To just accept wrong doing just because they’re moving onto college isn’t good. I understand this is just another chapter in their life that ended one month earlier than it should have. I still think that this a big issue that needs to be dealt with. The outlook that we should just let things go is one I personally do not like. This is a recurring issue that will never be solved if everyone just let it go.
I want to take a second to summarize what we’ve gathered so far.
448X was DQed from state finals for pinning. The referee did not confer with blue alliance before disqualifying them, as is standard procedure, nor did he give them any verbal warnings during their other 5 alleged offenses, nor did he establish the pin to be match affecting, nor was the red alliance attempting to escape, so it technically was never a pin in the first place. As such, the referee did at least 3 (and possibly 4) things wrong. We have video evidence for 3 of these 4 points.
448X conferred with the referee about the DQ. We do not know exactly what was said, but we can tell from the video above that 448X’s body language was calm and respectful and that nobody was being “abused.” The referee in question took offense to this interaction however and reported it to the RECF.
The RECF emailed 448X within 2 days of the incident, informing them that they were being disqualified from competing for the rest of the season, without telling them what they were actually being disqualified for. It took the involvement of their principle, two other RECF regional employees, and Dan Mantz just for them to learn what they were being DQed for without any hope for an appeal.
And we don’t have any evidence of this (yet) but 448X claims the RECF also changed their case against them and forced them to collect new evidence to discredit multiple BS charges, which is consistent with 448X’s behavior on discord and other social media, and which is consistent with the RECF’s treatment of 62A and 6007X last season during a similar incident. So I think we can accept this as true until we hear the RECF’s side.
*End of summary
So in order to establish that they deserve their worlds spot, we basically need to figure out why the RECF believes 448X verbally abused the head referee. (Social media comments and youtube copyright strikes have nothing to do with vex and are way beyond the scope of this thread.) So in the incident in question, either 448X actually did verbally abuse the ref, the ref incorrectly reported to Tarek and Nancy that 448X abused him, or Nancy and Tarek incorrectly reported to Dan that 448X abused the ref.
Now I wasn’t at the event and I have no idea what was actually said in the conversation between 448X and the head ref, but the gesturing indicates they were talking about the specific robot’s interactions during the match, not threatening or abusing the ref. Most everything a reasonable person would say when expressing the body language displayed above would not be considered abuse. (Try angrily cursing someone out with calm body language. It’s pretty tricky ) And this is totally consistent with my interactions with 448X. They were respectful at all the regionals we competed at together, they were respectful at Google, they’ve hosted a number of scrimmages at their warehouse, and they’ve overall been awesome people and really solid sports.
I’ve interacted with the head ref at that state tournament, Daniel, many times before with no serious problems. He’s a decent, honest, fair person, and I don’t think he would ever intentionally sabotage a team. At the same time, I’ve seen him get pretty defensive with competitors over ruling disagreements. I don’t want this thread to turn into a smack talking session on Daniel, but here is one example. At the same tournament that 448X got DQed in, 8771Y was tipped over in quarterfinals. When 8771Y brought their complaint to the Daniel (they were way ahead before the tip, the offending team was clearly the aggressor in the interaction and nearly knocked over 8771Y’s teammate as well, it looked like a textbook DQ) they weren’t even able to get a word out before he (pretty aggressively) told them his decision was final and shut them down. My friends on 8771Y were upset about how he handled the call and they said that’s how he had interacted with teams all day.
And then we have Nancy and Tarek, the RECF high ups. I’ve only ever had one significant interaction with Nancy, back in 2016, and that was plenty. After states was over, I approached her and asked if I could take some NBN balls home to practice with. We had just won states and we were on a pretty tight budget, and there had been several bags of balls behind the bleachers that were totally unused the entire day. Nancy, with no provocation whatsoever, began yelling at me about entitlement and irresponsible children and and wouldn’t let me leave until my mom came over. (I was 14 lol.) She’s a loose cannon and I have no idea what goes through her mind, but it doesn’t seem to even share a border with rational thought.
