There’s a lot of good discussion going on here, but I’m worried that there are a lot of different assertions/questions in OP that left untracked can easily become inflammatory, or perhaps worse, result in failing to contest latent incidious assertions even as evidence changes. The thread title, for instance, seems like a bad thing to let stand here for students without fully examining the implied logic and complicating evidence. There are a half-dozen conflate topics that probably deserve their own process improvement threads but not much on the original contention of bias:
’1) Timeout rules are being inconsistently enforced across FRC: Uncontested. We have reports of buzzer enforcement in some regions and “let them play” enforcement elsewhere. This has been true in my experience and others reported on this thread for years. I and it seems everyone here so far agrees they should be consistent. I think it’s definitely worth pursuing on this thread (or another) what to do about it.
’2) “At the beginning of the season, it was made clear that they were going to be very strict with timeouts this year. If you are not on the field when the timer reaches zero, you won’t be allowed on the field for the match”: Inconsistent. Per #1, does the muddling on this theard change views of the following topics? Particularly the assertion of difference between teams rather than settings.
’3a) The 2019 Roebling SF 2-3 timeout should have been enforced at the buzzer: Unclear logic. This is not a logical correlary of #1. given the Inconsistency in #2. There is no a priori reason why inconsistency should default to the worst-case scenario for teams, and in fact good evidence that it shouldn’t in FIRST’s intended culture.*
’3b) The incident in #3a violated written rules (sufficient but not perhaps necessary for #2): Subjective call. The timeout section redirects to C7 per “Teams are expected to have their ROBOTS staged on the FIELD by the end of the TIMEOUT. Teams that cause a significant delay to the start of a MATCH after a TIMEOUT are subject to C7.” Where: “C7. Be prompt/safe when coming to and going from the FIELD. DRIVE TEAMS may not cause significant or repeated delays (during the event) to the start of a MATCH and/or to the FIELD reset after the MATCH. Violation: If prior to the MATCH, the offending DRIVE TEAM’S ROBOT will be DISABLED. If after the MATCH, YELLOW CARD.” The subjective nature of “significant” means the teams did not and cannot definitely violate C7 without consistent external authoritative guidance.
’4a) There were multiple penalties called in 2019 Roebling SF 2-3 for which “no ref could or would give a reasonable explanation of what the penalties were for”: Apparently true; not legally wrong. These foul points do exist. No CD post so far has indicated as direct Head Ref explanation though none is technically required. There is a discussion in progress here that shouldn’t be unilaterally summarized, so I’ll just try to break it into constituent assertions. thread
’4b) Refs do not have to explain fouls: Factually true; culturally frustrating. Per 12.2, “While FMS tracks quantities of FOULS, FIRST instructs REFEREES to not self-track details about FOULS; as a result, we don’t expect REFEREES to recall details about what FOULS were made, when they occurred, and against whom. Any reasonable question is fair game in the Question Box, and Head REFEREES will do good faith efforts to provide helpful feedback (e.g. how/why certain FOULS are being called, why a particular ROBOT may be susceptible to certain FOULS based on its design or game play, how specific rules are being called or interpreted), but please know that they will likely not be able to supply specific details.” That said, open discussion on how to minimize non-explaination of tournament-changing calls eould seem very well aligned with FIRST culture.*
’4c) The penalties were illegitimate/the result of unfair treatment: Unsupported. There is no evidence thus far of this, and several analyzers have proposed valid (if #4d inconsistent) violated rules. Not conclusively disproven but not supported thus far.
’4d) The penalties were are result of inconsistently enforced rules: Apparently true. There are lengthy discussions and accounts of different enforcements on the thread linked above. I think resolution of this phenomenon (whether the phenomenon be the appearance of inconsistency or the existence of it) is definitely worth and already under discussion.
’4e) The penalties were not adequately officially explained: Arguably true. There’s no clear violation of the letter of the rulebook per #4b, and the events are not comprehensively detailed in first-person accounts. However as with #3a, we can and many have reasonably asserted that more official public explanation is warranted in alignment with FIRST culture.*
’5a) Not all lag phenomena result in a replay: Uncontested. This I believe is factual, appropriate, and not under dispute. Several official arena fault causes listed in 12.3 (broken element, field power failure, improper FMS activation) can manifest as lag. However, lag can also have numerous other causes that are not arena faults, i.e. are on the robot side. Moreover, arena faults do not automatically lead to replays per the rules: rather “If, in the judgment of the Head REFEREE, an ARENA FAULT occurs that affects the outcome of the
MATCH and any team on the affected ALLIANCE desires a replay, the MATCH will be replayed.” This leads to further legitimate inconsistency in cases where the head ref does not believe it affected match outcome.
’5b) A replay cannot be denied solely on the basis of not having enough time: Factually true. This cause is not caveated in the quoted statement above. Per the letter of the rules, if an arena fault occurs and the head ref believes it affected the match outcome, the match will be replayed.
’5c) A Match replay at Houston champs (unnamed decision(s)) was incorrectly denied based on 5b: Evidence requested. Asserted with no other information. Can you elaborate?
’5d) 2 match replays in the same setting as #5c were granted: Evidence requested. Asserted with no other information. Can you/someone elaborate?
’5e) The discrepancy between #5c and #5d was due to an unfair difference in team treatment rather than a legitimate reason outlined in #5a: Evidence requested. This is questioned but not discussed in substance. Can you elaborate?
’6) The events described in 3a, 4a, and 5e are a result of bias toward particular teams: Opposing evidence. Viewing the larger body of evidence regarding other inconsistent enforcement and explanation of timeouts and penalties, there appear to be clear correlations for differences across events. No clear correlation of inconsistency has been presented for differences across team numbers (e.g. within an event). #6 is not conclusively disproven but not supported thus far.
’7) Broadly, some FRC teams are treated differently because of who they are: Unsupported herein. Currently everyone in positions of authority in FRC is currently human to the (best our knowledge). Humans have subconscious biases that may act both for and against any particular team. Do these biases have a notable trend for or against, as mentioned, powerhouse or Hall of Fame teams? I haven’t seen any evidence clearly isolating this phenomenon. That discussed above appears to more clearly isolate differences in refs or circumstances than differences between teams. However, it is also acknowledged that the latter may be much more difficult to isolate, for instance due to relative sample sizes. Even with that understood, thoigh, is it an assertion we’d want to spread without stronger foundation, or should it be retracted until that’s detailed?
’8) Refs should not be told any “secret rules” that teams are held to but can’t know about: Under discussion. Extensive discussion here regarding what refs do/don’t and should/shouldn’t have secret as well as how to improve consistency and transparency more broadly. thread
*FIRST Vision: " "To transform our culture by creating a world where science and technology are celebrated and where young people dream of becoming science and technology leaders." "
*FIRST Mission: “The mission of FIRST® is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire in innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”