Appropriate Behaviour at VEX Events?

Today three of our teams went to the Central Ontario Vex Robotics Qualifying Event. In QF3-1 we had two teams 1104S and 1104X on the red alliance.

During QF3-1 there was some trapping from both alliances, our alliance attempted to draw the head referees attention to what they believed was trapping. We are not here to discuss any rulings though. What mainly concerns us is the behavior of one of the Event Partners. In the video we have linked, you can see the red alliance trying to get the attention of the head referee over the ambient noise by yelling “HEY!” (this happens at 2:16). This is then escalated by the event partner barging in during the driver control portion of the match and yelling “Tone it down now! Do not yell at the refs like that! Do not yell at the ref like that ever!” directly at the same team member that initially yelled “HEY!” (this happens at 2:18).

In addition, the person that yelled “HEY!” was told by the referee to “yell at him in order to grab his attention” if there was anything deserving of his attention during the match rather than after (this was communicated earlier).

After this match a few of the parents of the drivers tried talking with the Ontario Representative about what just happened, The Ontario Representative did not want to talk about and was actively walking away from the conversation. One parent had a phone with the match video and asked the Ontario Representative to look at the video to show him the yelling that occurred. The Ontario Representative replied that they do not look at videos as it is against the rules. This made one of the parents ask him if it were appropriate for an Event Partner to scream at 15-year-old kids in the middle of a match, the Ontario Representative replied with “Yes since he is an event organizer, he can protect his people”. The Ontario Representative then proceeded to say “I don’t want to deal with this” and walked away from the conversation.

From the 2:00 mark you can see the Ontario Representative standing right next to the event partner. As soon as our leadership heard about this incident we immediately contacted the Ontario Representative to hear his side of the story. The Ontario Representative stated his opinion and actively defended that it was an appropriate action in these circumstances.

How can teams be expected to adhere to the code of conduct and G1, if event organizers and regional representatives aren’t held to the same standard? Our teams have been long-time participants in the VEX programs and we truly believe in the mission of the RECF. It’s heartbreaking for us to see adults run afoul of the rules without any sort of repercussions.

We do not care about the outcome of the event, we care about the unprofessional behavior that we have encountered. We understand that these events are stressful to run, but event partners should have no right to ever yell, demean, or abuse any student in a way that is seen in these videos.

We also have 2 other nearly identical videos from slightly different perspectives which can be seen here:

We also have a statement directly from the team member who yelled “HEY!”:

“It was my intention for yelling “hey” at the 2:16 mark as an act of raising my voice to grab the attention of the referee. I meant no means of threatening or present a disrespectful manner towards him. In the G1 rule, it states that “if the team or any of its members are disrespectful or uncivil to event staff, etc…” we could be disqualified which I understand. However, under my impression of this incident the guy yelling was more at fault for being uncivil to EVENT PARTICIPANTS as he was setting a poor example for others. As stated in the G1 rule, we should learn to “handle these situations in a positive and productive manner” me yelling is acting productively as the referee informed us previously that if anything were to be illegal we should yell at him IN ORDER TO GET HIS ATTENTION as the event is very loud and he is unable to hear us.” - Kevin

These are just the facts and the backstory, We strongly believe that this should be escalated and nobody should have to go through this.

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For a guy that big to be that aggressive is unacceptable. Forget words, he looked like he was about to knock someone out. I have no idea if what he did was legal or if the RECF cares enough to take any sort of action, but in life in general that’s just bad behavior. If an event partner did that to me and I wasn’t in a position to win the tournament, I’d take my robot mid match and dip.

A lot of similar situations with pinning etc. have cropped up (including on stream at worlds) and sometimes the competitors have to speak loudly to get the ref’s attention. That seems totally appropriate. Kevin’s tone was maybe panicky, but not disrespectful in any way and he certainly wasn’t angry at the ref. The EP on the other hand…

And on top of all of that, the EP was yelling at a student… about yelling. That’s some Joe Budden level thinking.

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While I’m not a fan of calling people out specifically, the video was very good evidence of what not to do as an EP. If the ref specifically requests attention grabbing statements, no student should be punished for doing so. I am just disappointed. Let alone the cited neglect of the RSM.

