Call Inconsistencies Between Regionals

Has anyone else noticed any inconsistencies between regionals up until now? I thought at kickoff it was said that there was to supposed to be a ref test to ensure that everyone calls the same. Any thoughts on these inconsistencies?

Note: This is not a thread to bash refs, just to discuss different calls at different regionals.

Yes, some folks have noticed.

Well, of course there will be inconsistencies. Refs are people too, remember?

I think they’re still doing a great job. Of course they will miss calls every now and then, or they’ll interpret rules differently from regional to regional, but give them a break… they’re volunteering their time to help us.

In general, I feel that the refs this year are wonderful.

Yes the Refs are people as well, but I think it should be consistent through out all regionals. I mean there was a test to be a ref right? So why would all the calls not be the same? I have seen people lose matches because penalties were called and others win because penalties were not called. To me this seems kind of unfair in a way. I don’t know if its on purpose or not but it shouldn’t happen.

I understand where you come from, but it’s not that easy to be 100% consistent across the board.

<random digression>

Just noticed that the quote on my page says… “People are human, refs are human. The refs did the best they could do at the time. - Andy Baker”

</random digression>

Anyways, there were calls made that I disagree with, but that will always be the case. If they called it the way that I would agree with, then someone else would be displeased. My interpretation of the rules definitely has some differences when compared to your interpretation. The same applies to the judges. Even if they’re trained, they cannot cover every aspect of the game. Some things just need to be called in the moment. It’s impossible to have a solid definition for things like high-speed-ramming, herding of multiple balls, and such. Sometimes, the judges just need to do their best and make the call the way they see fit. Since judges at one competition are not the same people as judges at another, there’s bound to be this difference… and some teams are bound to get burned by it. Unfortunately, that’s part of life.

I think the best think we can do is continue supporting our refs and I have this feeling that in future years the refing inconsistencies will get more and more inconsequential and insignificant as returning refs get more training and new refs get a more rigorous (?) training course.

If judges were calling penalties at Detroit, then somebody should tell the refs, because it’s concerning if they were doing the refs’ job instead of Judging teams for awards ;).

Good news for Great Lakes - Most of the refs are veteran referees and half of them will have 3 regionals under their belts this year already. So if you were at Kettering or Detroit, you should hopefully see a LOT of consistancy.

If everyone could reflect on the vast amount official calls differ between games in hockey, or football, or baseball (and even between innings/periods), and then consider that those officials are actually getting paid for it and the game doesn’t change from year to year, that’d be greeeeaaaat. Yeah.

now, from my personal experience, in the MLB/NFL/NBA/NHL/etc. that the calls are pretty much the same in every game, every season. there’s no reason for any bias, and there’s rigorous ladders to climb to be an official at that level. the most that officiating in sports will stray is in college sports, especially in bowl games, where the officials will be from another conference, and will show bias towards one team or the other.

you can’t really draw analogies between the refs for FIRST and for sporting events, because the situation is entirely different. there’s no way in first you can call a timeout in the middle of the match to debate every call that’s made (like in the NFL with the challenge flag, or in the MLB, or the NBA). we also don’t have the time to go back and watch a replay to reverse a decision. like others have said before me, Refs are human. they make mistakes. sure it’s really frustrating to have to sit and watch some of the calls that are (or aren’t) made, and not be able to do much about it, but there’s got to be something we can do to make it better for future seasons.

my $0.02

Another factor, mentioned by Mark Leon at SVR: In “professional sports”, these games have been played for decades or in most cases more than a century, and, essentially, everything has happened. In FIRST, the game has been played at a maximum of 6 weeks, and many refs have probably not seen the game at all before it starts. And then of course there’s the whole volunteer factor…

So far, I’ve only watched the San Diego Regional, so I haven’t noticed inconsistencies between regionals. But here are the inconsistencies that I have noticed:

  1. An inconsistency within the regional itself. Friday the refs were vigorously waving flags and dishing out penalties right and left. Since I wasn’t extremely familiar with the game, I had a hard time figuring out what was going on at first. Then on Saturday, I was seeing violations all over the place–but the refs weren’t calling most of them. Maybe it was just my subjective impression, but I really wondered if the refs were tired or something. I also wondered if maybe they were deliberately using a strategy often employed by teachers starting off a new school year: come down hard at first (Friday), let everyone know you mean business, then when the students come to heel, you can let up a bit (Saturday).

