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Unread 11-06-2017, 12:46 PM
Kevin Leonard Kevin Leonard is offline
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How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

FIRST seems to have a problem where they try to discourage potentially dangerous behavior with rules that can affect the outcome of the match.

Take, for example, 2017's rules involving the airship. Pilots reaching outside the airship was considered a potentially dangerous behavior by FIRST. As such, they assigned that action a Yellow Card in the rules.

But the problem is:
  1. What is and isn't "reaching outside the airship" is subjective, and
  2. The result of two instances of this penalty is a match disqualification, which can ruin the event for that team/alliance
The rule "works" in that most every team quickly learned to keep their pilots' hands inside the airships, but it also ruined some events for teams.

At the Long Island Regional, the 5th alliance won their third semifinal match with four rotors, upsetting the first alliance in the bracket, and then proceeded to lose the match on a red card for pilots reaching outside the airship. Similarly, at the 2017 Southern Cross Regional, the third seeded alliance won their second semifinal match to push it to a third, rubber match, only to have that win taken away because a field volunteer let their pilots onto the field before the lights had turned green.

Further back, similar rules existed in 2014 and 2015. In 2014, it was a huge deal during the first few weeks of events where teams would be assessed a 50 point technical foul for a human player accidentally reaching into the field slightly.

I think most people would agree that examples like the ones above are terrible. No team wants to have their hard work taken away by a potentially subjective violation of a safety rule.

So how do we fix this? There are a few ways:
  1. We fix the game to prevent these potentially dangerous situations. 2016 was a good example of that, where it was really difficult for a human player to violate their associated safety rules (although we got an annoying yellow card that year for an alliance representative crossing over a defense during alliance selections).
  2. We relax the rules- it's difficult for me to think of ways that students realistically would have gotten injured this year from minor incursions outside the port holes. If the rule was written differently, to allow a little more leeway, we might have seen less of these penalties given out.
  3. We relax the reffing- referees and head referees are under instructions to enforce these rules sparingly, and only in egregious cases
  4. Head referees really need to communicate how strictly these rules are going to be enforced during the early drivers meeting. If head referees indicate early on that the rule is going to be strictly enforced, that at least lets teams know what's coming.

How else can FIRST discourage potentially dangerous behavior without adversely affecting the team experience?
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Unread 11-06-2017, 12:53 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

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Originally Posted by Kevin Leonard View Post
So how do we fix this?
I don't see the issue. The rules are clear, the penalties intentionally harsh to discourage the unsafe behavior, and lots and lots of teams went through the entire season without a single infraction.
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Unread 11-06-2017, 12:59 PM
Kevin Leonard Kevin Leonard is offline
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

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Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
I don't see the issue. The rules are clear, the penalties intentionally harsh to discourage the unsafe behavior, and lots and lots of teams went through the entire season without a single infraction.
But the rules aren't clear.

The rules in 2017 reads:
Code:
The pilot may not reach outside any PORT (except for incidental and brief excursions outside the port
and above the deck, required to manipulate the carriage assembly).
What defines a "brief excursion to manipulate the carriage assembly"? It's really not clear at all.
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Unread 11-06-2017, 01:00 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

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Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
I don't see the issue. The rules are clear, the penalties intentionally harsh to discourage the unsafe behavior, and lots and lots of teams went through the entire season without a single infraction.
Yeah, I don't see the issue either... https://youtu.be/uOA46I3x6JY?t=7h35m43s

-Mike

To be clear, I don't think the Head Ref in the linked video should be allowed to volunteer with FIRST. Makes my blood boil watching this again and seeing how those kids are treated. Unacceptable.
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Unread 11-06-2017, 01:01 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

Nah, it should continue to be incredibly easy to draw game-breaking penalties. Nothing is more inspiring for students than ending their season on a foul.
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Unread 11-06-2017, 01:05 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

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Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
I don't see the issue. The rules are clear, the penalties intentionally harsh to discourage the unsafe behavior, and lots and lots of teams went through the entire season without a single infraction.
I can't even begin to count the number of times where I asked myself "did that pilot just reach out of the airship or is that much reach allowed?" Sometimes it was called and sometimes it wasn't. There were plenty of times pilots got called for less reach than other pilots, and it's also event dependent.

Being a HP in 2014 was terrifying - every time you threw the ball, you had a little bit of fear, deep down inside, that you reached over and would cost your team the match. And there wasn't anything protecting you from it.

These rules are inconsistently enforced and shouldn't exist anyway. Don't let students get into dangerous situations in the first place, rather than punishing them for trying to win.
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Unread 11-06-2017, 01:07 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

Stop making overly safe rules/design safety into the system.

Specifically, for 2017 make it so pilots can reach out of the airship just not under it. The robots are not tall enough to break the plane of the airship floor. Then for 2014 instead of a rule that says don't break the plane of the field, put a wall that is a little higher then the max height of the rule and have the human player place balls into play that way. (Perhaps add step to give the student a bit of extra height to help them as well.) Also make the lines that these rules are being called on clear marks, i.e. not clear plastic.

Over all design to field to prevent people from doing what you don't want them too, instead of penalizing nervous students who react incorrectly to brand new situations. The less calls referees could make the better for all involved.
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Unread 11-06-2017, 01:09 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

This is a tricky situation, and it all stems from trying to make the game more exciting for spectators. Even back in 2009 this issue existed.

