Would FIRST cancel Champs with no refund?

My team was fortunate enough to qualify for Champs last weekend. The $5,000 is due in 2 days. The refund policy is “FIRST is not responsible for any Event cancelations or the inability of a team to travel due to weather, threat of terrorism, Act of God and other events beyond the control of FIRST.”

Are other teams concerned about this? From my reading this means they could keep our registration money if the event gets canceled because it is out of their control. I think everyone agrees there is at least some chance Champs get canceled this year. If you thought there was a 10% chance of it getting canceled would you risk $5,000 of your team’s money? What about a 50% chance of canceling? If FIRST would come out with a statement as to what would happen with our money if the event is canceled I would feel more comfortable.


As echo’d in other threads,
No one has full answers right now. This is an entirely unique situation, no one anticipated or though would happen.

As such who knows what adjustments are being made, whether entrance fees are returned immediately, credited back to your count, held until known if the event will happen.

HQ has a lot in their hands and it is understandable they may be a little slow with all the answers and they have a lot to figure out.
They need to assess the situation, and trying cover all the bases which includes trying to see how this all goes moving forward.
Due to mass panic due partly to media overreaction everything said will be over analyzed and taken to an extreme or out of context.

Simple answer just wait for HQ to come out with their answers very shortly. I’m expecting a blog post and or team update shortly to address these concerns.


I’d wait as well. Think of it this way - if you think HQ is stingy enough to not refund money you’ve already paid, do you really think they’ll turn down money that’s late?

Having made late payments for registration in the past myself…I think not.


The refund policy that you have stated is on the team cancelling or inability to travel based on circumstances.
What if the event is cancelled? I say it doesnt apply.
But if the event is postponed, this is the real question for discussion.
If teams pay to play on a set of dates at time of payment, can FIRST change the dates and hold you to their refund policy?
The biggest unfortunate circumstances are teams that need to play an event to qualify for Champs. That’s really hard if your event is postponed to after champs.


I mean, this is pretty cut and dry imho.

If an event is postponed, is it still the same event? Did you agree to attend “the event” or the event on that particular date?
Is the event is cancelled and then recreated at a different date, or simply “moved”?

These are uselessly annoying questions that will determine where literally millions of dollars will end up at the end of the year.


Are you asking me from a legal sense, from a sense that FIRST likely intends, or in the sense that any reasonable human being would interpret that?

I can’t answer the first one but the next two are fairly obviously that the Event that you registered for is the Event you registered for if it happens today or next month.

The passage of time is in fact something beyond the control of FIRST and therefore should be covered here. But that’s just if you’re not using common definitions for words.

As it is now - with the advent of COVID-19 and the lack of resources (game pieces, shortage of COTS due to shipping) - it only makes sense to adhere to the name of the game… Infinite Recharge.

Let’s call a do-over and reset until next year.


4414, 973, 1678, 118, 148, etc: Grumpyness noises


And dear friends of mine: 4728, 5348, 5464, 1816, 4009, 2052, 2987, 2491 (other MN Teams), and 4607’s own Dean’s List Finalist…

I spent far too long reading, rewriting, and then re-reading my reply…

Reading the policy like this is how I feel like it was meant to be interpreted, from my experience with contracts and clauses:
FIRST is not responsible for any Event cancelations[sic]”
FIRST is not responsible for […] the inability of a team to travel due to weather, threat of terrorism, Act of God and other events beyond the control of FIRST

The first section is exactly what you’re worried about, which is absolving FIRST of refund liability if they cancel. However, the second section is more about ensuring that FIRST themselves are protected against a team attempting to use the “act of God” clause, aka a Force Majeure against FIRST to attempt to get a refund… As someone who’s worked with contractors, and been contracted, I’ve heard stories about people trying to get absolved of responsibility of a contract by pulling an FM. It makes sense to include this, from my point of view.

Anyway, your concerns are valid, and FIRST could absolutely cancel champs. It could also be cancelled by another group, organization, etc. without much interference possible from FIRST themselves. I believe the best option is to wait, as previously stated, but… How long will it take to get an official statement, if any? I would give FIRST the benefit of the doubt, and assume that if champs were to be cancelled, there would be some form of reimbursement. It’s just that they do not legally have to.

To directly answer your question, as someone who’s more or less a third party (not a mentor, not actively participating in FIRST);
“If you thought there was a 10% chance of it getting cancelled, would you risk the $5,000 of your team’s money?”
Well… Yes, I would. Although it’s a hard question that I believe heavily varies team to team, your values, as well as the scarcity of that money (obviously). There’s no way you can put a percentage on the chance of champs occurring or being cancelled. Nobody knows, not even FIRST themselves. With that said, I think paying and assuming champs will occur as normal is the way to go for teams that can comfortably afford it. If you don’t pay, and champs happens as usual, I feel like there’s a potential massive morale drop… Especially to those who sunk countless hours and worked their absolute hearts out for this season… I feel like after seeing the amount of work they’ve gone through, they’d feel like the rug got pulled from under them.

