Pop! A MentorBuilt News special report

With tonight's special announcement by Director of FRC Frank Merrick, it has been confirmed: the bag is popped. Merrick stated "Stop Build Day will be retired in 2020." This story was first broken by MentorBuilt earlier this month. The reaction to the news has been mixed: some are all in favor and others are aghast.

One team in a suburb of Denver, Colorado, celebrated with pinatas, pizza, and -of course- pop!corn. Their mentor, Dave Blarington, told us, "We'll save so much time in 2020! We couldn't afford a full practice bot so to improve between events we would take off what we could fit inside the 30 pound withholding allowance and put it back on at the next event." Junior student Liz added, "We never made it to practice matches because we had to reattach the arm or the claw or like, the drive-train." The team is hopeful that this change means more practice matches and a better robot.

Others are not seeing it so rosy - "We had cleared out a whole space for it," one mentor from Virginia told us, "We were so excited - we planned where everything would go when the clock struck midnight. But now that opportunity has been ripped away from us!" Some mourners have put up a memorial in the corner of their shop above the garbage can with stuffed animals, flowers, and signs that said RIP. Students sat in a circle and talked about their feelings, "It's just, I only knew this way of life, you know? Like, now everything will be so different. I guess we'll have to ask our local FTC and FLL teams how they handle it."

Opportunists are looking for alternative uses for the giant bags, with some teams thinking of building experimental sailboats while others plan to use the serialized zip ties to mark food in the team refrigerator. "We plan on using the bag for recycling Mountain Dew cans," explains 15 year-old Kyle from New York, "We drink a lot of that stuff."

"We'll have to see how it plays out," A long time mentor from Illinois, Sam Burk, said, "You know, this could be good - we'd save a lot on our VEXPro orders. But, well, this might lead to burnout..." Burk gazes out the window, "We have a hard time keeping mentors around, especially the young ones. They're starting families, they can't spend that much time here."

Reaction from the community has been mostly positive. We were able to reach Marshall Massengill, a mentor in Durham, North Carolina, and he said "Honestly, I'm not even mad about this. It's a good change."  Others on ChiefDelphi have said "Marshall will find something to replace the bag anger."

A viewer of the live Twitch stream asked "Where is the video of Marshall shredding a bag?" to which Merrick responded, "Who's Marshall? Marshall from... what... is he like a mentor or something?"

Economists argue the value of the bag. On one hand, it reduces the financial burden of potential success. Gone will be the days of teams needing two or more robots to iterate through the season. On the other hand, teams who are struggling may fall further behind if they fail to set boundaries and burn out their members. Some point to a future where events won't need a practice day. "What do you need that day for now?" notes Harvard economist Florence Madera, "Teams just need to get inspected and connected to the field which districts have proven is doable in half a day." The decrease in paid leave days required to attend events, she argues, will increase the retention of mentors.

Lead Robot Inspectors across the sport are divided on the topic. Some wonder how they'll fill the first hour of an event without the added task of supervising zip tie removal and scrutinizing forms; others relish the opportunity to help that one rookie team with the non-minor frame perimeter protrusion.

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for The Plastic Bag Industry Trade Association remarked, "We're not entirely sure how this will affect our bottom line, but we're hopeful. We're thinking that the garbage industry will really grow, with teams throwing out bad ideas and iterating more."

While some aspects about how the future will unfold are unclear, one thing is: The bag. And it's gone.

- MB News

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