FIRST becomes incompetent...

I was very excited going into alliance pickings Saturday. After Friday we were seeded 24th and after seeding rounds were over Saturday we worked our way down to 16th place. Our record was 6 wins and 3 losses; seeds 14 through 16 were tied with a 100 average quarter points and our highest match was a respectable 152. We were pumped and couldn’t wait for the alliance pickings; unfortunately for us our world was turned upside down by the end of the day.

At the Philadelphia regional it appeared as though the referees did not fully understand the rules of the game. Almost as if they did not read all the rules or FIRST failed to properly brief them before the game.

During match 25 we were tipped onto our back in our opponents’ zone. Our opponent team 816 was just feet away from us. They decided that they would finish the job and hit us to fully turn us onto our top. This was the first time we had ever flipped over. They had the opportunity to drive around us, but instead they preferred to not allow us to right ourselves and take us out of the match completely. This is a violation of GM 28, “Tip over another robot.” Team 816 never apologized for flipping us. On a more humorous note, 816 gave out flyers Saturday morning thanking us for our sportsmanship.

During match 50 our opponent team 87 competed in the whole match playing with the incorrect lens color on. This made the match very confusing for our operators and coach. Due to us winning the match, we did not take the matter up with FIRST. Their shenanigans continued in the finals when Team 87 played with the incorrect lens once again. Their opponents ended up winning the match and did not dispute the lens issue.

It was time for the alliance picking to start. In Manchester we were pulled from the 32nd to compete with the great alliance partners of teams 95 and 501. We were almost certain that we were going to the finals…

It was the first round and the 6th pick and team 204 picked 1218 the Cha Bots. Suddenly the video wall showed that we were the 8th seed. It was mathematically impossible for us to be the 8th seed; we went into the picking ranked 16th. 

Unfortunately due to an error by FIRST either software or human we were erroneously placed on the video wall as a top seeded team.

During the course of picking two seeded teams picked two other seeded teams. Instead of immediately shifting a new 7th and 8th seed as it occurred, FIRST waited until the 6th seed selected to tell the crowd who the real 7th and 8th seed was.

Unfortunately our team remained on the video wall during the second round of alliance picking. Obviously, during the second round a seeded team can not pick another seeded team. Throughout the vast majority of this round it would have appeared to alliance captains that we were ineligible to be selected.

FIRST realized their error after the 6th seed of the second round selected. The announcer simply said, “Alliance captains please disregard the video wall, it’s not correct”. Unfortunately, our chance to play in the finals never came.

I was left dumbfounded- due to an error by FIRST our opportunity to compete in the finals was jeopardized. We knew that the finals couldn’t be changed now, we just wanted an apology. Several of my team mates and I talked to a very compassionate head pit administrator. He offered to talk with the two people from FIRST who were at the competition while they were on their lunch break.

Our team waited, the finals passed, and then the awards ceremony passed with no apology. FIRST never owned up to the error and we never received an apology, public or private.

The very same organization that taught me Gracious Professionalism also taught me that they don’t practice what they preach. All we wanted was an apology and we would have felt extremely better about the situation.

It was because of the finals issue and the fact that the FIRST field crew was unable to properly conduct the competition to a level that made it fair for all competitors that I call FIRST incompetent. With out serious intervention we will see more and more veteran teams drop into other competitions or stop mentoring high school students completely.

I can not speak for the team, but I can see that this competition seriously ate at team morale. We will have a lot of explaining to do to our sponsors as to just why we were not in the finals. When you explain to an executive that FIRST dropped the ball and most likely caused our issues he or she may not be thrilled at the idea of funding the team for an additional year. FIRST must consider this in their operation or face the unfortunate death of major corporate or university team sponsorship.

*Originally posted by MikeDubreuil *
**. We will have a lot of explaining to do to our sponsors as to just why we were not in the finals. When you explain to an executive that FIRST dropped the ball and most likely caused our issues he or she may not be thrilled at the idea of funding the team for an additional year. **

If your sponsor wont fund you because you didnt make the finals, thats pretty sad…You probably dont want someone as your sponsor if thats the criteria they have for you to receive their money. They should care about what the team is taking out of the experience, not what place you are getting. They are gettin g the same coverage whether you win, or lose, so why not sponsor you because you missed the finals?