  2. Inconsistencies within the game rules. For example, I had a lot of trouble understanding the penalties at first, especially this “breaking the plane” business. I read the game rules, reread them, and asked some knowledgeable people about them. I saw that “CROSSING the line” was clearly and carefully defined and explained in the DEFINITIONS and SCORING sections. I read that the entire robot or trackball had to cross the line in order to score. But people were telling me that a PENALTY would be incurred if the robot went over a line in the wrong direction, even a tiny bit. Someone referred me to G22, which supposedly says this. But no matter how hard I’ve looked, I’ve been unable to find any definition whatsoever of “break the plane,” or of which plane is meant.

To a consistent way of thinking, one would assume that if a robot must completely cross the line in one direction to score, then the robot must completely cross the line in the wrong direction to receive a penalty. But that this is not the case isn’t made clear anywhere in the rules that I could see; everyone but me seemed to know this out of the ether or something. The exception was one of our alliance partners in our first match, who earned us 40 points in penalties, causing us to lose the match, because they, too, did not learn this undefined rule out of the ether. So hundreds of points were lost at San Diego because of an unclear rule.

Another point: while reviewing the rules as I drafted this post, I noticed that there is no “penalties” section in the rulebook. Someone glancing at the Table of Contents for the first time might not even realize that there is a whole slew of penalties buried within the rules. It seems to me that if there’s a section on how to score points, there should be a corresponding section on how to lose points. Or maybe the Penalties section should be a subset of the Scoring section. Doing this would make it easier for everyone to understand the penalties, I think.

It has occurred to me that maybe the items in #2 above were explained in a Q&A or Team Update somewhere. But if so, the clarifications were not included in the latest revision of the game rules, which I printed out the week of the regional.

I’m sorry, but when teams are paying between $4,000-6,000 to attend an event, the excuse that “referees are just volunteers, give them a break” holds no water.

$6,000 is a lot of money. At the very least, it should guarantee teams that they will receive a consistent gameplay experience from event to event. It may not be about the robots, but it sure isn’t inspiring to see poor refereeing altering the way the game is played.

We are the customers of FIRST. It seems to me people forget this. We are paying for a service, and if that service is lacking, we have every right to ask for it to be restored to an acceptable level.

Far too many see FIRST as god’s gift to man, and not the teams as a gift to FIRST.

So far, I’ve only watched the San Diego Regional, so I haven’t noticed inconsistencies between regionals. But here are the inconsistencies that I have noticed:

  1. An inconsistency within the regional itself. Friday the refs were vigorously waving flags and dishing out penalties right and left. Since I wasn’t extremely familiar with the game, I had a hard time figuring out what was going on at first. Then on Saturday, I was seeing violations all over the place–but the refs weren’t calling most of them. Maybe it was just my subjective impression, but I really wondered if the refs were tired or something. I also wondered if maybe they were deliberately using a strategy often employed by teachers starting off a new school year: come down hard at first (Friday), let everyone know you mean business, then when the students come to heel, you can let up a bit (Saturday).

  2. Inconsistencies within the game rules. For example, I had a lot of trouble understanding the penalties at first, especially this “breaking the plane” business. I read the game rules, reread them, and asked some knowledgeable people about them. I saw that “CROSSING the line” was clearly and carefully defined and explained in the DEFINITIONS and SCORING sections. I read that the entire robot or trackball had to cross the line in order to score. But people were telling me that a PENALTY would be incurred if the robot went over a line in the wrong direction, even a tiny bit. Someone referred me to G22, which supposedly says this. But no matter how hard I’ve looked, I’ve been unable to find any definition whatsoever of “break the plane,” or of which plane is meant.

To a consistent way of thinking, one would assume that if a robot must completely cross the line in one direction to score, then the robot must completely cross the line in the wrong direction to receive a penalty. But that this is not the case isn’t made clear anywhere in the rules that I could see; everyone but me seemed to know this out of the ether or something. The exception was one of our alliance partners in our first match, who earned us 40 points in penalties, causing us to lose the match, because they, too, did not learn this undefined rule out of the ether. So hundreds of points were lost at San Diego because of an unclear rule.

Another point: while reviewing the rules as I drafted this post, I noticed that there is no “penalties” section in the rulebook. Someone glancing at the Table of Contents for the first time might not even realize that there is a whole slew of penalties buried within the rules. It seems to me that if there’s a section on how to score points, there should be a corresponding section on how to lose points. Or maybe the Penalties section should be a subset of the Scoring section. Doing this would make it easier for everyone to understand the penalties, I think.

