Theoretical 'Challenge System' and Implications

Hi, I want to start this thread to talk about the ‘Challenge’ system in further detail as well as to keep another thread on topic.

Lets recap:
The Problem: Teams do not have any ability to contest referee decision / offer reasonable input.
Initially Proposed: Allow refs to view video footage of a match at referee discretion.
Issue: Time consuming / Puts pressure on refs to be unbiased / May be abused

@AlexM_4478X offered an interesting solution to this problem, dubbed ‘Challenge System’

I have quoted him below:
**However, I do believe that there should be the option to “challenge” (think NFL Football) where you get only one chance to challenge a call but it is redeemed if you are correct in your challenge.

I think that the Challenge method is a great way to:

  1. Give people the ability to show video
  2. Make people cautious to use video so as to prevent needless reviews
  3. Fairly distribute this important tool

From me:
“Say each team had 1 chance to submit video for review. If an opponent looses and feels they need to prove something to the ref, let them. If you know you won for sure, the hard video evidence can’t hurt you. If you know there may be some vagueness and/or the ref should see your perspective because something was fuzzy, now is a good time to use a video. If you did something wrong and you didn’t get caught, well the Challenge system worked out as intended.”

As I said, if implemented properly, this system could offer a fair, efficient, and unbiased way for teams to engage with refs in disputed calls.

I did not add everyone’s arguments; please feel free to reiterate them below for others’ context.

Hard no. I’ve seen ruling reviews last 10-20 minutes and that’s without having to review cell footage from various angles.

Not to mention it’s already frustrating how many people stand in front of the arenas for spectators, this could result in four people trying to film any given match.

I don’t see many EPs getting on board here.

I think that EPs should have their own choice on whether or not to accept these video reviews and VEX should outline some sort of guideline for video reviews. If the volunteers/refs score a match wrong, then the team should be given a fair chance to show that they indeed won the match, especially since teams are paying money for travel, food and a chance to attend the tournament.

But thats the thing. Do you think ruling reviews last even longer without cell footage? Lets assume that the ruling review is to clarify what happened on the field, not how to handle it. In the latter situation, I don’t think it’s likely a team will find it necessary to contest a decision, because no one is arguing over an event, but rather the consequences. This situation will be unaffected by the challenge system. But, in the first situation, instead of debating over a series of reasonable guesses, refs can immediately turn to video footage to understand what happened. I don’t see why this wouldn’t reduce review time, not increase it. Even if the review used to last upwards of 10-20 minutes, I think footage review would be included into this time, or at the very least, add only a small portion of time.

@Andrew Chang the issue with this is that tournaments that may not find it feasible to accept video reviews would be unfairly criticized by teams. Same issue with allowing EPs to choose BO1. There can only be a blanket ruling.

Life for an EP is difficult enough without parents shoving cell phones in their faces. A hard no from me, too.

They already do. Honestly, sometimes it feels like an EP trying to explain why they can’t review video causes more trouble and anger from the parent then if they were to just look at it.

Regardless, this would be a student driven decision, systematic and organized.

As an EP, I would want teams to have same quality experience - so right off the bat, this eliminates ALL team provided footage. I run up to four fields at some events. I would need four identical set ups for all fields in use. My biggest concern, is I would want the same for all events in our region. I would not want teams from one part getting one treatment and the others a different one. I have problems when I get a team who starts off by saying “but at … they …” My guiding documents are what the GDC and RECF puts out for running events.

Now do I budget down time for challenges during the qualifying matches? Which is more important to teams?

During eliminations I understand the pressure on teams - we try to run three person referee crew, so the head referee can have different perspectives on the field. With Bo1 - which would I rather - long argument + video review time or just play it again if it is possible something was missed. I tend to favor the latter if I had to pick today. Ask me again later in the season :).

Another EP that votes “no.” The NFL makes millions of dollars per year and is resourced to manage something like this. Let’s face it, huge paychecks are at stake in the NFL. Huge paychecks are NOT at stake with recreational robotics or any other recreational sport. Sometimes refs make mistakes. That’s just something we all need to live with. Sometimes ref’s rulings are more harsh that someone else believes is necessary. Again, that is life.

In addition to judges sticking phones and pads in judges faces, I can only imagine parents jockeying for position to get the optimal camera angle. It sounds like a huge mess. To stop this behavior, the beaurocracy would become ovetwhelming.

