FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

FIRST Championship and Religious Holidays

Nov 01, 2018 Written by Frank Merrick.



FIRST Championship Houston this year occurs on dates that coincide with some religious holidays. This can make the Houston event inconvenient or worse for teams, volunteers, and sponsors. We talked briefly about these challenges in this blog in June.


FIRST Championship dates are as they are because of the constraints we have on both sides of the calendar. With the growing number of qualifying events in the program, we need time to host those events before FIRST Championship while still giving teams time to travel. On the other end of the calendar, if we tried to push FIRST Championship into May, we would experience challenges with the testing that occurs in many school districts during that month. So, we need to make the best of the situation as it is.


In the blog I reference above, you will note that teams from Israel are being temporarily assigned to FIRST Championship Detroit for the 2019 season only, and that all teams in the country are being reassigned, even if some would prefer FIRST Championship Houston. You will also see that we are making this accommodation not because of the religious holiday itself, but because of the practical consequences of the holiday – cost and difficulty of travel.


We recognize other FIRST Robotics Competition teams may have extraordinary challenges with attending FIRST Championship Houston because of the consequences of religious holidays occurring at the same time. Teams may request reassignment to FIRST Championship Detroit in 2019 by sending an email stating your case to Because of the limited available slots we predict at FIRST Championship Detroit, and, out of fairness, our very strong preference that teams attend the event to which they’ve been assigned geographically, few requests will be granted. Teams requesting reassignment must make an extraordinarily compelling case. Your case can be strengthened greatly by providing documentation from your host organization (your school, for example) indicating the entire team will not be allowed to travel to FIRST Championship Houston because of the dates on which it falls.


The deadline for submitting requests is January 24, 2019, at 5 PM Eastern Time. If your team thinks there is a chance you will be attending FIRST Championship and attending FIRST Championship Houston will be an extraordinary challenge because of the consequence of those religious holidays, your team should submit a request.


If you have questions about this, please put them in the comments section below.



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Will any space be made available at Houston championships for regilious services or prayer?

Typically, requests for this come from community groups, such as FIRST Israel. If you are trying to organize some activity like this and want to request a room, please send an email to, and we'll point you in the right direction. We may not be able to accommodate all requests.

Could a team from Israel that is currently assigned to Detroit request to move to Houston? How would this affect the amount of slots Israel gets?

Hi Ra'anan. Sorry, we are not allowing requests to move in the other direction for teams from Israel. Our arrangement with Israel Management was that this would be an 'all or nothing' move for this year to keep things manageable and fair.

In 2008 FIRST organized a "Mini-Sedar" for the first night of Passover at Championship. It was awesome. Will you please do this again?

Hello Robin-Ann. I believe any special religious celebrations that have been held at FIRST Championship have been organized by community groups, such as FIRST Israel, rather than by FIRST Headquarters. FIRST Headquarters may have provided access to space for the event, but we didn't actively plan it. You may want to reach out to FIRST Israel to see if they are planning something like this again. I don't know if they currently have something planned. 

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