State/regional Competitions should go virtual

So the South Florida regionals are set to be held in person, yet Miami-Dade County public schools still aren’t allowed to give out field trip forms for any in-person activities besides sports. As far as I know, this means that the only teams that will be able to compete are private schools and independent teams that aren’t part of school clubs. This seems really unfair, seeing as this competition provides some of the main pathways to Worlds. I imagine people in other states probably have a similar issue and I think the obvious solution would be to change it to a live-remote competition like they did with Worlds (at least in regions where not all school districts have fully opened).

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I totally agree with you. I think this whole season has created a gap between the haves (private teams) and the have-nots (school teams unable to meet). I think extending the season and having in-person tournaments benefits the haves while delaying the next season for the have nots.

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This might be necessary in Florida, but not in other states. In Kansas, we haven’t had a single remote tournament. We have had 3 in person tournaments with 1 more planned before in person states.

I feel like the main reason for having in-person competitions is because they can be done. Change Up was designed to be played in-person, amd this can be seen in the growing pains with LRT. At least for both FL regions, most of the events have been in-person, with a few Remote Skills tournaments sprinkled about. As for the Miami-Dade “field-trips” restrictions, you should remember 2 things:

  1. South FL isn’t just Miami-Dade county; there are teams in Martin and Collier County. South FL States isn’t just going to go online just because some teams cannot compete (some < all). Also, you could potentially argue that VRC is a sport (because it meets the definition of a sport).
  2. States for you guys isn’t until April 18th (so like in less than 2 months), so there is time for Miami-Dade County to (hopefully) wave these restrictions.
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I would much rather have it as an in-person competition, but we tried this and no luck.
And actually there have only been 5 competitions in South Florida this season, and only 2 were in-person. Plus almost all of the competitions currently scheduled between now and April 18th are remote skills comps. Also, I get that other counties are allowing field trips but still, if the biggest school system in the region (with almost as many students as all the others combined) can’t compete then they’re basically discarding the efforts of dozens of teams.

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I agree, in-person comps are more fun and if they’re allowed for the entire state then great, go for it

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It needs to be done on a per-region basis. Some regions are safer to host in-person than others, and with the design of VRC Change Up, I think we can all agree that in-person is better than LRT.

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@NJimmy - welcome! I’m working on setting up the Delmarva Championship and I’m leaning towards having in person. The issue I face is an organization that has multiple teams. Lets say that your organization has 4 robotics teams. For an LRT they would need to have 4 fields in the event they are all in a single match. Lots of places don’t have that many fields around or the game elements to fill the fields.

Build your own fields (BYOF) works, but the game elements and floor tiles will still put the full package over $1000 per team. For places that struggle, that’s a lot.

The alternative is when one or more of the teams are in the same match that only one of the teams plays. (choose by rock/paper/scissors/lizard/Spock?) But that puts the alliance partner at a disadvantage with a no-show robot.

I’d be interested in what the solution to that problem could be.

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Apparently the REC foundation is advocating for in-person state competitions. Washington State is also scheduled to be in-person.

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No.

Speaking as someone from South Florida (Broward), if you haven’t been able to compete all season, that sucks, but why should you take away other people’s ability to attend a Safe, In-Person championship. Since regionals are over a month away, (Assuming you have a robot) I would spend this time trying to sort out plans to go independently since you can only bring 3 people and a coach as a team. Additionally, Collier, Martin, Palm Beach, and Lee all still have teams that can compete.

If you also care about going to worlds, get your skills score high enough on the state leaderboard in the numerous Pre-Recorded skills tournaments you just mentioned, because there’s a 99.9% chance that there will be double qualifications.

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There have been a number of in-person events in Michigan, and the Michigan Middle School and High School State Championship will be in-person, too (at two different venues). These in-person events have limited/no spectators and are live-streamed.

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I may be speaking out of context here but if the event you are attending is not on a school day (which I assume Florida states is not) then I don’t see how a field trip pass is necessary. Field trip passes imply that you will be missing school, so any event on a Saturday or Sunday shouldn’t require one. The only loophole I see is if there’s no one willing to pay the registration fee because of current restrictions and whatnot, but other than that schools can’t legally punish you for attending events that don’t occur during school hours.

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The team is registered with the school so, even though it is funded by a nonprofit that pays for the registration, it is considered an extracurricular school activity and requires a field trip form regardless of the weekday (at least in Miami Dade)

I actually agree, BYOF is too expensive for most schools, but either way this will likely also be a problem at worlds so to me it seems like a major oversight from RECF. Unless they make changes to the LRT format, I don’t think it will be resolved. If you think an in-person comp would allow more teams to attend than LRT then I think you’re right, in-person is better.

This is why WV states will be remote skills-only - no possibility of an in-person event due to various restrictions, too many multi-team organizations for LRT, and not enough active teams to hold multiple events and give teams a choice between LRT and skills-only.

Skills-only isn’t a perfect solution to this problem but on balance I do think it’s the best one available.

Yes, but only if your organization sends lots of teams to Worlds. Remember there are a lot more teams that don’t go, so you can get creative and borrow their fields for the 4 days.

Yep, it’s hard this year with all that. Depending on the teams that win here I may need to run 2 LRT scrimmages to get the required time in for the Worlds teams, so there is that too.

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This is correct. Grandville has been hosting several increasingly larger tournaments in MI with little to no risk. They are going above and beyond: Limiting teams to 3 members and one coach, not allowing coaches in the pits and being strict about physical distancing, multiple divisions, and sanitization everywhere. OP’s point is certainly not true everywhere.

Putting aside the issue of equity between states, many schools in Michigan are open and we have proven that we can have in-person vex tournaments safely with previous 48 team events.

It’s also worth noting that the infrastructure for LRT’s isn’t worth it for some teams in areas where in-person tournaments are safe. My organization is considering just not doing any LRT or LRS events due to the up-front cost of equipment, etc.

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I think they should be in person events to prevent cheating considering these are very high level and extremely important competitions.

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Your teacher could just send the bot home with you and just have your parents take you to the competition as an independent team… That is if you are building in school at all.

And your state EP could do both. North Florida is doing both. Live and virtual and you get to pick. The EPs that are putting that together are my heroes.

Sankey

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Northern California has gone virtual with their state championship; what I like about their system in particular is that they offer both a Live Remote Tournament and Live Remote Skills version of the state championship, allowing teams to have a preference based on their specialization, especially since LRT’s are so tempermental. This is something I haven’t exactly noticed being done in other regions; it seems like most regions only offer one type of tournament, whether it be LRT, LRS, or in-person. While it does require a lot of resources to run multiple states tournaments, they could be done on separate days to make it so there are less personnel necessary to run the two tournaments, since you could just reuse your personnel for both days. Of course, it depends on the region, because the amount of spots for each region may make it so that only one tournament is necessary if that amount is small. But, I definitely agree that regional championships should probably become virtual if there are complications with in-person events. If there are any event partners who are reading this thread and are considering going virtual, consider running both an LRT and LRS if you have the resources to do so. Being able to decide between LRT and LRS is extremely helpful, more than you might think.

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