As for Tarek, I’ve had no significant interactions with him personally, but we have direct video evidence that he lied about 62A and 6007X’s qualification to Worlds last season. Tarek announced after the semifinals round at states- in which he decided to disqualify both teams on one half of the bracket and turn the semifinals match on the other side into the finals at his own discretion and with no written rule- that every team in the semifinals match would go to Worlds. He then failed to Send a Worlds invite to either 6007X or 62A, accusing 6007X of a controversial safety violation and 62A of a bogus G1 violation, and he didn’t actually tell 62A why they weren’t being invited to worlds. 62A only heard about this alleged G1 violation when Tarek vaguely referenced it at a competition the next week several hundred miles away.
In short, we have no solid evidence that 448X verbally abused anyone, and we have 3 potential intermediate links in the chain from 448X to Dan Mantz that, at least from my experience, seem way more likely to misinterpret or intentionally skew the truth. The fact that this is the second time Daniel and Tarek have issued a season DQ over a sketchy G1 call at states in two years should raise some red flags, and the DQ and appeal process (at least as described on this thread) should raise some more.
Given all of this, I would say it’s extremely probable that 448X did not deserve their DQ from an objective standpoint. Since we can’t get an objective standpoint however, we need to listen to both sides of the story. 448X has pretty clearly presented their case, and I’d be very interested to hear what the RECF says (if they choose not to ignore this thread or give an arm wavey response.) But at least given what I know about 448X, Daniel, Nancy, and Tarek, I have a really hard time believing the RECF was justified.
And then there’s the question of whether the ends justify the means. Even if 448X did abuse and threaten the ref, should the DQ have taken place behind closed doors, within 48 hours of states, and with no consultation of 448X before a final decision was made? Should the appeal process have involved the principle of their school (even though 448X is not school affiliated) in order to get them in even more trouble? Should the community continue to verbally and financially back an organization that does this to high schoolers on a semi-regular basis? It’s pretty deeply troubling.
While I cannot speak to how 448X talked to the refs, I do have experience with the head ref which leads me to side with them. My robot was tipped in quarterfinals, and afterwards my teammate and I went to talk to him about the decision. I would like to preface this by saying my goal was not to debate him, I’m still not sure on the legality of the tip, but I did want to know his reasoning behind the call. Even as we approached him he came off as defensive and angry. Just as we were coming up to him he said the decision was final and there would be no arguing. My teammate and I treated him respectfully, never raised our voices, and he continually got louder and angrier telling us to stop asking. At one point I asked something along the lines of “I apologize if I am coming off as disrespectful, but I would just like to know how x circumstance affects the ruling.” This did nothing to change his behavior. After he went to look at the other field, I came over to the other ref who was there (he was great by the way) and told him I was sorry if we came off wrong and thanked him for volunteering. The head ref came back and in a sort of accusatory way asked what we had said to him.
In a small side note, my teammate went to inform the ref about an incorrect way in which the field was set up. The polycarbonate on the wall was not properly inserted so that our robot was at one point able to get caught in it during autonomous. The ref told him he did not have an interest in fixing it because we were not in a match. While obviously this case is not as extreme as 448X, it gave me a sense of the disposition of the ref. He was defensive and disrespectful towards teams trying to talk to him that did not entirely agree with his ruling.
Also, I would just like to address the suspicion that some have for stuff that is posted on the forum. Many of the teams like 448 that do this have no choice. The system almost feels designed to prevent students from making their voices heard. When we tried to contact the California rep (for something else entirely) we were told students were not allowed to talk to them through phone or email. How is a team supposed to talk about something like this if the RECF tries their best to avoid them?
In our appeal process we were also unable to contact the RECF as students and this was very frustrating considering we are primarily a student run team.
Frankly this is an issue with Tarek Shraibati, his personal grudges against teams, and the RECF’s willingness to put up with him.
I’ve never made this public before, but now that I am into colleges, I am not so worried about posting something controversial. The following is a list of things that Tarek did last year against team 6007X.