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I agree, and I think there are two problems. First, refs (in my experience; this may not be true for everywhere) don’t really call trapping, and it goes on for way more than 5 seconds. It should be counted every single time it happens (refs often don’t start counting until it’s egregious), and counting should begin right from the start of the trap.

Second, as is brought up in this thread, students are supposed to learn how to behave from adults. The EP’s behavior was totally unacceptable in my opinion, as you do not fight fire with fire. There were many options which the EP could have exercised, and I believe that he chose poorly in this case.

I agree with the general sentiment in this thread, and I want to bring up one more point. According to <G1>, “If a Team or any of its members (Students or any adults associated with the Team) are disrespectful or uncivil to event staff, volunteers, or fellow competitors, they may be Disqualified from a current or upcoming Match.” As per the referee training videos, “DQ’s are ONLY issued AFTER a match has ended - it should NEVER be issued during a match” (emphasis present in original). Also, from a different video, “The head referee should be the only person discussing rulings with the teams.” If the event partner believed the drive team to be in violation in <G1>, he should have referred the matter to the head referee, who should then make the final call and inform the team; all of this should happen after the match, so as to not interfere with the match result.

This is of course in addition to the points raised in the original post and by other replies.

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Adult perspective here. I think the EP was using his “teacher vouce” to make a point. I think he was well within his right to do so (yes, teachers and parents sometimes have to yell). Plus, with only a two minute video, I have no idea what happened prior in the tournament. Was your team doing this repeatedly, were there other behaviors that might be deemed unacceptable throughout the tournament? What are you hoping to get by posting this video? An apology? Get the EP reprimanded? Just make the EP look bad? Or are you just trying to get a dialog started? My opinion, you shouldn’t yell at a ref in the middle of a match and should not address an adult by saying “HEY!”

On the pushing, shoving, and pinning - it looked like child’s play compared to our tournament in Virginia yesterday and no one needed to yell at the refs!

Not enough context other than big guy using outside voice protecting his referees. In a soccer match, we would let it go, and instead have a discussion with the team’s adult coach. Usually, the coaches will get it and set their team straight about better means of addressing the ref in the future. Was it the right move by the EP? not sure, move on.

As to posting on this forum - not a great reflection on the poster. The proper would have been an email to the RECF RSM. Suggest better means for addressing such situations of getting referees attention - HEY does not really tell me anything - moreover, the referee had a great view and decided it was ok play and did count off, albeit a little two quickly, and maybe have restarted the count from where he left off as the robots did not appear to pull two tiles away after the count. All perception.

As for the robot to robot interaction, it was relatively mild compare to the matches we saw yesterday between middle and high school teams. You are going to see much hard play at state/regional/national/worlds.

Good points. But with a 2 minute match, a team should be driving and the refs should be reffing. There aren’t many scenarios I can envision where a team needs to address a ref during a match. The refs know where they need to be looking. By calling a ref (HEY HEY HEY!), a team could pull the ref’s attention away from where it needs to be. Teams don’t need to tell the refs how to do their jobs during a match. Kind of poor sportsmanship in my opinion. And that’s not even touching on the subject of “why post this here?”

Not saying that the team’s conduct was 100% - the referee would address that at end of the match with the team.

I do believe the RECF needs a head referee certification program - not just the “watch these videos” but rigorously test knowledge of the game and team management. Then let the certified head referee train the assistant scoring referees. There are plenty of youth sports model for this and as the game is growing, consistency is needed. We see this in our region, and roll with it.

Agree. I would not be surprised to see it coming soon. Perhaps the ref videos and knowledge check are a first step.

As a head ref from the local area, I want to say I am absolutely disgusted and disappointed by the behaviour displayed in this video. No student should ever be verbally abused like this. There is no context that would deem this action appropriate. I have been part of the VEX Robotics program since 2011 and have never seen such foul behaviour. Hearing the EP scream from the video was loud enough, I can only imagine how traumatizing it would be to have him scream in your face like that as a student. There is absolutely no reason the EP should be doing such an action towards the students. There is absolutely no reason anyone at a VEX event should be doing such an action towards anyone.

Everything I’ve ever learned as a volunteer/EP/etc. is about create a positive experience for the students. I’m not saying that people should not be able to use their authority, but rather use the authority in a positive and constructive manner.

