Can senior officials at Vex regionals also mentor participating teams?


At your local Vex regional did any of three main head officials eg - Head referree, Head judge, Head inspector also mentor a competing team?

Or did these officals have to have no connection to any participating team?

If they had teams in the competition how did they deal with decisions regarding their own team?
Eg did the head ref stand down when their team was competing, did the head inspector get someone else to inspect their teams robot etc?


Yep. I don’t know how it works for you, but I’ve never felt the tournament leaders at the events I’ve been to have suffered from conflict of interest.

We have held two events so far and the next event is coming up. So far we’ve had the same group of people - Head referree, Head judge, Head inspector also mentor a competing teams. At no point during any of the events did we have a problem where a call went “for” a mentor’s team that was questioned.

The downside is that when you are doing the event task, your team is missing their mentor.

We had inspectors from other teams, as Head Inspector I just answered detailed questions. We did not have any issues with any of the teams at the events (pre-self-inspection is so nice) so it was not a problem.

With 15 teams at our competition of 40 this was definitely an upside.

Recruiting volunteers is difficult and uncertain. It is natural to call on those with experience to help out. Ultimately, a tournament with mentors in key roles is better than no tournament at all.

Moreover, when conflict of interest situations have arisen (at least those I have encountered) those involved have acted with honesty and integrity: promptly informing those present of the conflict and withdrawing as and where appropriate.

That said, both the perception and reality of unbiased evaluation and adjudication are crucial to the value of the experience and success of the event.

You asked about three roles (Inspectors, Judges & Refs). I think their respective needs for impartiality are not the same.

The ‘cookbook’ nature of this role and its checklist approach makes the evaluation standard fairly well defined… We commonly have coaches and mentors from multiple teams participate (they, after all, have the expertise). They generally consult among themselves and escalate if arbitration or additional input is needed.

Conflict of interest in this role is problematic. Judging schedules and assignments can be structured to avoid direct mentor/mentee evaluation but that doesn’t address the fact that when awards are discussed, that team has ‘an expert’ in the room who can ‘clarify’ questions about that team. This is, of course, only a problem when the teams concerned are contenders for awards but recruiting judges only from teams that are clearly going to lose would seem to be a rather uncertain and counterproductive endeavor. We try, where possible, to recruit judges externally.

The bigger issue here is optics. The pace of competition and the various ways in which small determinations can take on larger significance make it very important that field officials (all of them) carry no bias, real or perceived. Of the three positions, this is one for which I feel impartiality matters most.

You asked specifically about role of Heads. The importance of hierarchy varies by event and jurisdiction, of course, but, in my experience, these considerations are of similar importance regardless of whether the official is nominally designated a head.

At the last event I organized, I was given a good suggestion.

Inspecting is done best by people intimately familiar with the equipment and rules, so recruit 2-3 mentors/coaches from the attending teams to do it. The simply don’t inspect their own teams bots (at least not solo).

I like this better than trying to find clever enough inspectors who aren’t actively involved with the participating teams - That has been my practice in the past.