DQed us from a state semifinal match for an uncaught inspection violation (fair), then didn’t give us a chance to compete in future matches after fixing it (as VEX rules state should be done).
Proceeded to disqualify the entire semifinal match (including 62A), resulting in no finals matches being played at all.
Failed to send a worlds invite, despite our semifinalist position qualifying for worlds.
Failed to notify us that we had been disqualified from the world championships.
Contacted members of our parent organization, trying to force us into retirement through
At this point, after RECF ignored all our emails, we decided to try to qualify through skills.
After we signed up for a skills event in Norcal (Google 2 skills), Tarek put a personal hold on our sign up, causing us to miss the deadline and be placed on the waitlist.
After the competition decided to add spots, allowing us onto the team list, he had us removed and placed back on the waitlist, (at this point we had been charged the registration fee, but were not refunded when we were moved back to the waitlist). This was under a week before the competition date, and we had bought flights by then.
Personally called the event organizers, telling them to, under no circumstances, let us into the competition.
#5-7 were not known to us till months later, when someone involved with the competition told us what had happened.
Suspecting that Tarek was behind our inexplicable removal from the event, we decided to sign up for an event outside of his jurisdiction (in Utah). After arriving at the event, we were told by some very confused event organizers that Tarek had called and told them to be extra hard on us.
After getting a worlds qualifying score in skills, Tarek again put a personal hold on our worlds qualification, delaying it a further two weeks, just three weeks before the world championships.
After facing this, 6007X ultimately decided to retire, despite finally qualifying to Worlds. I cannot speak for any other teams by name, but other interactions of several other high performing teams with RECF officials also led to their retirement at the end of last year.
I have absolutely no doubt that the reason that team 448X is not being allowed into worlds has nothing to do with who they are or what they have done, and everything to do with a personal grudge of Tarek Shraibati against them. Tarek is once again employing his playbook of unexplained disqualifications, disregard of VEX rules, and attempts to punish team members through non-completion-related avenues. It is pretty hard to miss. 448X has my full support in this, for whatever that is worth.
I hope that RECF has the courage to do the right thing, and overrule this clearly unfair ruling.
RECF, please fire Tarek immediately; someone so vindictive and petty clearly has no business being involved with a high school robotics competition.
Wow, this does highlight the injustice that recf has at an alarming frequency. Once a year is too much.
It was more than once last year. I just didn’t want to speak for any other teams.
I will add that my team and a slew of other teams have been disrespected by 448X throughout this season. Do I think that 448X deserves a seasonal ban? I don’t know, because I don’t know what happened at LA states. Who knows, they might have been utterly disrespectful to teams at states, but again, I can’t confirm if that was the case because I wasn’t there, I am simply going off of my previous experiences with this team.
How were you distrespected by them? I can definitely see how they can come off as a little unapproachable, but I haven’t seen them act explicitly disrespectful to anyone.
I’ve experienced working with RECF California leadership and Dan on rebutting my world ban a year ago. Weeks of emails, photos, quotes, letters to my school, and phone calls gave me a good understanding of how the RECF operates in cases like mine.
Dan is a great guy that came into a company with a lot of deep problems he was tasked to patch. I’ve talked with him extensively as both a defendant and as a friend. I am confident that he is the leadership that VEX needs.
Dan is not the problem. His information pipeline is.
Like many others who have approached me, I have seen members of the RECF knowingly lie, alter information, and manipulate evidence. It has happened to dozens of teams, some of whom’s stories are so hard to believe if you hadn’t experienced it yourself.
Unfortunately, as a student, it is really hard to get anyone to believe such an accusation. Most of these situations become so convoluted, few end up with the whole RECF experience.
This can happen because in VEX, a student’s voice will always be valued less than an adult’s. (It is literally RECF policy to not communicate with students, try sending an email.)
Clearly there are fundamental issues within the RECF and VEX, enough so for most of their initial leadership team to bail ship. A clear divide between the company and the competitor has been growing and it is the community’s job to fix it.
