So recently I attend a tournament and during the awards ceremony they said that REC no longer required that they give out awards if judges felt that no team deserved the award. Is this something new that REC added this year or was the tournament staff being dishonest.
Read the guide to judging awards. https://kb.roboticseducation.org/hc/en-us/articles/4912455338391-Guide-to-Judging-Awards
It says they have to give out excellence but it also says If no team meets the qualifications for an award they can’t give it out. The requirements for excellence are higher and more specific this year.
This is not new, although the existing rule that excellence is not required was highlighted this year. The logic is that judges should not feel obligated to deliver the award given that there are several objective achievements teams have to meet in order to be eligible.
It is common for multiple teams to meet the goal, but it is possible to have a fantastic notebook and not make the rankings limit, skills rank limit or skills programming limit. Alternatively a team can dominate in competition but have a mediocre notebook and poor interview.
The increase in scrutiny is to make sure the Excellence award goes to a truly well rounded (excellent) team. It should not be design is second best notebook and excellence is best notebook.
[As an aside, tournaments are also not required to give out Design award, under the same general concept. If all of the notebooks are from developing teams and rate poorly on the rubric, judges are not required to select a team that has not demonstrated design process.]