Problems at a competition

Before I begin, I’d like to say that I am in no capacity writing this because my robot performed poorly at the competition I attended today. That is entirely the fault of me and the people on my team, and had nothing to do with the circumstances of this competition. I have no intention of attempting to (posthumously) change any of my scores, bring about different rulings, etc., and this post is not an attempt as such. What happened with my robot is in the past, and nothing can change it; I have no intention of doing so.

That said, I attended a competition today. On the 2 fields, the tape lines defining the divide between the near zone and far zone were placed very differently from how they should be. The blue side of field 1 was as it should be. The rest were 5-6 inches closer to the fence. I understand that VEX comes with 1 inch tolerances, and I need to design around that, but 6 inches is absurd. On the red side of field 2, the tape line was closer to the the third row of tiles than the actual centerline. During the autonomous portion of one of my first matches, I noticed this. My robot pushed the cube forward, enough that it was past the centerline, but still on the tape line. When I asked the referee about whether I had descored my cube, she said that variation was a part of VEX, and as the discrepancy was the same on the other side, nothing would be changed, my cube wasn’t scored. This would have affected the outcome of the autonomous bonus, and I believe that it was thus match affecting (don’t quite remember). While it was true that the gap was the same on both sides on field 2, the blue side on field 1 was as it should be, giving blue an ENORMOUS advantage, as they had 6 inches less far zone to defend.

The referees also made several incorrect rule calls during the day, such as that a robot must be fully within the starting tile to load a cube into it, that a cube cannot touch any gray tiles, and that a preload cannot hover over any gray tiles. The conversation between the ref and I usually went like:
Ref: Excuse me, you can’t . Make sure you in the future.
Me: I’m sorry, I don’t think that’s correct, I’ll check and make sure.
Me: Later I found this Q&A on the official forums, and the head of the GDC says .
Ref agrees.
When I try to again in a later match, the ref says, "You can’t . That’s the second time you’ve done that, if you do it again, it’ll be a DQ.
Me: But . . . understood.

EDIT: A little while after this, another referee came to our pits, and told us that while we hadn’t broken any rules, we were pushing them, and they wanted us to avoid that as much as possible.

During eliminations, the dispute over whether a preload could be over a gray tile arose. We readjusted our preloads for a match, and I found an appropriate Q&A before the next match. I went to the referees, when she said, “I’m through reading Q&As from you, if you want to discuss this, go to the head ref,” and started the next match while I talked to the head ref.

I feel I should clarify: I don’t want anyone punished or anything like that. I understand that, while being well within our rights trying to make sure the rules were being followed, we were certainly an annoyance to the referees. And while I tried not to be rude, I’m certain that I didn’t come off as the most polite.

What did I do wrong, if anything? How can I avoid this (competitions setup blatantly incorrectly, referees who don’t know the rules) in the future? And if I should encounter either of these things again, what should I do?

The ref clearly did not read the rules before being a ref. I suggest you complain to your advisor. I think thats all you could probably do…

You should contact your RECF Regional Support Manager which should be Corey McCoy (At the top of your post it says you are from Peoria, Arizona, so I was able to figure out who your regional support manager is). You should let her know what is going on and what happened at that tournament because that is completely unacceptable. Your Regional Support Manager should be able to take care of things and make sure that it doesn’t happen again. Since I wasn’t there or did not witness it, I can’t say for sure if what you did or said was wrong, but from what the post says, I think you handled it as best as you could. This has happened to me several times, and it sucks, but there is no way to avoid this at the tournament. The refs have the final ruling and you really don’t want them to be mad at you because that makes it worse. In the future, do exactly what you did, and maybe get one of your mentors or parents involved who can back you up. Good luck!
You can contact your Regional Support Manager at this email

In theory this would be the way to go. Although this year in Arizona we had an intern that sought to fixing things like this. He is no longer with the RECF. Without him, Corey has 5 states to manage also which makes it harder for her to show up to competitions or help solve problems at them.

This will be handled and I am sorry for the outcome, I know in the past we have had similar problems in Tucson but that is unacceptable. I wil see to it that the next events will be staffed with refs who are knowledgeable of the rules and the ones who aren’t I will teach them. If you go to an event and this happens again feel free to contact me and I will be there to settle things out and address the situation promptly. Justin knows I’m all about getting the fair and just outcome and this definitely wasn’t the case. I did consult with the EP and he was under the impression that Corey was going to be there but never showed up I did attend in the morning but didn’t look at the fields I was helping with the wholeTM issues they were having, so I’m sorry for not paying full attention to the situation.

My number if this happens again is 5206069452 shoot me a text or call me if any problem arises.

