While I understand that ref’ing is no easy task, and that all Vex competitors should treat the refs with upmost respect, what are we supposed to do if a ref’s call is blatantly incorrect?

To give an example, at a competition today, the ref (while REALLY good!) made a couple significant mistakes, but they weren’t game changing in terms of the results of the competition. The first thing that happened was during one of our early matches when we descored a doubler barrel towards the end of a match. When it happened, the ref called that the doubler was not descorable, since it was under the pvc pipes. From my point of view it appeared to be definitely over, which was why we attempted it. I know that it is not allowed to use replays to prove any points, but we did have a camera mounted on our robot so we had proof that the barrel was clearly over the pipes:

In a situation like this, what is the course of action to take? We spoke with the ref afterward, expressing our opinion that the barrel was over the spokes of the goal. He said that he checked during the match and that it was under. Graciously he did not give us a DQ for the descore (although i’m not sure of the legality of this) and we moved on from there. If this happens at a future competition is there anything we can do to prove ourselves innocent?

The second thing that happened was merely a misinterpretation of the definition of scoring. In the final match we placed a doubler on top of a goal like this:

In this case, it was my understanding that the barrel would be considered scored as it is not fully under the pvc pipes, but is within the outer ring of the circular goal. This barrel was not counted as scored, but luckily did not change the outcome of the match. If we had showed the ref the point in the handbook where it explicitly states the definition of scored, would we be rewarded the points back? Thank you


Karthik had ruled that cameras were legal in this post.

I assume they were using a GoPro or something similar.

yup the GoPro is sweet because we can review footage from our matches and see what we could’ve done better.

Man, I want one

You can ask the ref to reconsider their decision, but they still decide how to apply the rules. The only thing you can do in that case is to be very clear that you were right about it.

Once in our tournament yesterday, there was a really tricky call with two robots fighting over the center 30" goal and holding up a negator and doubler over it. Then the refs moved the robots away so that the gates could be closed. I don’t think it would’ve changed the outcome of the game, but there’s only so much you can do about possible errors.

We are really lucky in New Zealand because most of our games are reffed by people from Auckland University (AURA) who, as well as having actually played the game, have learnt the rules back to front, especially tricky situations that may arise (robots touching scored objects, balls/barrels sidewards in goals etc.) Imho refs should all make that kind of effort to know all of the rules, so it can be a smoother and less frustrating game for the participants. Imagine in a sport, if the players knew the rules better than the ref. I know refs are volunteers, and its great they are giving up time, but not knowing the rules is kind of annoying. We in New Zealand are just so privileged to have super dedicated volunteers :D.

Are you referring to the quarterfinal match where 1492X and 1495 were playing? I was really interested in if the referees were going to make the correct call that match. Basically 1495 had pulled out the opponent’s negator, but it was a close call whether or not they had actually backed off the goal enough so that the negator wasn’t “inside the goal” as it extends towards infinity. Sadly we never got to see anything fun with that call when the referees immediately pulled the robots back and just called the negator bad. Interesting situation regardless.

they did that with various last second doublers as well
they just pulled it off because the “robot was touching it” even though there were some other colored objects that would have been doubled
(again, not a game changer)

I have found the best way to approach a ref when he/she has made an incorrect call is to have the rule highlighted or circle in a paper version of the rules. Then you can calmly just say this is how I think it should have been called in reference to rule ###.

I have always been a believer that if a rule is incorrectly called in a match where it does not change the outcome, the rule should still be brought to the attention of the ref so that the same rule doesn’t affect the outcome of a match where it does matter. This was the precedent has been set.

Done politely, most refs should appreciate having a particular rule or Q&A response pointed out to them. It won’t change the outcome of your match, of course, but it might correctly guide the outcome of another one.

One of the challenges in staffing a tournament is to find volunteers who know the rules as well as veteran team members do. Put simply, YOU have been studying the rules and following the Q&A almost daily since April of last year. While the refs I know take the job seriously and study the rules and Q&A and seek guidance from the head ref, no one has as much time (and motivation) to study the rules as a VEX team member.

If this is a concern to you, then please feel free to volunteer at your favorite VEX event(s) as a referree when your playing days are done… and don’t be suprised when veteran teams come up and politely explain that you blew a call.:o



I always recommend having three things well in hand when you wish to discuss a call with a ref.

  1. The facts of the situation. Facts DO NOT involve the intentions of the drivers. Facts do include the locations of items, whether items touched, when items touched, etc; but NOT assertions about WHY people acted as they did. It is always better if both alliances can agree about the facts.

  2. The complete, specific rule that you think has not been applied correctly to the situation in which the facts were pertinent.

  3. A specific change that you believe should occur because the facts plus the rule(s) combine to mandate a change.

If you present that information in the way that is allowed/mandated by the Game Manual, you will either be successful, or you will not. Sometimes you will not get a change because a ref misunderstands the rules and doesn’t realize it, or because a ref is introducing too much of their own opinion into the situation, or because (using the tools they are allowed to use) the ref(s) simply can’t confirm what you assert is a fact, is indeed a fact.

Whether you succeed or don’t in getting a call/score/DQ/whatever changed, remember that the real prize is your education and career, not an individual match, or a trophy. There is much, much more to the VRC program than building robots and playing matches. Don’t limit your horizons to a subject as narrow as winning matches. That should be one of many things you do, and are passionate about, but certainly not the only thing.

To review:

  1. Pertinent Facts
  2. Specific Pertinent Rule(s)
  3. Specific Change Requested

And… Regardless of the result, let it go and move on to the rest of your life. Perspective is important. :wink:

But Vex is my life… :stuck_out_tongue:

Hey Thorondor,

I know you kids live in the digital age, but one only has to look at recent local events to realize that public online correspondence can be a curse more than anything else. I know that venting on a keyboard is easy and I’m a big intimidating guy, but did you ever think about talking to me??? Back in the day, we dealt with our issues face to face and still consider any other tact a form of disrespect.

If we are making mistakes, then they need to be corrected on the spot. My ref has about 40 kids tugging at his ear all day to get that extra point all the while trying to keep on schedule. On top of that, he has to stay on top of hundreds of pages of rules and keep up a good fashion sense (inside joke). All I did for him was to buy him a ref shirt and say, “here - this will be fun.” The least I can do for him is to take some of the heat off of him. So the answer to your question, at least when it comes to NJ, is to talk to me. If you still have a problem, then you can bash me on the forums.

So yes, you made people upset but no, there are no hard feelings. All I’m thinking is that I have to buy another ref shirt. What size are you…it’ll be fun :).