Chairman’s Award is the one FRC team award for which teams must select a single event at which to compete. This leads to some potentially negative consequences. It reduces the pool of competing teams at a given Regional or District, if some teams are present that decided to submit for Chairman’s Award at another event. It also strongly encourages teams to ‘event shop’, as they are forced to put all their eggs in one basket with regard to this award, and they naturally – if they have the resources and inclination to travel – may give some consideration to attending events at which they believe they have the best chance of winning this most prestigious of all FRC awards. In addition, a one-shot-only approach does not allow teams to iterate and improve upon their Chairman’s Award presentations if they are not selected as winners their first time at bat. This is in contrast to the iteration they can do on their robot from event to event, whether they win on the field or not.
So, for the 2014 season, teams will be eligible to win Chairman’s Award at every event they attend at their initial level of competition – District or Regional - until they win. In other words, team’s don’t have to select a specific event at which to compete, though they can only win once at the District or Regional level. This change does not affect competition at higher levels. Only teams selected at the District or Regional levels will be allowed to compete for Chairman’s Award at higher levels of competition, as usual.
This change does not fully eliminate the potentially negative consequences I list above of the current system. For example, while teams may not be putting all their eggs in one basket with this change, there still is some incentive to travel to an event if a team believes they have a stronger chance of winning Chairman’s Award there. I think this change will reduce the incentive in some situations, but the incentive doesn’t go away.
This change also introduces other challenges. From a team standpoint, at many events, it will increase the competition for Chairman’s Award. As this is our most prestigious award, I think that’s OK. Earning Chairman’s Award should be a very competitive process. Also, this does give teams with the resources to attend multiple events an opportunity they didn’t have before.* On this point, I’ll say my working assumption is that the great majority of FRC teams - whether they have the resources to attend one, two, three, or more events – work extremely hard to be able to attend the events they do, and as a rule of thumb should have an opportunity to compete for all awards available at every event they attend. There are some exceptions to this guideline, and you’ll note that we did put a governor on this award. Trying to avoid the potentially demotivating effect on other teams of powerhouse teams traveling from event to event picking up the top FRC award at each, teams can only win once at the Regional or District level. One additional challenge falls to the judges at events, as they will be doing more interviews, and have more difficulty sorting through candidates, with this change. However, working with the FRC Chief Judge advisors, we think the benefits outweigh the costs.
I believe this change will generate some buzz. I’m looking forward to reading those comments.
I’ll blog again soon.
*In the 2013 season, about 38% of FRC teams participated in more than one event, excluding the FIRST Championship. With the addition of two new Districts in 2014, and assuming the percentage of non-District teams attending multiple events holds steady, that percentage should increase to somewhere in the 48% range. The expansion of the District model is putting us on the path of multi-event teams being the norm, rather than the exception.