I think some perspective is in order. This is a recreational sport. It’s not a professional sport. Careers and paychecks are not on the line. Students are there to learn and grow.

Just remember VRC is not a democracy - EPs don’t get votes here - just give feedback. GDC / RECF provide the context for competitions. If they do go down the route of video challenges, I would expect it to be consistent for all events and teams.

Teams have long expressed the desire use of technologies - it is good to hear that. With institutions, like the RECF, it takes time to get on board with new fangled technologies - like electronic notebooks :slight_smile:

True, then rephrase it to say “my vote is no.” Of course, I would abide by whatever rules GDC / RECF sets forth.

I’ve made my opinion clear. I’ve dealt with phones in my face before,not fun.

It’s a lot to ask of the GDC, RECF, and EPs to implement the infrastructure and operability of video review. I think a better use of resources would be to make sure every event has a solid group of volunteers, particularly key volunteers.

Event partners vote with their feet all the time. No event partners, no events.

Correct, but I do want it clear if we host events, we do so under the governing rules set by the GDC and RECF. Clearly, if we don’t like it, we should not host it.

I want teams to understand that it is a level playing field - EPs are here to run events that follow rules and are venues for great learning experiences.

Right, it should also be mentioned that if EPs have to invest in cameras, this adds to overhead and running a EDR tournament is already less profitable that hosting IQ events.

I’d be worried this would just result in fewer tournaments overall.


In baseball, an umpire that throws a player out of the game can expect a lengthy argument with that player’s manager with a lot of yelling and gesturing. (If they’re lucky the manager’s face will turn red as an added bonus :stuck_out_tongue: ) But with the replays, the manager requests a replay, the replay is granted, a call is made, everyone accepts it, and the issue is resolved in under a minute and a half. A factual argument is impossible to resolve without evidence, but with evidence it becomes extremely easy.

In this way, I think the replay system would cut way down argument times and benefit EPs a ton. Students on the other hand…

The issue for me is most disputes seem to be in the creative ways referees (mis)interpret the rules, not factual disagreement. The very controversial 2941A DQ at worlds was made when the referee fully understood the facts of the situation, and still made a (wrong and absolutely absurd) discretionary call. If the referee had seen a replay, he still would have had the same wrong and absurd understanding of the rule, and he still would have DQed 2941A. The same is true for the 1008M DQ this year. There was no factual dispute, the dispute was over the interpretation of a rule ending with “at the head referee’s discretion.” Obviously the head referee’s discretion cannot conflict with itself, but it can conflict with the intent of the rule and common sense that yields fair game play.

I think this system would make things a lot easier on EPs by reducing argumentation times significantly, but I really doubt it would solve the majority of DQs. Either the rules need to be written more clearly in a way that can be more easily enforced by refs, or an official authority to whom competitors can appeal needs to be set up to solve unwarranted DQs.

Baseball also has an umpire at Central command to review the film for instant replay. You’re either asking an EP to provide the infrastructure and run that which is taxing on resources, or for the RECF to set that up and have multiple people on call at any moment to review the that. That’s not reasonable.

What’s more reasonable? Have more resources for refs, more ref training, add a FIRST like system for refs.

I agree that VEX should have better training for referees.

VEX and the RECF should make sure all referees know the correct way to think about the rules, so that if a question comes up, the referees will do what the GDC would want them to do, even if the question has never come up before.

I also feel that if there are referees who blatantly misinterpret the rules, and refuse to consider the possibility that they might be wrong, maybe these referees should receive consequences from the RECF (at least a stern warning).

Maybe EP’s could have a way to find out in advance about serious controversies their tournament’s potential referees have been involved in (if higher authorities agree there was a real problem with what the referee did).

Maybe a controversy-prone referee could still be responsible for most refereeing decisions, but the DQ’s, at least in the elimination rounds, could require approval from someone else at the tournament (such as the EP).

These rules would only be for serious offenses, where a referee was being dishonest or unwilling to listen - not for cases where a referee just didn’t catch something that happened in the match, or genuinely believed a rule meant something else, or had another good reason for what they did.

The same rules could also apply for EP’s, volunteers, and anyone else under the authority of VEX or the RECF.