AIA Recognizes Robotics As A High School Sport

By Andrew Bernier
Published: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 12:36am
Updated: Tuesday, December 2, 2014 - 9:01am

Photo Courtesy of Faridodin Lajvardi - CHHS
Students from Carl Hayden High School work on a robot for competition.
Photo Courtesy of Faridodin Lajvardi - CHHS
Students from Carl Hayden High School work on a robot for competition.
Photo Courtesy of Faridodin Lajvardi - CHHS
Students from Carl Hayden High School work on a robot for competition.

A popular after-school activity is now being recognized as a sport in Arizona. While students may not break a sweat, state and national competitions can be fierce, if there is money to support it. 

The Arizona Interscholastic Association, has made Arizona the second state to recognize robotics as an official high school sport, second only to Minnesota. So, what does this now mean for the thousands of Arizona students in robotics clubs?

“You’ll be able to get a letter, like you do in sports, you’ll be able to get a letter for doing robotics,” said Faridodin Lajvardi, the Robotics Team Lead Mentor for Carl Hayden High School.

“We’ve always had to be kinda operating underneath the radar" Lajvardi said. "Now we don’t have to operate underneath the radar. It’s officially sanctioned. So, it raises the profile up more so maybe kids that might want to do sports or do sports and robotics now might pay a little more attention to robotics because they’re going to get the same kind of attention that they would in the sporting program.”         

Much like other sports, life skills like teamwork and collaboration are present, but activities like robotics offer other tangible skills.

“But also there’s the hard skills of computer programming that is fast becoming recognized as an essential skill," said Dr. John Kriekard of the Science Foundation Arizona, who worked with the AIA to make the recognition take place.

However, in keeping with robotics competition traditions, admission won’t charged for attending state championships, for at least the first few years. This leaves AIA to solicit sponsorships to support new teams and championships.

“To find sponsors for the state tournament, the AIA has put in the amount of money from donations to the startup of new clubs" Kriekard said. "There is a start-up cost because of the first robot and the transportation and entrance fees, tournaments and so forth. That’s been somewhat prohibitive to some schools.”

It is unknown how they will determine who makes varsity and JV.

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