FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (ED&I)

Feb 01, 2022 Written by Frank Merrick, Director FIRST Robotics Competition




FIRST Robotics Competition has recently taken more steps forward in our work prioritizing Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, and I wanted to make you aware of them.

Reasonable Accommodations

For years, FIRST has supported making reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities. Within the rules of the game, we had specific contexts in which the accommodations would be granted. Our intent, though, was to make reasonable accommodations generally at events, not just in certain contexts. So, we recently added a statement in Section 8 of the Game Manual and on our Event Experience webpage supporting this. If you or anyone else at an event needs accommodations, please speak with a volunteer!

Chairman’s Award

The current name of the top award in FIRST Robotics Competition, the Chairman’s Award, is binary. Working closely with our Chief Judge Advisors and the Hall of Fame teams over the summer and with the approval of the Board of Directors, we have developed a new name for this top award, the FIRST Impact Award. We will start to use this name in the 2023 season. This change will be made to the award webpages over the summer, and we will work with our IT team to update the portals as well. Teams who have previously won the Chairman’s Award will still see "Chairman’s Award” associated with their team. In 2023, the name of the award will be changed and will be used for teams who win the award in 2023 and the future.

Please note that this is a name change only. All other aspects of the award, including its centrality to FIRST Robotics Competition, will remain the same.

A big thanks to the Hall of Fame teams and Chief Judge Advisors for helping us work through this change!

Event Music Playlist

FIRST Robotics Competition has an official music playlist along with a ‘do not play’ list for events that is reviewed and updated every season. This past year, we reviewed the playlist with a stronger focus on inclusion. As a result, some songs have been moved from the playlist to the do not play list, including “Cotton Eyed Joe” and “Jump On It.”

You can review our lists and see our music strategy on the FIRST Music DJs page. If you see songs on the playlist you think should not be there, please send an email to and it will be reviewed.

Edit Feb. 1, 2022: 

We are hearing concerns that have rightly been raised by some entries in the column on the Do Not Play list suggesting reasons why individual songs were on that list. Some notes suggested that songs were on the list because they were in a certain language. This is not the case, and we are very sorry about this. Songs were added because of their content, and any reference to language was really just a cursory note.  

I promise you that no song was added to the Do Not Play list because it was in a certain language. We are currently going through that column on the list to ensure all notes accurately reflect the true reasons and to streamline the number of (sometimes very similar) reasons provided.  

We will likely have the updated list published by February 3, and we will alert the community by social media (Facebook, Twitter) when it is ready. 

We should have vetted that column before we published, and we are very sorry again for any concern we caused. 

Not Done Yet

Our work in ED&I is an ongoing effort. The steps above are just that – steps in the right direction, not a conclusion to this work. We will continue our focus on this area and keep you informed of new developments.


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While I certainly can't speak for everyone, I would have to say that I wish that FIRST would consider an alternate name for this, or take no action at all. FIRST Impact Award, frankly, sounds much less prestigious than Chairman's Award, in my honest opinion. If the name has to be changed, you could call it Chairperson's Award or something similar.

There is no need to change the name of the Chairman's award.  Why change history?  If you change it, it will affend other people, it is hard to believe that there are many people are affended by the name.  Why dont you change the dictionary and get rid everything that has the word man in it., where it means all people.



Well, I don't know if I have such privilege to say it, but I also think that there is no need to change the name of awars

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