Running events are hard

Across every season are a large number of threads about “refs were bad”, “judging was bad”, “judging is biased”, “venue was a mess”, “field displays were bad”,“field control issues”, etc.

This is a topic that really frosts my flakes.

All events in VEX are done on the backs of volunteers. I used to be in South Eastern PA, and I know that with the exception of a few events, everyone there is a volunteer. I’m now in Delaware running events here and with the exception of the Delaware State Championship (where we had a RECF intern) there wasn’t any paid help running the event.

The biggest challenge that I face producing events is finding help. I need teams to come with their fields, tiles, elements, towers, cables, etc. I need to find people to be referees, judges, queue, reset, etc. etc, It’s a huge project effort to do anything 24 teams or more. There is an amazing amount of work that goes on before, during and after an event.

I’m building new, sustainable teams (started 10 new teams last year, on track to start 35 teams this year). With team growth comes event growth. So being stretched doing the 6 events I did last year, I’m looking at doing at least 9 events to give teams a chance to play 3 times during the season. Oh and States will double in size, even more logistics.

All of the posters in all the threads saying how unhappy they feel are consumers, not event partners. I’d like to suggest than rather competing at 6 events if you are unhappy, to compete at 3 and help out at 3. You will be impressed how hard it is.

Be a judge, ask to be the second ref at a field. It’s hard.

I started back in the day of two digit team numbers. Teams are now in five digits starting with 9, I expect to see 6 digit team numbers. So in a decade from when I started there has been amazing growth and RECF has done their best to keep up with it. Worlds events fit nicely into Disney and Dallas. But as the growth picked up the events became larger and larger. On both ends, we were lucky to have 16 teams at an event, and now 32+ team events are common. Worlds has grown to be the largest event of it’s kind.

RECF could have (and maybe should have) taken the approach of taking the three winners from each state, another 30 from China and a big handful from the rest of the world and run a nice 200 team event. But because of the growth in states they decided to grow Worlds. Last year there was a huge cry about the lack of worlds slots. So the same 20 RECF person team that ran a 4 day combined VRC/VIQ/VEXU event totally lost their minds and ran two back to back events with over 400 teams at each event.

With the help of hundreds of volunteers they pulled it off. Like the roboteers all the volunteers did the best they could.

At the Delaware State event in 2016 there was a number of teams that were unhappy with the judges. They felt that since the judges were parents of roboteers that there was a bias towards those teams. So this year, with the help of Team Dover, 22 airmen came and were judges. None of them had a team contact. I brought in a head judge, someone that had done judging for 6 years, is a mentor of the year from another state. And you know what? I STILL got complaints of bias.

Bottom line is that volunteers make this work. We do the best we can. There isn’t a bias.

It’s hard running events, we never have enough people. And I do make a point of when people complain about events that I run, they are on the front of the list for people to help at the next event.

TL;DR – Not happy about events, come help make it better. It takes little effort to make a post or do a poll, come show your commitment and help your fellow teams by being a volunteer. We can always use more people.

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Say it loud; say it proud!

Yes, running events is hard. And getting harder as more and more events come online. As it has been stated, if you have an issue, then come volunteer yourself.

“Don’t be part of the problem, be a part of the solution.”

Although I don’t run 9 or even 6 events, I have been running events since it was the First VEX Competition. In my area of Wisconsin (within a two hour drive), there are usually events every weekend, beginning in mid to late November through State in early March. We are beginning to run into situations where our event partners are having difficulty finding enough volunteers, particularly judges. I am an officer in a non-profit that supports events (primarily VRC and IQ) through EP training and renting our tournament in a box (a trailer that has just about everything an EP would need to run an event). Since we have so many events in relatively close proximity, we tend to draw on much the same pool of judges and that is getting more and more difficult. We plan on getting out this Summer and actively visiting businesses that may have potential judges to try to recruit a much bigger pool. We would like to get to a point where, once our state event schedule is set, we can send out a survey/questionnaire to all in the pool giving them the opportunity to pick which events they are willing and able to serve. Hopefully, this will allow them arrange their schedules well in advance and give our EPs a much better idea of how many judges they have available (and if they need to recruit more).

One other comment, I have seen on this forum that there are places where lesser teams have been given awards over more deserving teams, because the more deserving teams have “won enough already”. I certainly understand the sentiment. However, I hope that isn’t really the case. If the lesser teams want to earn awards, then it is up to them to step up their game. If a team deserves the award, then they should receive the award. Here in WI, we have had a program that has been the gold Standard in this state for many years. I don’t think there has been a year where at least one of their robots didn’t qualify for Worlds. They always seemed to win ALL of the awards at all of the event. However, that isn’t the case any more, several other programs (mine included) stepped up their games and now compete at the top level.

Agreed. I helped with the setup of the Tracy Triangle tournament (the largest tournament in Northern California), which had ~65 teams competing. We had ro set up over 100 tables, put crowd control cordons all over our school gym, set up 5 fields, etc etc. And this was just setup. The next day, there were a lot of refs, moving the tournament along pretty quickly. Some of the people in our sister team volunteered as refs for our league, and they said it was pretty stressful keeping things accurate and moving quickly. So, maybe have some empathy for the refs and EPs the next time you criticize an event. It’s not the end of the world if a ref makes one bad call.

Adding in that showing up the night before to help set up and/or staying an extra hour after the event to pack up all the equipment is greatly appreciated. Most teams are packed up and gone by the time the awards come out. Tearing down, packing up and loading a 4 field event takes about 3 hours with 2 people and about 30 min with a dozen people.

Wow. I would say at least half of the teams send at least 1 volunteer to help take down tournaments in Arizona. Its usually one of those things that just happens without asking.

Its also nice when the school has a very large NHS program in which many of the students need volunteer hours :stuck_out_tongue:

We actually offer an incentive to teams which help with setup and volunteering, if they send someone the previous night to help out, we will inspect their robot the night before, to allow them more practice time / reduce stress. Do you offer something like that in Delaware?

We do, that and pizza to set up. Tear down is the bigger problem.