VEX breeds some of the smartest problem solving students in the world. Instead of alienating them, the RECF should work with them.
Both sides need to sit down with each other with open minds.
Dan, if you are reading this and value my perspective, I can make a 15 minute phone call worth your time. You have my number.
I want you to realize that just because you didn’t experience disrespectfulness from a certain team doesn’t mean that others experienced the same. And just because you didn’t see any disrespecting from a certain team doesn’t mean that others have never been disrespected by them. Please be more open-minded in this discussion. Thanks.
This confuses me. Everyone signs a release form to compete and it included releasing all rights to vex on filming. Per that contract the only part that should be able to carry out that strike is vex.
Having read all of this I am glad we don’t compete in California, is the team in question seniors?
I still can’t believe that this cycle of disqualifying teams in California is continuing without oversight from RECF upper management. The fact that this has happened at several occasions multiple times in the past few years, is terrifying for any VEX team competing in California; this should at least put up a red flag, for RECF to look at their process and methods for disqualifying teams. I won’t speak to this any more (since there are others that have had much more interaction with RECF than I have), but I will say that not allowing students to argue their case, if not communicate at least, with RECF is a problem. For an organization that promotes STEM leadership and action from the students, requiring mentor and school principal intervention undermines the students and their contributions. (especially since 448x isn’t a school run team, but rather a private one).
I would rather speak to what I saw at the state championship. This is what I saw:
At the end of VEX states, I remember the referees coming up and disqualifying Team 448x and their alliance partner for pinning. Many of us in the audience were rather surprised, since 448x had clearly backed up at around 4 seconds after playing defense multiple times. This ruling aside however, we were also rather confused because the refs did not seem to explain this to the teams before it was announced. As soon as the announcemnt was made, I saw 448x and their alliance partner ask to discuss the ruling with the head ref, at which point everyone seemed to proceed to behind the fields, near the queuing table, in the pit area. My team and I were nearby, and a couple of us wanted to ask some of the team members of 448 what had happened. From what I can remember, I don’t think it was anything out of the ordinary - as I (and countless other teams) have done many times, they seemed to be having a respectful discussion with the refs, to understand their ruling, and perhaps share an alternate perspective. It seemed as if they were confused about the ruling, and how they had violated the rules that the refs said they had. Again, this discussion did not really seem like anything different than might happen during a tournament. I do remember Anthony, a VEX veteran and mentor for several Southern California vex team getting involved, similarly confused about the ruling. I can’t attest to whether he should or should not have been there, but I do not think he did or said anything rude, derogatory, or again, out of the ordinary. As a whole, the conversation seemed like a discussion of clarification, nothing else.
tldr: The discussion 448x had with the refs was no where near close to being rude; if anything, the head ref was extremely dismissive of them. It seemed like they were looking for clarification more than anything else, and we’re going about it in the most respectful way.
Let’s assume (our assumption would be wrong, but humor me) that 448x did say something that was misconstrued or thought to be rude. Does this warrant disqualification from Worlds for a team that qualified multiple times from several tournaments? Probably not. It doesn’t matter anyway, since this is not what happened.
What I can say is that 448x has been, this year, an amazing team and amazing inspiration for teams in the California VEX and World VEX communities. Considering this is their rookie year as a private team and they’ve done this well, it simply attests to what you can do in VEX with time and dedication, even without the funding of a school. From what I’ve seen, they’ve gone out of there way to actually help other teams, whether it be programming, design, or strategy. 448X deserves to go to worlds, no doubt about it.
I’d like to add my input to this thread. For anyone who doesn’t know me, I was a student on 5225A for Starstruck and In the Zone, 472A/B prior to that, and will be competing as part of a new VEX U team next season.
I’m generally of the view that participation in VEX is about a lot more than just the outcome at competition; as a participant, the goal should be to learn as much as you can, have fun, and make a good robot that performs well irrespective of competition outcome.