Understandably, that money could be saved and put toward something else. An additional cnc router, new equipment for PR or controls or really any other myriad of things… $5,000 is not an insignificant amount of money by any means. However, if you’re really considering not paying due to the risk of cancellation, I feel like the entire team (or at least your team+subteam captains) needs to be present and able to air their thoughts about this. When any team’s morale drops, it can be very hard to get it back to normal again. I believe it’s only fair if everyone gets to participate in the conversation, as they spent all that time building the bot to be eligible to go to champs in the first place.

tl;dr - Just because it’s impossible to put an exact percentage on whether or not champs is going to be cancelled, I think the best idea is to pay for it, if your team is comfortably able to do so. Yes, that money could be saved. Yes, it’s not an insignificant amount of money, and it could go toward improving further years. The problem is, nobody knows what’s going to happen. I think there are other issues that are also to take into account, rather than just the virus itself (such as what @Chief_Hedgehog mentioned with game pieces, etc).


Well stated - it needs to be a team decision.

Our challenge is factors outside of our control. The registration is significant though forms only a portion of the costs. Travel logistics and insurance (including cancellation terms) are something that is a moving target and outside the scope of expertise of most of our students.

I don’t envy FIRST and the decisions they have to make - while team logistics are significant, as already discussed elsewhere the event planning is much larger.

Though our mentor team are pushing - safety is a true state of mind and means making the hard call - in this case event cancellation.

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As is the story of life. There’s always the “if” factor, always that crazy “something” that could cancel champs… COVID-19 is just giving a real face to air that potential, unknown fear into.

Yes, travel is not cheap in the slightest. I would’ve mentioned this more, but the post was mainly talking about the $5,000 fee from FIRST. This part of travel, working alongside multiple companies that could screw you, is very stressful in my opinion. One wrong step can cost you a lot of money, time, or both. Another thing that I was going to mention, but ultimately decided against, was talking about how nearly every company you work through to travel to FIRST championships employ a force majeure clause to protect them from damages. This includes airlines, travel agencies, insurance companies, and the likes.

I’m more worried about how champs will go if many more events are cancelled. PNW teams that did not compete yet can’t go, can they? They didn’t win a comp to qualify, so how are they going to go to champs if their events are postponed? - I think there’s a lot of other things to consider, rather than just the outright cancellation. I feel like if anything, they’d postpone it… But for how long? Nobody knows how long COVID-19 will be a problem for. Nobody knows how long the potential shortage of game pieces will last for.

It’s a tough decision, one that unfortunately many qualifying teams may have to make. It’s a decision that FIRST themselves will have to discuss, then re-discuss at a later date. If teams themselves are having a conversation like this, imagine the many conversations FIRST is having. Every event in at-risk areas. Every event that could occur in the future. Trying to guess and assume whether or not their luck will hold up in a few weeks.

As I read in another thread, it isn’t just FIRST that will see the effects of COVID-19 rearing its ugly head. Think about the other organizations that are cancelling, moving, or postponing major events. One of those was even directed by the city, with no control of the organizer themselves.

I would expect that FIRST would apply its mantra of Gracious Professionalism to whatever decision they take regarding the Houston and Detroit Champs.
I would think they are running a Crisis Center that is in touch with Regional Event organizers, on one hand, and District HQs on the other, on a continuous basis to have as accurate a picture of what is happening throughout the world.

I suspect some teams have tried to find available slots at Regional events where they can compete for a spot at Champs.

You have more faith in accountants and lawyers following that mantra than I do.


It’s in such drastic situation that we will find out if the FIRST organization “Walks the Talk”…


Well, they just told us that we are not going to get our $4000 back, as our district is refusing to let us travel to our regional. So yes, they plan to keep everyone’s money. Let’s hope they decide to live up to their stated values. So far they seem determined to not live up to gracious professionalism.

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It looks like your regionals haven’t been cancelled or postponed, it’s just a school policy decision that’s keeping you from attending. So I’m not so surprised that FIRST isn’t refunding your registration fees: they didn’t do anything to keep you from being able to attend.

What will be really interesting is whether they will refund teams that paid to attend competitions that ended up being cancelled or postponed. I would hope the answer is yes, but that would probably be a significant hit to their budget considering most of that money was likely already spent to make the events happen in the first place.

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This just in: FIRST HQ doesn’t actually care about you or your team.