I think the best option would to give teams a "buffer zone" where neither the robot or human player can enter, but don't penalize the HP for accidental infractions. The best example of this would be how the 2013 Frisbee dispensers were designed.

Another tough rule from 2014 was the robot-robot interactions. Teams weren't supposed to bash into other robots, but that happened. A good fix for this is to add "safe zones" to the field, like the 2012 key. Nothing physically stopping the interactions; rather the fear of drawing penalties stops a team. This allows for an open field for teams to drive around, but no risk of teams driving full-force into each other.
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Unread 11-06-2017, 01:21 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

Don't design a field that facilitates potentially dangerous interactions between robots and human players or between human players and field elements.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Corsetto View Post
To be clear, I don't think the Head Ref in the linked video should be allowed to volunteer with FIRST. Makes my blood boil watching this again and seeing how those kids are treated. Unacceptable.
That would be unfortunate, considering that ref has been involved with FIRST at least since I was a student and helped officiate numerous well-run events that I attended, including divisions at Championship. No ref should be judged by one call, in any sport.
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Unread 11-06-2017, 01:21 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

Quote:
Originally Posted by pfreivald View Post
The rules are clear, the penalties intentionally harsh to discourage the unsafe behavior...
I can understand where you're coming from Kevin, although I also have to agree with pfreivald in that the rules are there to discourage unsafe behavior. As I was not on the airships (and our team didn't build one exactly like the field), I can not say for certain what I am about to suggest would have fixed the problem.

My suggestion would be to:
a.) Put more pressure on FIRST to put more thought into these safety concerns when designing the game and field. If there is a safety concern, how can they engineer a solution to eliminate that? After all, these are excited teenagers that are bound to make mistakes at some point, no matter how smart or mature they are.
b.) Encourage refs, emcees, and volunteers to remind everybody about these strict safety rules as they did in 2016 with walking over defenses. It's harder to forget about something when somebody's reminding you of it every so often.
c.) If these do not work then I would suggest harsher penalties for the safety violations. I personally would rather be on a team that got DQ'd rather than on a team where a student was injured because they were unsafe, and I'm sure schools and organizations sponsoring teams wouldn't want to put students in harm's way.
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Unread 11-06-2017, 01:25 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

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Originally Posted by Lil' Lavery View Post
No ref should be judged by one call, in any sport.
Tell that to Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga or to the Referee that said Dez didn't catch it
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Unread 11-06-2017, 01:26 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

This year was a simple rule to fix....

The air ship platform where the kids stood was taller than either robot config this year. These types of rules are clearly in place to prevent human to robot contact. The only way a student and a robot were going to touch this year during game play was if the student consciously reached below the deck or tried to touch a robot that was climbing (and you could only really reach a climbing robot at 1 port... )So you change the rule to state that you can't reach BELOW the deck and you can't reach out of the port during the last 30 seconds when robots are allowed to climb... Would have saved a ton of heartache and still achieved the purpose of the rule.

The GDC needs to look at the rules they are creating, the field they came up with, and try and think about what they are trying to achieve. If its ambiguous rules with complicated field components that leave the final ruling to random interpretation by, semi to non trained volunteers, then the GDC is hitting grad slams. If in fact they are just trying to make sure everyone goes home in 1 piece and feeling good about their teams performance, then the GDC has struck out more times than Aaron Judge.
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Unread 11-06-2017, 01:43 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

In my opinion, there just needs to be more emphasis that final calls by the head ref should use common sense and just be reasonable. If reaching past the airship is determined, give the students a stern warning and let them off the hook. If the pilots were released too early, just let them off the hook. Yes the rules are harsh to encourage following the rules but if there wasn't actually any danger involved and no one got hurt, everyone should be given a warning and just move on. Calls don't always have to be by the book. At least for rules that don't really have an impact on the match result.
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Unread 11-06-2017, 01:46 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

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Originally Posted by Lil' Lavery View Post
Don't design a field that facilitates potentially dangerous interactions between robots and human players or between human players and field elements.
Agreed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lil' Lavery View Post
That would be unfortunate, considering that ref has been involved with FIRST at least since I was a student and helped officiate numerous well-run events that I attended, including divisions at Championship. No ref should be judged by one call, in any sport.
I would argue this isn't simply an example of a "bad call". Did you watch how long those kids were left crying in the airship? This situation was created by the Head Ref, not a poor snap decision. There were many opportunities to be reasonable and care about the student experience, none of which were taken.

Obviously I have no say, but I hope steps are taken to prevent damaging decisions like this in the future.

-Mike
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Unread 11-06-2017, 01:51 PM
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Re: How the rules can discourage dangerous behavior

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Originally Posted by Rangel View Post
In my opinion, there just needs to be more emphasis that final calls by the head ref should use common sense and just be reasonable. If reaching past the airship is determined, give the students a stern warning and let them off the hook. If the pilots were released too early, just let them off the hook. Yes the rules are harsh to encourage following the rules but if there wasn't actually any danger involved and no one got hurt, everyone should be given a warning and just move on. Calls don't always have to be by the book. At least for rules that don't really have an impact on the match result.
A yellow card IS a stern warning. It has zero impact on the match, unless you've already been warned.
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