However, that does not mean that any inconsistency or unfairness present in the competition is necessarily acceptable, much less justifiable. The RECF’s mission, according to their website, “is to increase student interest and involvement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by engaging students in hands-on, affordable, and sustainable robotics engineering programs.” It becomes more difficult to attract the students and mentors alike to these programs, and even to justify our own continued participation, every time one of these threads takes off on the forum, so I’d think it would be within the RECF’s interest (and mandate) to find a solution.
My suggestions to the RECF are as follows:
- Be willing to talk to students directly. Many teams, including my own and apparently 448X, are not associated with a school, and so it makes no sense to involve school authorities under any normal circumstance. Besides, if you really do want to teach students “soft skills” as well as technical skills through this program, you should be willing to engage in a civil, professional conversation with them.
- Make a process for dealing with situations like this (and make that process public). A major issue across all threads like this is that the RECF appears to play it by ear every time. On top of ensuring consistency and transparency, it would save everyone time, including referees, team members, and RECF staff, if there was a written procedure for handling complaints against teams, appeals from teams, reported issues with events, etc.
- Involve the community. Student participants are your largest stakeholders, and right now the vast majority feel that they do not have a voice, and rightfully so. I’m not asking you to make major decisions by referendum on the VEX Forum; I’m asking you to legitimately accept input from competitors, mentors, EPs, and others on all aspects of the competition structure in a more public, transparent and ongoing way (which the forum can provide).
If you don’t make an effort to improve, you’ll see more frustrated teams retire, either moving to other leagues (read: FIRST) or leaving robotics entirely (which is directly against the mission of the RECF and this entire community).
I’ve been part of this community for nearly 5 years now, I’ve seen it from the perspectives of a rookie on a somewhat dysfunctional school team, a member of a very serious and competitive team, and now as a student-mentor of that team and a future VEX U team captain. I have faith that the problems pointed out in these threads can and will be solved, otherwise I wouldn’t be willingly continuing to participate. However, it won’t happen automatically, and it’s up to the RECF leadership, with or without pressure from the forum or other sources, to make it happen.
I watched the video and it looks like between :45 and :35 that the blue robot has the red robot trapped in the corner. In Delmarva the refs use loud voices and arm swings to count both the pin count and the “break” time count. There was about a 1 second break. I’m assuming the teams on the field knew the ref was counting.
In the thread it says that 448X was called for pinning 5 prior times in the event.
Based on that, at an event that I was the EP for, all the drivers would hear about pinning and how we will enforce it. In addition your team would have been warned going into the playoffs about pinning (based on the 5 prior times). So I’m having more sympathy for the EP and correspondingly RECF at the LA event.
I know that refs don’t watch videos and the referees ruling is final (Since I enforce that rule). As an outsider, I watched the video, there was pinning, the blue robot backed away for 1 second and then continued the pin. I would have ruled for the DQ.
Sorry that it didn’t work out.
Hate to break it to you but they also worlds qualified at Google, a signature event. Even if they were dqed at LA states there was no need to take away their worlds qualifications.
At this point i don’t believe arguing the legality of the pin is the purpose of this thread. The more pressing issue is the disqualification from any further competition and the way it was handled.
I see your point, but the match DQ is irrelevant. Even if we’re all in agreement that it was a DQ, that doesn’t explain the season DQ that was made afterwards. The match DQ is just a red herring that detracts from actual conversation about the season DQ. Additionally, as per what @nJeunG said, they both qualified at Google and qualified as a finalist at state.
I was at the event. They were not called for pinning 5 prior times. They were only called 1 time and warned.
What I deduced from the thread was there was other interactions based on the DQ after the call. Had the DQ not happened the interactions would not have happened. So to me the DQ was the root cause, I’m commenting on it and it alone.
I’m way out on a limb looking at match videos and second guessing a ref and and EP when I don’t allow other people to second guess my refs and I’ve tossed teams out of events for back-chatting me or a referee. So I’m going to stick with the root cause, because I’m not party to or want to be party to any of the discussion that happened after the DQ.