Based solely on your report, it sounds like you handled it correctly. Unfortunately, all the refs are volunteers and in some areas it is more difficult to find good free help than in others.

We seem to be very fortunate in Indiana. I am not saying things are never called incorrectly, but the refs here get it right the vast majority of the time. In the rare situations where a clarification is made by showing the rules and/or the Q&A, I am not aware of any situation where the rules or the Q&A answers were not followed.

We have a good group of event partners in Indiana and a strong pool of volunteers to help with officiating. When I read posts like this, I am thankful that the few problems we have seen have been minor by comparison.

When you graduate, become a volunteer and make it better.

I have been to many competitions where incorrect rulings were made (many times match affecting). When you go to talk to a referee, make sure you are always polite. Also, have the rule ready beforehand on your phone or with a paper copy of the manual. From what it sound like, you did both of these things. There will always be some competitions that are unfair and do not follow the rules. After competing for many years, I normally know what the competition will be like before I go there. Sadly, of you go to a lot of competitions, having a few confrontations with referees over rules throughout the year seems unavoidable.

Definitely do this. At the ACP tournament, our head ref and another ref were graduates who participated competitively in our VRC teams while in high school. On top of that, many other positions were held by current VRC participants. This setup, especially for refereeing, helps give teams the best experience possible, as the volunteers have been in the teams’ position before.

Thank you, I’m glad that something will be done. Hopefully I’ll never have to call that number.

Yeah, he’s really unpleasant. :wink:

The Iron Pride state qualifier in Indiana had many problems. Before matches started a team member and i had to reset all of their fields because they were backwards. They also considered scoring objects hovering over the fence as scored in the near zone for the robot holding them. Lastly, I cannot count how many teams were allowed to start their robot in or load control loads into the right pole side starting tile for skills.

My biggest complaint currently for Indiana competitions is sxhools expecting you to que for qualification matches far to early. Two places we have been to have called teams up to eight matches before they play at a two field competition. I can not stand venues that call for teams, especially that early. If a team does not show up it stinks for the team that is allied with them but Vex in indiana is predominatley high school and students should take care of themselves.

I have showed up to 3 tournaments this year in which I had to take over the entire tournament at times because of the problems in the first paragraph. All of the problems are pretty common here. Regarding queueing, we always queue early because we almost always run fast, so it catches itself up throughout the day.

If only we had a group of experienced volunteers around helping to run most tournaments…
[Only some Arizona VRC participants from last year or before might know what I’m hinting at]

Seeing the difference from losing said group, though, I will attempt to make myself more available as a volunteer next year. Hopefully others active in the Arizona VRC community do the same.

If you mean that the objects held by robots were scored in the zone the robot is in, this is correct. If you mean that the objects were scored on the opposite side of the fence that the robots were on, that is incorrect. What you described SOUNDS like the former, but if it is the latter… that’s very bad.

Event partners just need to train volunteers better, especially referees. Our tournament was fine without them. :slight_smile:

This is true. But I’m not convinced that every EP knows the game/rules as well as they should to begin with.

They don’t need to. They just need to make sure the referees read them.

I think there are important words of wisdom here for EPs from teams regarding training of volunteers. Each region has different experiences, some have it easier with dedicated volunteers and alums who know the VRC format well. Others are struggling to get volunteers in advance for events. I am fortunate to have very experienced operational team, and still draw adhoc volunteers for jobs like queuing and field resets on the day of competition. At competitions outside our school, we always send our team members to do field resets and parents often volunteer to help out. EPs really value such help. Sounds like many teams in this thread are doing the right thing recognizing it is a volunteer run event and stepping up when needed. Kudos!

We are very lucky in the state of Wisconsin. We have a very strong set of EPs along with several programs that train their judges and referees very well. We realized from the start, when we began running events as First VEX Challenge back in '06 -‘07, that we would need a strong volunteer base. All of the EPs and prospective EPs are given pretty good guidelines about the number and types of volunteers that are needed to run a good event. Many of the more established programs often will serve as inspection teams and provide referees to newer events as a means of training. It is a shame that RECF didn’t get the referees’ training videos out until late this season. We ask all of our prospective referees to watch them. When we (the established programs) go to a new event or an event with new referees, we make it a point to aid the EP by meeting with the group of referees to discuss the game and how to referee it. All of our events start with a driver’s meeting to go over any important rules and to allow the students to ask questions about the rules. This will definitely push your referees to know the rules, because most of the students will.

Without commenting on any specifics, the very first thing I tell new referees during training is that the students are likely to know the rules better than you, so be polite when they bring you concerns. Make sure you read and understand the rule in question, and be willing to admit that you have made mistakes. It’s better to let the schedule slip a little than to be wrong on the rules. (On the other hand, don’t let students roll over you either…)