Reffing Problems

This and past years, there has been quite a lot of outrage about poorly trained referees. This year alone, I have heard stories of a team being told they were “lucky” their opponents were DQed for a match affection violation, another being told it was unsportsmanlike to try to get their opponents DQed for a match affecting violation, a ref getting a technical rule wrong and saying it was disrespectful to pull out the rule book, and a plethora of other stories about the refs not knowing the rules or refusing to look at the manual or Q and A entries. However, refs are unpaid, barely trained, and often have never competed themselves or been a referee before. How can this problem be solved?

I understand that referees are volunteers who often have no technical expertise, but the student competitors are not. A good portion of student competitors know the rule book inside and out, and it should be the responsibility of the refs to admit a student is right when they in fact are. I think the easiest solution is simply to emphasize to all refs in the referee training videos and in the game manual that they should listen to a student competitor’s challenge and read the relevant rule or Q and A for themselves even when they feel they are right. Simply telling the refs to listen to the competitors instead of asserting their own authority and turning a blind ear to complaints would solve a huge portion of these issues.

The other effort we, as student competitors, need to make is to only challenge something if it is important. If your opponent plays illegal defense in the finals that’s one thing, but if somebody breaks the plane of the field in a qualification match or they look like they could be out of size but they passed inspection, just let it go. Refs, as human beings, will be more receptive to challenges if the majority of these challenges aren’t petty and meritless.

With the combined effort of vex training videos and the manual, the referees, and the students, I am hopeful we can collectively reduce the number of miscommunications.