Cory

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No, we are not in jeopardy of losing our sponsorship. I was just using that as an example of what could happen to a team. Although we will still have a lot of explaining to do.

*Originally posted by MikeDubreuil *
**At the Philadelphia regional it appeared as though the referees did not fully understand the rules of the game. Almost as if they did not read all the rules or FIRST failed to properly brief them before the game.

During match 25 we were tipped onto our back in our opponents’ zone. Our opponent team 816 was just feet away from us. They decided that they would finish the job and hit us to fully turn us onto our top. This was the first time we had ever flipped over. They had the opportunity to drive around us, but instead they preferred to not allow us to right ourselves and take us out of the match completely. This is a violation of GM 28, “Tip over another robot.” Team 816 never apologized for flipping us. On a more humorous note, 816 gave out flyers Saturday morning thanking us for our sportsmanship.**

If you were already tipped then how can it be a violation of the rule?

During match 50 our opponent team 87 competed in the whole match playing with the incorrect lens color on. This made the match very confusing for our operators and coach. Due to us winning the match, we did not take the matter up with FIRST. Their shenanigans continued in the finals when Team 87 played with the incorrect lens once again. Their opponents ended up winning the match and did not dispute the lens issue.

Team 87 was warned both times. Minor penalties do not carry over from match to match, so nothing could be done. I did tell them that if it happened again they would be DQ’d.

I think several of you are missing the point…
The main topic of that post was what happened to us in the finals.

Tipping-
We were on our back, not our top. When you watch the video, their action looks very deliberate. If it was ACCIDENTAL they would have APOLOGIZED.

Team 87’s light-
I don’t care about warnings… A FIRST official should have realised the wrong light and made them change it. In the finals it had more to do with their laziness, they had one lens on top of the other and the correct lens popped off revealing the incorrect one.

*Originally posted by MikeDubreuil *
**It was the first round and the 6th pick and team 204 picked 1218 the Cha Bots. Suddenly the video wall showed that we were the 8th seed. It was mathematically impossible for us to be the 8th seed; we went into the picking ranked 16th.

Unfortunately due to an error by FIRST either software or human we were erroneously placed on the video wall as a top seeded team.
**

Here’s what happened, I think. . . and keep in mind that I wasn’t there and this is just speculation based on what I know about how events are run.

Clearly, there was an error that caused your team to appear as the 8th seed.

FIRST can freeze any frame to the large display using the A/V equipment provided by the venue. They do this often, but particularly when the scoring computer is being used to input scores from the referees. It makes for a cleaner show by hiding all of the ‘behind-the-scenes’ stuff from the audience. When the score has been input, the screen is unfrozen and the new display shows the match score. You’ve seen this happen dozens of times.

What I suspect happened is that FIRST froze the last safe frame, displaying your team as the 8th seed alliance, while they worked on fixing the problem. They were probably aware of their ‘error’ all along, and they were doing everything they could to fix it.

Beyond that, I would give teams a little more credit, at least, and expect that they could figure out what was going on. I don’t think it’s fair to blame FIRST entirely, if at all, because you weren’t picked as an alliance partner. It happens, and I think it’s pretty clear that FIRST did everything they could to give the best show possible.

What I suspect happened is that FIRST froze the last safe frame, displaying your team as the 8th seed alliance, while they worked on fixing the problem. They were probably aware of their ‘error’ all along, and they were doing everything they could to fix it.

This frame wasn’t frozen for a minute- it was frozen like that for almost 10. FIRST should have made an anouncement earlier. They also should have said, “Allaince captains for you information Team 125 is not the 8th seed as the video wall suggests and are able to be picked.”

I don’t think that they would have said anything at all if we weren’t screaming “look at the screen.” It wasn’t until our coach ran up to the judge panel and screamed out to the announcer, “the screen is wrong,” that the announcer said anything.

