Would FIRST cancel Champs with no refund?

No , it is a Santa Clara County Office of Education decision. The school must comply with it. While this is of course an unforeseen issue that no one could have predicted, and of course it hits the bottom line of FIRST’s balance sheet, I would love to see a more compassionate response. Say, let us roll that credit over to next year. Our county health department is saying all events over 1000 people are to be cancelled, there goes the Silicon Valley Regional too. So should all those teams also not get a refund? Maybe there is no good answer, but I am still very disappointed in how FIRST is choosing to handle this.

I think its hard to fairly judge FIRST at a point so early in this process. There hasn’t been a blog post, team update, etc. about refunds yet, and I believe their main concern is safety and monitoring events. FIRST HQ has a lot on their hands at the moment and they have never dealt with something like this before, so I can see why getting every case of refunds covered wasn’t responded to yet.


FIRST doesn’t pay a dime towards events happening, unless that event is unable to raise enough funds. They do pay for certain personnel to attend events, but your registration fees are not passed on to the event organizers.


With the sole exception of Championship and to a much lesser extent District events.

District teams kick $1000 of their initial registration back to the districts (or 100% of third/out of district plays)

In general though - Events are locally run and paid for especially the Regional system.


Oh I understand that, no one has had to deal with this in our lifetimes. So how about telling teams that this is under discussion, and they will make a decision later? This is going to be an issue for so many teams this year.

Although much of the money doesn’t go to the event itself, I think it would only be fair for teams to see their ‘Event Registration Fee’ as the price they pay to go to an event.

I personally believe that FIRST should, in good faith, refund this money to teams whose events are cancelled or postponed significantly. The reason for this is because FIRST is a much larger organisation than the average team, while such a refund would put a considerable financial dent in FIRST’s pocket, it would cushion a potentially crippling financial blow to a lot of smaller and medium sized teams. For many such teams, the cost of a Regional/Districts and a trip to Champs is up to 80% of our annual budget and they may rely on our actual attendance at such events to recuperate the cost from sponsors and schools.

Furthermore, the terms and conditions laid out by FIRST are potentially what can be what’s called an Unenforceable Contract under the relevant jurisdiction’s contract laws. I cannot comment definitively on this specific case as I am from a different jurisdiction, however the law may in fact compel FIRST to give a refund despite teams acknowledging the terms and conditions. I have every hope that if this is the case, then they would do so voluntarily in an exemplary show of Gracious Professionalism and not force teams to take any legal action.

I imagine there’s some cost associated with the Kit of Parts. Though, I don’t know how much of it is donated (including the shipping). In either event, the team is receiving that as well. I’m not sure it’s “fair” for a team to view the event as the sole thing their registration fee is going towards.

This argument works on an individual team basis. When you start looking at a large number of teams, this is no longer that simple. FIRST is a much larger organization. It’s also a much larger financial dent when looking at all teams. It could potentially be a crippling blow at a larger scale as well.

Thanks for sharing your informed opinions. As I understand it however, the vast majority of the Kit of Parts is actually donated (this is partially the reason why we get so many seemingly random and useless parts), potentially with the exception of the game pieces. Either way, if there is considerable cost going into shipping the kit, or if I am incorrect in my above understanding, a partial refund will still help a lot of teams out financially.

As for the latter point, this is a pertinent one. I’ve tried doing the maths but have realised that I am just not privy to enough of FIRST’s financial parameters to formulate any meaningful calculation. Still, I would argue that the number of teams who go to champs is small compared to how many play throughout the season, and that FIRST as an organisation is much better insulated to a financial setback like this than the average team.

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I was previously told the entire Kit of Parts is donated**.

EDIT: **By my understanding, from how it was explained to me from a higher up, though again I do not have a citation for this.

[Citation Needed]

This is by no means true. Components are sometimes donated, sometimes sourced at a discount / low margin, sometimes sourced at cost, but the KOP is not and has never been exclusively donated.


Could be that my source is wrong, I’ll modify my post to reflect that there are conflicting sources.

FIRST has an entire organization it needs to fund and has so far provided all teams with game design, Q&A, access to sponsors, preordered game supplies and fields, and many events. I do not believe we should be asking them to refund all money paid in the event that a third party makes a decision that is out of their control.

The maximum we should ask for, and I personally would not ask for this, is the amount back that represents the funds FIRST will not have to spend on cancelled events, etc. In other words, the unspent money. I would guess that is actually a small percent of the total fee paid.

FIRST is non-profit. They are in a tough situation, just like the teams are. We need to work together to come up with the best overall solution, which will not necessarily be the best individual team solution.

I’ll bet FIRST is way better equipped to eat the $4000 from a canceled event than my team of seven kids is.


Yup, but they are way worse equipped to eat that $4000 for 800+ teams current impacted…

Thats speculation unless you have access to their books.

Here’s the 2018 Form 990. They carried forward an excess of $3.8M (revenues - expenses) this past year. They received $24.6M in 2018 from registration fees. They held $15.8M in non-interest-bearing cash, and $18.2M in savings and temporary cash investments.


For clarity, my opinions are no more informed than any others. Just like everyone here, I’m speculating. I can’t say there is (or isn’t) an associated cost. But, it seems reasonable to believe there is.

I’m not sure why you’d make this point. You mentioned cancelled or significantly postponed events. We’re not looking at the number of teams going to champs. We’re looking at all of the teams in PNW, the teams in Australia, in China, in California, etc. If any of those venues have “no refund” clauses as well, there’s cash being eaten by that even if the event doesn’t happen.

I believe that’s mostly accurate. I also believe FedEx rocks out the transportation cost. Even still, compiling those donations into the numerous KoP is a non-free task. There’s SOME cost to it. I just don’t know what it is. My point is only to share that it’s not entirely fair to say the entire entry fee goes towards the event and teams receive nothing else.

Sure, but so is assuming FIRST can take on that cost. If you’re going to point that out to one side, you should be pointing it out to both.


I mean I have their 990s. Does that count?

I also know that 3.2 million is kinda a big hit for any company of their size.

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Im not assuming anything…FIRST or the teams asking. I just responded to a post that concluded the team(s) could more easily absorb the cost. That is still speculation. I dont know any team’s financial situation other than my own and i dont expect anyoone else to know either.