Keeping the U.S. Competitive on a Global Scale

Why we should favor robotics over football in high school

We live in a modern age. We have many machines and technologies that help us survive and thrive in our current environment. We as people rely on many of the machines that we take for granted to do very remedial tasks and mundane jobs. And yet we as a country are still one of the most competitive in the world. The reason that we can stay at the top with a smaller labor force is due to our tremendous reliance on automation

we now make 85 percent more goods than we did in 1987, but with only two-thirds the number of workers.

With a drastic decline in the amount of people needed to work in manufacturing directly, we have an increase in automated and robotic machinery throughout the manufacturing process. This means that people who are able to work with, troubleshoot, and even create these innovations of the twenty first century, are becoming more valuable than ever. So we will require more and more of those brilliant minds to work with as time moves forward. And a very effective place to influence and enlighten those pupils to the world of engineering, computer science, and robotics, is in high school. This proves to be a very effective method due to the adolescents developing mind and most likely, their lack of direction and drive towards their ultimate goal in life. Partially because most don’t have that stuff figured out, and even those that do have a vague idea of where they want to be when they are adults, are possibly not very invested in it, and can easily be persuaded to change their mind when proposed with an opportunity to do something that they could potentially fall in love with.

In fact, a high school athlete is about three times more likely to get hurt than competitors in other major sports.

Many of our current day high schools are primarily focused around athletics, most likely football. And many do not realize the incredible amount of risk and effort that it takes in order to just make it to college football, let alone in a professional capacity. With many sports there is risk of injury, but once again our greatest offender is football.

During the past decade, there has been an average of about 4 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures in competition for all nine sports combined.
For high school football players, the rate (of injury) during competition has ranged from 11.26 to 13.52 injuries per 1,000 athlete exposures.

These two statistics compared to each other show just how large of a risk it is to play football as a high school athlete. Other high school sports also have injuries, but not nearly as often, or as severe. And football at high schools takes an exorbitant amount of money to acquire all of the equipment and staff, money which could be spent on educational materials for the betterment of our students minds as a country. Or just a fraction of it could be used to fully fund a robotics team under the First Robotics Competition name.

First Robotics Logo

First robotics is a nonprofit organization that specializes in the teaching and inspiration of science and technology for our youth, after all, their name is an acronym of “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.” The FIRST organization is an inspiration to many because of their extreme, international reach, and for their commitment to the improvement of their students lives through experience and learning in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) environment. Many of their alumni are introduced to colleges, universities, and even major STEM corporations that are looking for an experienced and brilliant young crowd to carry the torch through their organization, and to lead the push to new technology and innovation.

The first robotics competition gives so much invaluable experience for younger population. The program is not just for those who are interested in mechanical engineering, but also for those interested in business management and outreach, and those interested in computer science. The program teaches those involved in it how to communicate effectively and work as a team. The season is comprised of six weeks only to fully design and manufacture your robot to compete in the competitions. This puts a very limited time constraint on all three divisions of the team. The build must work effectively as a group to progress through the engineering design process, and to completely fabricate the physical robot, while the programming team has the pressure to totally program both the autonomous code for the robot, and the directly controlled motion of the robot, and lastly the business team has the burden of wholly financing the actions of the team throughout both the season and off-season. These conditions that the students are put through allows them to develop in to effective and brilliant minds with both the knowledge and experience to work productively through their careers, whether in STEM or not.

These experiences for our youth are more important than spending a unnecessary amount of money on a violent and less educational activity for our young that only serves as a gateway for a small percentage of the players to make it to higher levels of the sport, while FRC (First robotics competition) serves to enlighten and teach those same teens to work more effectively as a team. It shows them how to productively design and operate together, and how to accept one another’s opinions and views of the problem. It teaches them to be effective in everything that they do, and be concise with every thought because they will not always have the time to fully explain. It helps them to cope with and thrive under time constraints and stressful conditions. These are invaluable skills that greatly outweigh those provided through high school football.

The reason that the FIRST organization is so important for our children and adolescents, is because they create the kind of people that we need. As further development in robotics, and further innovation in automation is produced, we must have people who are ready to lead and to understand how it works, and more importantly, how we make it better. For our country to improve as a whole, and to stay at the forefront of the global economy, we must have those brilliant young minds, like those that have paved the way in the past, to lead us into the future. We need new minds, and we need them now. So our only way to get there, is through encouraging experience throughout their youth. For us to continue to grow and prosper as a nation, we must have those brilliant minds that have brought us to the greatness that we are at today.

Works Cited

“FIRST Robotics Competition | FIRST.” FIRST Robotics Competition | FIRST. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.

“Manufacturing Sector: Real Output.” Manufacturing Sector: Real Output | FRED | St. Louis Fed. N.p., 02 Feb. 2017. Web. 03 Feb. 2017.

Written by David Mills | Published on September 23, 2016. “What’s the Likelihood a High School Football Player Will Get Injured?” Healthline. N.p., 23 Sept. 2016. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.