My biggest issue is that FIRST never aplogized for their error.

It appears there were many small problems during your day that made you upset. The tipping thing sounds ungracious from your POV but I won’t judge without actually seeing it.

As for finals, I’ve watches dozens of selections and been part of a few as well. The problem with selection is most teams have a list of only a few teams. This list is almost entirely used up by the end of the first round of selection. Then its more of a “price is right” shouting match. Often the second round teams end up getting called because someone on the team reps shouted them the number or he just heard the crowd yelling a number. The second round is normally chaos especially for the lower alliances. Getting chosen is not necessarily a mark of not being good its because you were forgetten.

Teams have to stand out in competition through team spirit or a crazy/amazing bot. An average bot with average scores can easily be forgotten by selection time. Sorry about your experience and good luck in finals.

They are just volunteers, and people make mistakes…

Hate to burst your bubble man, but life is not perfect. I’m sorry to hear you all could lose your sponsership, but it is part of FIRST. In 97 we lost our sponsor and sure it upset us, but we figured a way to keep going and found a new sponsor. People at UCF had their robots rained on, and FIRST did not apologize for that. Did they throw up their hands and give up? no they figure a way to get through it. People are allowed to volunteer, and if you saw it as being so wrong why weren’t you up there VOLUNTEERING, and trying to correct it?

Sorry to hear you had such a bad time and all, but part of this competition is to give life experience (both good and bad). I hope you realize this (as I had to) that sometimes everything just doesn’t go your way. Some teams don’t even get to go to nationals this year, which isn’t fair but that is part of this program. Hopefully you will win big in Houston and everything will be great.

*Originally posted by MikeDubreuil *
**This frame wasn’t frozen for a minute- it was frozen like that for almost 10. **

So, the error took 10 minutes to sort out, not 1.

Please guys… we’re not losing our sponsorship.

I appreciate th kind words but I think you are missing the gracious professionalism. We asked FIRST for an apology, and they denied us that. I feel more hurt that we didn’t get an apology then anything else.

I just don’t understand why they couldn’t say the simple words, “We’re sorry about the video issue, and we apologize if that may have jeopardized your chances in the finals.”

If they said that I would be fine; but they did not. They showed me that they don’t have any gracious professionalism at all.

You see, when a team flips another team, even a not-their-fault accidental situation, they go to that other team and say, “Hey I’m sorry man, I didn’t do it on purpose.” That member of that team has gracious professionalism.

When FIRST commits a major error they never take responsibility for it. Some of you may already know the murky situation that happened at kick off. Apparently during the human demonstration of the game the stacks were counted incorrectly, or not how they said they were in the rules. When asked to admit that the kickoff showed the incorrect method of scoring FIRST had no responce.

Anyway, all we wanted was for FIRST to gracious and professionally say that they apologize and we would have been fine. No apology means that they don’t really care if this 5 year veteran team competes at all. It’s just a very sad situation.

So, the error took 10 minutes to sort out, not 1.

Approximately, Yes.

The error started after the 6th pick of the first round and they admited the screen was incorrect after the 6th pick of round two.

Mike,
I saw you guys at BAE, and I like your robot, but did you ever think that maybe you just didn’t get chosen?

I mean… you and I both know that 125 should have had a place in the finals, but things don’t always (often) happen the way they should. Weird things occur during picking. It seems that sometimes teams are just… bad at picking. Your seeded number often does not affect whether you got picked. I wasn’t there, I can’t possibly understand what happened… however, I dont think your not getting picked is something FIRST should appolagize for.

What should they have said? “Pick 125… no one has yet picked 125… someone please pick 125”

How can you completely blame this on FIRST?

I can’t understand how… just because you appeared on the big screen, this would cause other teams to pass you by. FIRST made an error yes. It happens.

As for your complaints about the reffing…
It is difficult to call an intentional flip. In general, most flips are considered legal, unless a team goes out of their way to maliciously lift up on another robot.

