Answered: Unsportsmanlike conduct

To whom it may concern,

This past weekend, during a match in a VEX Gateway event, a robot rammed an opposing robot, pushing it approximately 5 ft, before colliding it with the side of the playing field. During the said event, the robot on the receiving end of this action was disabled due to a broken drive chain. There was no objective other than to drive the opposing robot into the wall.

This event was disturbing to many of the spectators. The judges and event coordinator were approached by several individuals. To our dismay, no violation was cited, nor was a warning issued. It was said that such behavior was sanctioned by the Official VRC Gateway Q&A Forum.

Thinking there must be some mistake, I searched the forum for said ruling. To my dismay, I found the following answered post, dated 11-3-11, titled: Answered: Pushing, Blocking, Chasing. Please see said post for details.

I still believe there may be some misunderstanding of the post. Can you please clarify the post in light of the situation I described above?

I find it difficult to believe that this behavior is in line with the values Vex is trying to impress upon young individuals. Per general game rule <G11>, " All teams are responsible for the actions of their Robots. This goes for teams who are driving recklessly and potentially causing damage, …" It is no surprise that ramming, pushing, and striking a robot against the playing field wall greatly increases the chances for damage.

I understand that there will be defensive play and that competitors will attempt to block opposing teams from scoring objects. And that during said defensive actions, minor contact is inevitable. I did not perceive the contact that occurred to be minor.

It is my opinion that contact should be minimized to avoid robot and field damage. This will in no means reduce the level of play. In fact, it will cause the teams to be more strategic and tactical in order to outthink and outmaneuver their opponents ahead of time.

If teams are informed that intentional contact is to be avoided, I believe all the same match dynamics will occur, but with little or no contact. Blocking can still occur but will mean staying in front of the opposing robot, not allowing it to get to the guarded destination. However, if the opposing robot can outmaneuver the blocking robot, without striking it, then the block has been circumvented. This can most easily be done with the aid of your alliance member, encouraging good communication and teamwork.

It seems unsportsmanlike to ram another robot in order to meet an objective, when the same objective can be accomplished by other means. For example, once a robot has taken up a position (e.g. blocking a goal or attempting to score), an opposing robot should not be encouraged to ram the robot in an attempt to move it from its current position. There are many sports in which blocking, defending, and driving to score are extremely important, yet shoving and pushing are unacceptable and penalized, e.g. soccer and basketball. Blocking can occur with little or no contact. It is just a matter of positioning a robot correctly.

I hope you will take the time to clarify the previous post that I referenced earlier.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

It is difficult for us to issue blanket rulings based on snapshots of matches. However, from what you have described, it seems like this was a case of legal interaction between two robots.

I’ve added a link to the referenced thread below.

All actions described in that thread are legal. Teams should design their robot expecting it to be involved in contact. Ramming and pushing are normal parts of VEX Gateway. Egregious contact solely aimed at the destruction or damage of robots is not allowed. There was nothing egregious described in the referenced thread.