Children devastated by ruling and attitude by referee at US Open

Video Evidence from two viewpoints.

My son had never broken down and sobbed uncontrollably from frustration before at a Vex event.

Until now, at this weeks Create US Open.

Teams 22698A and 95133B played their hearts out in match 17 of the ES finals at US Open.

They gave it their all. They knew they didn’t win 1st but their efforts would have resulted in a good score regardless. They would have been second place and could take a trophy home. Something to be very proud of.

Match complete, controllers down. Kids celebrating. One of the referees had given the children a thumbs up, congratulating them on their game indicating their touchdown was valid and successful.

For inexplicable reasons, another referee decided to call over the first referee to dispute his call.

The kids were completely tense, standing in shock wondering what was wrong.

The news hit. One of the referees decided to not count their touchdown. She stated that the touchdown grazed the divider between zones at the buzzer before settling in the 4 point expansion zone.

This match, Just like every match before this the kids touchdown settles in the 4 point zone and touches nothing else.

My son calmly explained that in the game manual the result of the touchdown is when the robot is at rest. No motors running, no autonomous code engaged, controllers down.

The response of the referee to my son was

“It was nice of you to argue but my decision is final”.

That was when my son broke out in tears. This was unfair. He was polite. He was respectful. He himself did not argue, he just stood by the game manual. He did not expect peremptory behavior from an adult that had complete power over him.

For 3 days, all we heard from the Create Foundation was that Vex is a student centered event. They wanted to see and hear the kids. They wanted the kids to talk to the judges and the referees. Adults could not talk to the officials or coach the kids from the sidelines.

As parents and coaches we honored this.

We agreed with this.
We respected this.
We applauded this.

Now when my son had the courage to advocate for himself, his team and his alliance this was the treatment he received.

My son is apprehensive about worlds. He isn’t sure what he did wrong to get treated the way that he did. He was dismissed without consideration.

How can I explain to him that he can trust that future referees will honor the rules and not hurt him if he does everything correctly?

As adults we have to do better. We have to trust our kids. When they do the right thing, we should be able to admit our imperfections , mistakes and do right by them. We tell them it is safe and ok to challenge us.

Thank you to the coaches, event partners, judges and parents who support and encourage your children. I especially thank anyone that would not be dismissive, would imagine our children as your children and what they felt.


To say something ‘‘The news hit. One of the referees decided to not count their touchdown. She stated that the touchdown grazed the divider between zones at the buzzer before settling in the 4 point expansion zone.’’ I watched the video It was in the 4 point zone the rules state where everything comes to rest so it would of been a 4 point contact. I was heart broken about this story. That ref is disrespectful. Hopefully they are going to worlds this year. If they are not, tell your son this: He did amazing handling that stuff. I hope I can see you guys at worlds and hopefully my team can get some amazing scores with his! :slight_smile:


I would like to add that middle school’s head ref started laughing at teams who kinda did bad. When we appealed and lost the head ref laughed at us.


Horrible! I wasn’t at the open. I would report it to CREATE.

we had very bad experiences with refs in high school orange division too this year.

I do ageee. That should be a touchdown. Your son is right about the rule

As an former competitor in Vex IQ & VRC for 6 years, also being a ref myself. I would like to say that, I know the feeling of a match not going your way, and i know the feeling of not trusting a ref.

Some advice, to tell your son. “When at match, and you don’t agree with ruling. Explain your reasoning with proof, like have rule/game manual in hand, and read the rule, and show it to the ref”. That is the only way you will be able to win your argument.

Overall your son, behavior in handling that situation was great.


I have tough skin, it was explained, and all agreed. There were three certified referees, and RECF staff that had eyes on the field. While you can’t see in the video, the end of the expansion had a rubber band with a weighted piece on the end. It landed on the blue beam which is a vertical structure. Also not shown were the clips of the parents harassing field officials, or a student throwing a fit on the field. , & Respect was not displayed. The other referee, (we had three eyes on this) also sat with the team and explained even if they had gotten it that it wouldn’t have beaten the high score in an attempt to get the team to stop throwing a temper tantrum. The game manual was pulled out as well and shown to the team. The team that won, won clear out. Sometimes teams need to not just focus on winning, but learning to loose gracefully, with integrity. Often and competition teams lose sight of humility, three referees all certified, all volunteers, he didn’t have a steak between the two teams were in agreement. The only thing I wish happen differently was that the two teams became friends and learn to work together in a collaborative manner instead of posting slander on social media. - this definitely doesn’t help recruit volunteers which is necessary to make events happen. It takes a village. I’m not sure where the team that won was from, but I do have to say that they were a very respectable team. 


Please note the video doesn’t even show the rubber band or the piece at the end of it which was the part that landed. It hit a beam, not the field, and was not counted. This was explained to the team- it is not the referees responsibility to explain this to parents, as this is a student centered program.