Speaking from personal experience, I have seen the 1104 organization grow from nothing to what they are today and have nothing but positive things to say about them regarding their gracious professionalism and maturity. Members from 1104 have always been respectful to volunteers and EPs. Simply yelling “hey” is a normal thing to witness as a referee in a vex robotics match, especially considering that this is what the referee asked the team to do so. This is nothing out of the normal. I have been the head referee at events where worse things have been said to me and both the EP and Ontario representative in the video were present and said nothing. It is disheartening to see this come from my local area, as I know most of the VEX community from here always displays incredible gracious professionalism.

I’m not one to publicly get involved in incidents like this, but I refuse to see students being treated like this and not say anything about it. I am not going to comment on the trapping/not-trapping that happened in the match, nor will I comment on the calls the referee made as it is not relevant to the problem here. For a second I’m also going to ignore the fact that the EP shouldn’t even be talking to the teams (the ref should be doing this) about <G1>, let alone in the middle of the match. No one should be treated this way at a VEX event. This is unacceptable and childish behaviour displayed by the EP. Absolute lack of maturity and class.

This is why this should be handled at the local level instead of dragging someone through the mud on a public forum. I have never witnessed anyone addressing a ref (edited from judge for clarity) in my area by saying “HEY!” Clearly, this is something unique to your area.

Clearly handling it at the local level didn’t work. Read what happened when they contacted the Ontario representative. Situations like this should be public to raise the importance of proper behaviour, respect, and gracious professionalism.

We are talking about referees here, not judges. Student interactions tend to be very different between the two positions. Also, it is not unique to my area as I have had this happen to me at several World Championship events.

If you call that a “teacher’s voice” I’m sorry for what you had to go through to get an education. At least in California, there aren’t many teachers that unpleasant.

And what do you mean by “doing this repeatedly”? Getting the ref’s attention when illegal action was happening? That’s called playing Turning Point. Presumably the ex world champions were playing Turning Point repeatedly at a competition.

If I were an EP, I’d look at this as an example of poor behavior by a fellow EP and make a promise to myself never to treat anyone at a competition like this. It’s disappointing to see you’re not willing to do the same.

And if more than 5 second pins are considered “child’s play” in your region, maybe it’s time you hired some referees who were actually deserving of the reverence you’re so proud VA gives them.

This isn’t soccer. Soccer elims use bo1. How’s that working out for VEX?

About posting it here:

Nobody disputes that the pinning was mild, the question is whether it was pinning. Since it clearly was, the referee should have been calling the pinning. And since he wasn’t and since he had explicitly asked the teams to get his attention by raising their voices, Kevin said “hey.” You can see how hard the ref was working to correctly call pinning, but obviously there was a lot of interaction and it can be hard to know where to look. It didn’t look like the ref or the students did anything out of the ordinary. The EP on the other hand… Imagine if the students had spoken to the EP like that instead of the other way around.

Everyone was clearly shook after that happened. The commentator stopped talking, the other team was clearly a bit worried too, and even if you zoom in on the referees face when it happened, he looks stunned.

Well said @Anomaly

And maybe you shouldn’t be so rude on the internet and have a holier than thou attitude.

this is pretty bad behavior. I know that If I was yelled at like that during a match, I’d probably leave the event. or at least have some pretty serious complaints. of course, all EP’s around here address all the competitors with respect. although, this could’ve been a misunderstanding, and the ep thought that the ref was being disrespected, and just made a wrong decision. and that the vex forum may not be the place to fix a problem like this.

If any on my teams treated the refs like they were they would face far worse consequences. If they did not accept said consequences then they would be off the team. No room for disrespecting volunteers. They are what make these competitions possible.

As far as the EP actions, to me it sounded a great deal like a high school sports coach addressing a team. Not a big deal to me, but we are in a much more sensitive time. Maybe a talking to from the RSM but nothing more.

This whole thing is a bit blown out of proportion.

The hypocrisy in this statement is unreal. If a student said “hey” to a ref they would be confronted and possibly kicked off your team, but if an EP confronted and raged at your students you would have no complaints? It has nothing to do with how sensitive the time is, it’s just a matter of respecting other people.