been awarded had they participated in the district model.

Similarly, in 2008 the Upper Peninsula had 4 teams (857, 1596, 2153, and 2586). In 2009 when Michigan went to districts, our closest event was Traverse City over 350 miles away. The state of Delaware is only about 100 miles tall, and the entire district is only 250 miles tall.

And now the UP is at about 40 teams. Edit: after looking through the team list, we’re closer to 30 this year post-pandemic.


I may not have been clear enough earlier, when I referred to the increased number of teams in SW Michigan since 2008. That increase didn’t just happen, it is a consequence of concerted effort and planning by FiM and highly motivated local leaders. FiM placing a district event here was one part of that plan, and it preceded the team growth. Another part of the plan was finding fertile ground (leaders, administrators, business sponsors) to plant new teams. Gail Alpert and John Mannisto did that. They don’t post here much.


but then…gulp We’d be playing with @marshall. oof. shiver :wink:


I don’t think we’re necessarily saying different things; I don’t believe an event closer to Delaware or further in South Jersey to be impossible. It’s just a process (and one that I have no idea if FMA is going through).

Sign me up!

Ha - it’s certainly better than other areas, that’s true. In a region as dense as ours (not just with regards to FIRST, but in general), a drive of more than half an hour is seen as pretty lengthy, however.

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