Unfortunately it didn’t move to a contact zone with natural momentum…. I will leave it at that, please keep in mind, we have never met the team who won, or the team in question. It makes no difference in my life which team wins. I cheered for them both. If you struggle to find referees for events please keep in mind how they are treated and publicly bashed on multiple forms of social media by teams that don’t get what they want. We can’t bend the rules we follow them, we are human, and a Little bit of humility would go along way.


The kids are experienced. They would never advocate for something they know to not be valid. But please do not change the narrative from how my son was treated regardless of outcome.

Any claims of disrespect never happened. The two parents never left the bleacher area. The kids did the match, waited there and returned to us once you dismissed them.

You have clips of this as claimed that I omitted somehow?

They did not throw a tantrum unless you count crying from being summarily dismissed with no explanation other besides saying “my call is final”.

They were not worried about bearing the high score. They knew they did not beat the high scores. They are upset that you didn’t let them make a case for what they wanted to advocate for but summarily dismissed them.

My son denies this. You just went over to him and dismissed him. You did not show him anything.

This I don’t understand at all. The kids are all friends.

The issue is entirely in how dismissive you were.

You call it slander but it to me it is honest reporting to the best truth , reporting and honor to the best of my ability on what I believe transpired.


You’ve copied and pasted your original reply 3 times now with no mention of this. It’s easy for revisionist history when my replies and stance has been consistent throughout.

Next you can say the kids were moving for 2 seconds after the buzzer rang.

Are you automatically correct just because you are the adult ref?

Is the message to the children “might makes right?”

The issue was first and always you did not do due diligence in giving the kids the space to advocate.

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I was watching the live stream and idk how that doesn’t count as a touch from a bad angel you could see it had landed in the zone.


@Catherinepickavance I would encourage that you give your posts a once-over to proofread them before you hit send so that they are clear to read.

Interesting to hear that the RECF was involved with these matches. Are you sure it was an RECF official you saw? Dan said the other day that the RECF isn’t involved with the US Open beyond handling invites. Got DQed at Us open. Ref did not know what he was doing - #5 by DanMantz

This last statement contradicts your previous two statements. Did the rubber band end up in the contact zone or not? You say it didn’t get there with natural momentum, but refuse to explain what caused it to actually get there. Are you implying that a student went over and touched the robot after the match to change its state?


My question to you is, were you at the us open. If yes, why are you throwing a fit on the forum. Just admit your mistake and move on. Also I was watching that match and clearly no kid threw a fit. You refs were clear in your attitude. There are more than 20 teams even the team that won us open saying the head ref had attitude.


Now it’s very difficult to tell from the video the actual contact and what transpired afterwards . But using a critical eye, this is what I saw from the video. After the buzzer, the student did not put the controller down and was in fact still controlling the controller and is still controlling the robot. Did those controls after the buzzer affect the results? Not sure. But I all can tell is the controller wasn’t placed on the ground to signal the end of controlling the robot when the buzzer sounded. So any controls after buzzer could have affected the match results. Regardless if game affecting or not, the student should have stopped controlling the robot and placed the controller on the ground after the buzzer. By still controlling the robot at the buzzer, the refs now need to determine if that has affected the match or not without any instant replays which is very difficult.

My teams have had questionable calls in the past and hard to accept. As a parent, it’s always difficult to know exactly what has been discussed. As long as the child has voiced his concern, whether the child got a judgement overruled or not, they are learning a lot and that is still a win in my books. All we can do is to reassure our kids is even refs are human and their job is hard and mistakes can be made. That they need to find the strength within themselves to rise up and just be better for their next matches and tournaments and learn from the experience.

I know the results wasn’t what your kids were expecting, but I am hoping this will help them understand and learn.



Actually there was an RECF rep at the us open in the pit next to us.

He put the controller down while the buzzer was happening .

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The match ends at the beginning of the buzzer not the end. From what I see from the video it’s only after the buzzer sounds is when the student stops moving the controller sticks and puts the controller down. So as the buzzer sounds from what I see, student is still moving controller. Regardless it’s a very close call and I always tell my kids never leave it to the last to put controller down. Ideally down before buzzer sounds.


You’re still deviating from the original point of the thread. The point was that the head ref was just dismissive of the childs argument and did not try to here what the kids had to say or explain in further detail why they were making their call. The child was never upset that the ruling was not in their favor, they were upset about how the ref treated them. The main point of the original post was that how the ref acted was ridiculous and not that they were upset about the ruling. I’m not sure what the child is even learning in this experience because the ref is not giving any insight on why the made the call.


If you watch the video slow motion, you can see that there is no buzzer.
The countdown says 3,2,1…controller down.
Then if you look at the robot, it moves forward a tiny bit (from being controlled) the same time they say ONE. After 1,there is still 1 second to zero, where you will hear a buzzer. In this case there’s no buzzer, so it looks 100% legit, but the video on 25% slow motion and you will see what the ref is saying sounds like total hogwash. Even if pointer landed on the blue line at “TWO” then the driver pushed forward the robot on “ONE” to have the pointer into the white zone, that’s still legal, because at zero, the controller is down

And that is my armchair assessment.
With a winning score on the line or not, it feels bad to get overruled like this by a power tripping adult.