FIRST Robotics Competition Blog

Treating Each Other Well At Events

Feb 21, 2024 Written by Collin Fultz, FIRST Robotics Competition Senior Director




Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® are two of the hardest things to define in FIRST®. When I talk to folks who aren’t involved with FIRST, I often get a bit of a “yeah, right” response. It can be hard to believe that teams would share their strategy and design decisions, scouting information, and tools, parts, and expertise while also competing. Then, once you’ve spent a little bit of time around a FIRST team or at an event, one starts expecting to see folks exhibit these core tenets of our program.

The actions don’t have to be big sweeping gestures to be noticeable and impactful. In fact, very often it’s small actions, ones you might not even notice you’re doing, that can exhibit graciousness and help create a sense of belonging on a FIRST team or at a FIRST event. Things like making sure that all teams have an opportunity to contribute to an alliance’s strategy, making space in crowded bleachers for a visitor to sit, and using respectful language with competitors and volunteers are opportunities to treat each other well while also competing.

FIRST had Gracious Professionalism pins made for the 2023 FIRST Championship to help celebrate and recognize acts of Gracious Professionalism. Some regions had implemented similar ideas, and the Hall of Fame teams encouraged FIRST to bring this idea to our largest event.



Volunteers were able to hand out pins to folks who displayed Gracious Professionalism and were asked to submit what act they had seen. I’ve picked out a few of these acts from the event to highlight.

  • Josh (a mentor) and students from both his team (3357, COMETS) and their friends from Average Joes (3620) spent 5 hours during Load-In helping teams unload and move to their pits, while they waited for their own shared trailer to arrive. They helped over 40 teams, while out in the hot sun, over the course of Load-In, and were instrumental in helping the long lines move along.
  • "I don't share your perspective, but I do respect it." This individual has been gracious in every single interaction I've seen, whether with members of their own team, other teams, or any volunteer on or off the field. It's the kind of attitude that makes everything run smoothly. Thank you Shelby!
  • [Joey of Team 254] Helped continuously when our team suffered a catastrophic failure in our robot. He worked tirelessly for 2 hours in order to help us until he knew our robot would be ok. Without him, it would’ve been impossible for us to fix our robot for which we are very thankful.
  • [Katie and Leslie of Team 233] and their team went above and beyond helping the rookie team from Pakistan during their travels in Florida.

I once heard Gracious Professionalism referred to as a compass. The message was that it was an ethos to guide you as you navigate life. As the tension of event season begins, remember to use Gracious Professionalism, Coopertition, and all the FIRST Core Values as that compass.

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