Excluding yourself from an award

One of our teams is considered our “elite” team, and is quite strong and has already qualified for the Regional/State championship in March, along with other awards. However, they would like to continue to go to qualification tournaments and have a shot at earning non-Excellence awards, improving Skills, and having fun with the other “sister” teams in my group. Importantly, they want to help give their sister teams a shot at earning the top award too. The sister teams are fairly strong, and have strong notebooks, but not as strong as the “elite” team. Realistically, they may never win Excellence at an event where the “elite” team is present.

They earned multiple Excellence Awards last season, and the consequence is that “sister” teams were denied the same award, and had to qualify for States via Skills rankings. Moreover, they don’t feel a need to keep collecting Excellence awards.

I am interested in advice on how they should proceed. Ideas we’re considering:

  1. Include a letter in the beginning of the notebook requesting to be excluded from consideration for the Excellence Award. But as far as I know, judges have no obligation to honor such a request.

  2. Do not submit a notebook or interview. But then they are not considered for Design or other judged awards, which missed the point - they’d still like to earn something at these events.

  3. Only go to tournaments NOT attended by their sibling teams. This is suboptimal as it defeat the purpose of all sibling teams going to have fun with each other.

  4. Just keep going to qualification tournaments and play hard and rack up Excellence Awards, as some teams do. The net result, in my opinion, is not healthy for the State Championship: it leads to more disappointed teams during qualifications, and States becomes filled with only high Performance teams (off the World Skills list), vs. teams with a good balance between Performance and Judged “scores”.

Are we crazy or obnoxious to even worry about this?

One strategy would be to get better.

What makes the team “elite?” Can you learn from them and improve your bot to try and beat them? Or can you come up with a strategy to counter what they do well and beat them that way? Good teams that beat you are the best motivator to improve. And they often give you the best examples and ideas about HOW to improve. They shouldn’t be handicapped so others can win. All that does is make everyone else complacent and entitled. Get to state via skills, or other qualifying judges awards, and get better each step along the way. Anything can happen in a match.


I agree with the sentiment of your reply. Thank you.

Yes, teams B and C would like to win on their own merits, without any sacrifices from team A. The question is just whether anyone has ever done something like this: decline to be considered for a particular award, so that another deserving team may claim that spot at States.

Team A had a discussion about this and believes that it’s better for the State Championship to be filled as much as possible by Excellence winners, so that the roster represents highly judged teams, not just best technical performance. Our region already has more State spots than Qualification tournaments; so having a single team earn multiple Excellence spots tilts an already performance-leaning event even further that way.

Probably best and certainly easiest, as you suggest, to just have all teams go and do their best.

Tangentially and not actually relevant to my question I now realize, it’s probably best not to go down the rabbit hole of what an “elite” team is - there be dragons that way. The short answer is that Team A has committed a lot more resources in both time and money, and has members selected for their demonstrated focus, dedication, talents and commitment.

Well, we’ll continue to mull on this internally. It’s not yet an issue for us because the other teams have not demonstrated top 30% performance quite yet. Season is still young!

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Winning shouldn’t be the focus but as with all things competitive that’s where we end up. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a give everybody a trophy kind of person. But far to often we forget why this competition claims to exist.

Sounds like you created this problem for your self or your organization did. Instead of creating balanced teams you created an “elite” team. You wanted a team that had the best chance of winning everything and now they are. You could have instead created teams that could learn the most and benefit the most from this experience. Creating balanced teams will create better teams, more learning opportunity, and better experience for all your teams for years to come.

Team A saying give excellence to second place diminishes the accomplishment of the team that it is given to. If I was a judge I would immediately dismiss a notebook for all awards with a request to not win a specific award yet still be considered for other awards just so that they can collect all the awards. If this team is doing this altruistically and doesn’t want to take excellence then simply don’t submit a notebook.


Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective. I’ve taken your comments to heart, particularly around withdrawing the notebook entirely, which given the negative reaction I’m sensing, seems the best course of action.

By way of explanation, the region we are in has the world’s top skills ranked teams participating in every one of our tournaments this season and last. It can be disheartening to have these teams show up at the very beginning of the season driving amazing robots that look and behave remarkably similar to the top performing China robots (China has an earlier season). Let’s not start a whole separate discussion on that topic. No knock on those teams: we alliance with them all the time, and they work remarkably hard and smart. You might even say, elite. Our kids wanted to be as competitive as possible within the spirit of G2, and we’re barely able to keep up, and one way to do that is to compose teams carefully and work just as hard, which requires a full team dedicated to the task. We see this kind of selection in all competitive activites: Olympics, pro sports, chess teams, etc. It’s not unusual, right?

I agree with the spirit of what you say: optimize for learning, not trophies. But by optimizing for competitiveness, does that mean we’re not learning? Or learning as much? I would argue that our teams (A and B + C) have learned a ton this season - and the season is still young.

One other thing I’d point out, in our defense. It’s not about trophies. No one is saying, “Let’s collect the whole set!” LOL. It’s about the spots at States and having a shot there - hence the focus on Qualifications Excellence. We’re not even talking about Worlds. The region is very competitive, and getting a spot at States is going to be tough without extraordinary measures.

Again, thank you for engaging in this thread; this is the kind of perspective I was hoping to learn!

Best wishes, and Happy Thanksgiving (if you’re in the U.S.).


I’m sorry that I was overly harsh. I see a lot of teams that put the competition ahead of the learning. A nuanced conversation is hard to have over the internet. The intentions of this team seem to be good. The idea that they want more teams that have put effort into every part of the competition to be rewarded and recognized is a noble one.

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Talk to your EP ahead of time and your state robotics coordinator.

You could have the team refrain from posting an Autonomous Coding Skills score at an event. That disqualifies a team from Excellence consideration.


Thanks for the ideas everyone, really appreciate it. We didn’t consider skipping a Skills originally because one goal of the team is to improve on World Skills ranking. However, I think now that’s a better option than not submitting a notebook. The notebook option is irrevocable once the submission deadline passes. But the Skills skipping decision can be made while things unfold during an event depending on how the various teams are performing. Skipping opportunities to improve on World Skills ranking isn’t really a big deal for a team already attending many of the tournaments in the region. Thanks again all.

What I would do is send them to different comps or different regions. This is something I do myself. I love competing and I’ve already earned my states spot but I still want to go to as many competition as possible to constantly improve my world skills rankings and gather more trophy’s and experience. So something that we have done is go to comps in other regions. since we are located in Louisville e have travel to Ohio and to Indiana to compete so we don’t steal spots from local teams and since we are in the other states any award that we win that would have qualified us to states is redistributed to local teams through the skills rankings at that tournament. it also allows us to be exposed to a more diverse set of robots and see new and innovative designs from other regions as well as see how the meta is evolving in other places. It also allows us to compete with some of the most elite teams in the world. For example we had a competition in Indiana were both Gears (323v) and Robokauze (21417a) were at allowing us to see how we match up against the worlds excellence winners and Indiana state and multiple sig champions. the onlu downside to this is taht you have to drive more and you dont get as much expirince with your local competitors.