From Section 7, Rev. G of the manual dated February 28:

<G22> Direction Of Traffic – ROBOTS must proceed around the TRACK in a counter-clockwise
direction. Once a ROBOT has CROSSED a LANE MARKER or FINISH LINE, it shall not
break the plane of the line by moving in the clockwise direction. A PENALTY will be
assigned for each infraction.

PENALTY: A 10-point decrement in the ALLIANCE score assigned when a deserving violation of
the game rules has been identified by a REFEREE.

I am not exactly sure where the confusion lies if you have read this…

“Breaking the plane” is a common phrase that has a generally accepted meaning. If any team was unclear on the definition or interpretation of this rule they could have asked via the Q&A or at the driver’s meeting at their event. When discussing “breaking the plane” of a line it is commonly meant that the plane is the plane through the line, perpendicular to the surface the line is on (in this case a vertical plane from the line). Breaking this plane involves crossing though it (no matter how little).

The phrase breaking the plane is used in many sports including basketball (free throw rules), tennis and volleyball (net rules) and football (goaline rules).

You’ll find that definition in in section 7.2 DEFINITIONS. It speaks of “the plane defined by a line (i.e. LANE MARKER or FINISH LINE) when it is projected vertically upwards.”

one thing I’m interested in finding out is whether or not other referees were counting blatant rams from other robots that caused another robot to cross a line backwards as breaking the plane rather than a ram.

See Rule <G23>.

I’m mostly concerned about the call(s) that ended the Silicon Valley Regional. The refs didn’t score a blue bonus ball because it was supported by a red robot. The rules clearly state that balls score if partially supported by the overpass and not touching a same colored robot. It’s just about the most basic rule possible, and the concept is the same year in and year out. Any scoring item don’t score for a team at the end of the match if touched by that same colored team. I think the main concern isn’t the consistency of interpretation at this point so much as calling the rules appropriately.

I thought we were the only team that felt this way about this whole weekend.
I too dont believe in the “volunteer excuse.” No one is pointing out that they are ungrateful of volunteers. When you volunteer for something, there is a certain amount of responsibilities that you must uphold in meeting a task or criteria. In this case, its understanding the rules. We have the right to “graciously” question things that we know/feel may be incorrect.

Example #1: Both us and our teammate were crossing the second lane divider during hybrid. The other team moved 3 feet in front of their starting position, then stopped (I wont assume that they were trying to block). How is it that we get 1 penalty each for hitting the robot during hybrid mode? It wasnt even hard and no damages took place. Due to the contact, both us and our teammate actually had our ball grabbing manipulators malfunction, deeming us unable to hurdle.

Example #2: I saw a robot trying to hurdle and accidentally place the ball on the overpass instead. Their teammate comes around and knocks the ball down. No points were awarded. I asked the referee on the “left” how come it wasn’t a hurdle since I was standing in the queue area waiting for our match. “He” told me that they didnt pick up the ball to hurdle it. ??? Last time I checked, that was a hurdle.

Example #3: We were assessed a penalty after a match because one of our alliance partner’s coach was standing next to us instead, but “within the area for drivers and coaches” during hybrid period. He said we all had to stand behind our respective teams. Since when?? If so, how come it was never called all of the other times I saw it.

Example #4: I saw an alliance receive 40 points in penalties. 30 of them was because the entire alliance went to the controls a few seconds before the bell rang after hybrid mode. I dont get it. The whole day had teams consistently moving to their operator controls just ever so slightly before tele-op period.

Heres the problem: These referees (who are trying their best) who have just the slightest inconsistencies in how they call penalties has a HUGE impact in the W-L column of the respective matches. I have never seen a game where penalties consistently affect whether teams win or lose.

Glenn,

I agree. Saying that the refs are trying their best is a total cop-out. If someone flat out don’t have a solid grasp of the rules, then their best just doesn’t cut it, and something has to be done.

I know that all the referees had to take an online training course for two days. Isn’t it at all possible that there could be tests and refreshers for the refs leading up to the competitions? I know that a lot of teams do rules tests for the students (and mentors in some cases) to make sure they know the rules inside and out. Who’s to say that’s out of the question for making sure the officials are prepared?

Well, myself and Dustin(thefro) were talking and we were just throwing around the idea of a massive online drivers meeting. It might be kind of hard to get together but it would be beneficial. The driver and the Refs could all have a meeting and the drivers could ask questions about the penalties that are going to be called. It would be just like the regional meeting but all the Refs would be in the same place so it would probably make it easier for them to make more consistent calls. Also, teams would know better what to do and not to do.