FAHA: Referee/Volunteer Screening?

As mentioned by the following FIRST-a-holic, and many responds in the post highlighted in the following message, this thread should not be questioning if the referee at a competition made the wrong call or not. Lets focus in answering this fellow FIRST-a-holic’s concern about the referee screening process, and have a civil discussion about some difficulties teams are facing at competition from the volunteers who help running the event.

My team recently completed a regional in which we had an issue with the on of the referee’s.

This Thread (http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=26973) contains a similar problem to the one we faced. The opinions that those responding to that post felt I completely agree with, however our problem was a bit different.

One of the referee’s at our regional turned out to be a former (& very disgruntled) team member. They left us during the build period becuase they did not cohere well with our team, and chose to leave under thier own will without being asked to leave/forced to leave/pushed to leave.

When we arrived at the regional which we knew this person was volunteering at, we learned that due to a lack of volunteers they had been made a refeferee. This scared us greatly. On friday, in a match that ultimatly decided whether we would end up seeded or unseeded, this referee threw 2 penalties against our team causing us to lose the close match instead of win. None of us believed that we had commited the double infraction, and felt this was specifically becuase that referee was biased against us. (In a later match while in the que we heard the same judge issue multiple warnings to a team in a round who committed the same infractions that we had apparently done) Our team coach objected to the head referee but we were told that the referee’s have final say.

My questions to those out there are:
What could/should have been done by us?
Should FIRST set restraints on the possible ages that referees can be (as to hope maturity=impartiality)?

Other suggestions would greatly help.

No no no no no, See… I would have fought that.

The HEAD ref has final say, not any ONE of the other refs on stage. Did any of the other ref see this supposed rule violation? If that is the case, then the call that was made would be tricky no matter what the ruling.

In the future, try to talk to the head ref at the competition if you know that this person is reffing again. Maybe the head ref will assign them to only watch the other teams on the other alliance. As for this competition there is nothing you can do now, just live and learn.

I can think of a related situation (but in an opposite fashion) that happened to my team, last season (2003). We were competing at the Silicon Valley Regional, and one of our college mentors was reffing. We all realized that it would be a conflict of interests if he were to try to ref our matches (naturally), so he voluntarilly sat out each of our matches.

I think that this is a more than adequate way to try to reduce the amount of bias, whether it be positive or negative, of the refs for any given team. Perhaps if a team has any concerns about the biases of the refs, they might be able to ask either the Head Ref or some of the other refs if they might ask the possibly biased ref if he would graciously sit out a given match, due to a team’s concern or for a known history, as it were.

I don’t think any rules need to be made, and even if any were, how effective they may be, but I also think that, generally, people can be fairly reasonable. I think that, if a ref of questionable objectivity were confronted about it, they would calmly and quietly sit out a match, especially if confronted by a well-informed colleague.

I’m actually surprised that FIRST didn’t have any standards for scheduling refs, not that I think it’s a bad thing. When I originally signed up for the GLR, I had no hope that I’d actually be a referee, even though I checked the box. Therefore it came as a very pleasant surprise when I got the position. Not that I think I didn’t deserve it. I’ve been in FIRST for 6 years, and I think I know the rules as well as, if not better than, many.

That being said, I think that what you should have done (or do next time) was notify the head referee about the possible conflict of interest BEFORE the match began. If the HR knows about possible problems, then he can look out for them and solve them on the spot. Afterwards may be too late.

I agree with FotoPlasma. I’m not a referee at any of the regionals that my team is at, but if I was, then I’d personally try to avoid those kind of situations of partiallity (Is that a real word?). If I knew I would be refereeing a match with my team, then I’d sit out or switch with another ref to minimize my influence on the game, even though I know I’d never intentionally favor one team over another.

To play Devil’s Advocate - What if FIRST made it a policy to not allow HS students be referees? While myself, Jeff Waegelin and other college FIRST alumni may be qualified to ref, maybe high school students refereeing other students isn’t that great of an idea. Maybe the anonymous poster is right. I don’t know - Does anyone have any POSITIVE ideas/experiences about High School students refereeing their peers?

To start off - There was a HS student from Huskie Brigade reffing Detroit (sorry, don’t remember his name) - how did he do as a ref?

Our team had a similar situation at Chesapeake. One of our current members was a referee at the event.

There was a match in which a wheel on our robot ended up going over the border of the field. It is simply physically impossible for it to touch the carpet. Anyhow, the referee in question disabled our machine. Because it would be questionable whether this person gave us special curcumstances, I think this person was very conservative with the rulings this ref made.

Thats the unfortunate situation when a current member or previous member of your team refs your regional. All the border line calls, MUST go against your team or everyone else might think their is favoritism.

I don’t know which regional this is refering to, but I know the regional that I was a ref at the past weekend did have other non-scheduled refs since most (all but 2) of the scheduled refs did not show up and thus we had 5 friday and 4 on saturday when FIRST recomends 6 as the bare minimum. I also know that at SBPLI there was only one match where a penalty flag changed the outcome of the match. This was in a quarterfinals match when team 467’s driver had jumped forward and grabbed the joysticks during autonomous mode and there was no robot near that would have cauded the controls to fall down, so a 10pt flag was thrown for the advantage gained. The match ended up being 30 to 20 then and the penalized team lost, but hey, thats how things go and the team agreed with the call after they found out what the penalty flag was given for. Other than that one match all the teams who had flags still won or lost by more than the worth of thier flags, so no outcomes were affected and no one was upset to the extent that I was made aware of.
The rules do say that all ref decissions are final and during the match after any flag was given the head ref asked us what for and then approved them, so all decissions were official. Also, the event staff knew of all the refs who worked with in the past or were working with a team currently since SBPLI is a very home-grown regional once you have been there a few times you get known by the judges/regional dirrectors.
I know we were consistant with our flags throughout the regional and only a few flags were given out at the regional in comparrison with some other regionals I have heard about this year.
At SBPLI all of the refs were being fair, went by the rules and ref notes, and treated every team the same. No single team was given penalties for something another team was not given one for. If things went different at your regional, I’m sorry but all team obligations/pasts are known by the regional dirrectors and is approved of when people are permitted to ref and the rules do say that ref calls are final so you will just have to watch yourselves more carefully in the future. Also, did you ever try consulting this ref that you were having a problem with or go to the regional dirrector about it?
I’m not sure if the general attendants to regionals are aware of this, but after the friday of regionals, all the flags given out and penalties are reviewed by the head of all refs and then he comments to the regional head ref on what to change or if anything needs to be done differently. Controversial rulings are also sent back to him and he gives his final say on what the true ruling will be in the future, but advises the regional to continue ruling things the same way as they have been and to stay consistent through the regional. There are also a set of revised rulings that the event refs get for making decissions that not everyone gets to see and so you could be confused about one of the fine print rules that were in this book that your team did not see. In all, I’m sure the ref’s ruling was fair and untill FIRST makes some ‘mandatory’ requirements for ref positions, things are as stands and you should have resolved the issue before the event started if it was that much of a worry to your team.