Another note:
It was made very clear to me (at the BAE ref meeting) that once a robot is on it’s back… or side… or whatever (incapacitated). That robot is fair game. Other robots can push you around, move you out of the way, whatever. It’s all legal.
If you were already down… the additional hit was completely in the right. From what you described I can’t see anything malicious that occurred. Team 816 appears completely in the right. The referee calls made during the event are FINAL.

Was it that difficult for your driver to remember which robot was on which alliance, just because of a light color? Again, this seems like a simple harmless mistake. Would it be better to hold up matches for 5 minutes while they go back to their pit and switch lights? Maybe their other cover was broken? There are a thousand reasons for what happened. Having the wrong color on isn’t a terrible offense.

I find it disturbing that you would come to a public forum, and slander several other teams, and FIRST itself. None of the charges you have made seem particularly dire, or even noteworthy.

This stuff happens. FIRST does it’s best to provide everyone with a positive, fair experience. It does not always succeed. There have been mistakes made in the past, there will be mistakes made in the future, but FIRST is trying it’s best to fix things. Slandering the refferees for bad calls, and not knowing the rules (which is something you have not elaborated on… I’ve heard nothing but praise for the Philly refs) is not necessary. These refs are volunteers who are putting in their time to make this a good experience for YOU. If you disagreed with a call made, or the way a rule was being called, you should have approached the head-ref and let him know of your concerns. This is the way things are done. Not by complaining in a public forum, where the head-ref from the event is unable to defend him/herself.

If you have a problem with something at competition, you approach the other team/ref AT COMPETITON and talk things out. This is how it is, and has been done.

I sympathize with what happened to you, but not with the way it was presented here.

Bagh, lately there are too many threads like this one.

Mike,
I saw you guys at BAE, and I like your robot, but did you ever think that maybe you just didn’t get chosen?

No, we won our first three matches on Saturday putting on a very good show. There is also an unconfirmed rumor that if an alliance captian didn’t see us on the video wall he would have chosen us. Maybe people will come out of the wood work stating this, I don’t know.

What should they have said? “Pick 125… no one has yet picked 125… someone please pick 125”

Because during the entire second round it would have appeared to an alliance captain that we were inelligible to be selected.

I find it disturbing that you would come to a public forum, and slander several other teams, and FIRST itself. None of the charges you have made seem particularly dire, or even noteworthy.

To be honest, it’s not about the refs. I really don’t care that 816 wasn’t DQed for hitting us. Am I slandering 816 and 87? Maybe (it was a second time for 87 though, at least the third time would have been a DQ). However, my main issue is not with the refs or another team.

I’m going to re-iterate again- the main issue was with FIRST. Where was the apology?

We had a problem at the Canadian regional too. One match, our robot light turned on in auto/human control but nothing responded. We flipped switches and tried driving but nothing responded. The OI flashed that it had a valid signal and was not diabled, but nothing happened. After the match, we immediately tested out the robot. Nothing was wrong with it or programming. Next match, with nothing changed, the robot ran fine. Next match, the robot ran fine. Nothing was messed up. The only conclusion we had was that FIRST had a problem and failed to find it.

*Originally posted by MikeDubreuil *
**I’m going to re-iterate again- the main issue was with FIRST. Where was the apology? **

What would it sound like?

“We’re sorry we provided you with this amazing experience, and organized this incredible competition, and this incredible event for you to participate in. We apologize for providing you an opportunity you cannot find anywhere else. We’re sorry we only have a small staff, and are a not for profit organization. We’re sorry we only have volunteers working for us, and not paid proffesionals. We’re sorry mistakes were made, that we did our best to fix, and we’ll try better next time.”

Maybe your just looking for that last part… but I think you should take the other parts into consideration before you ** DEMAND** an apology.

“We’re sorry we provided you with this amazing experience, and organized this incredible competition, and this incredible event for you to participate in. We apologize for providing you an opportunity you cannot find anywhere else. We’re sorry we only have a small staff, and are a not for profit organization. We’re sorry we only have volunteers working for us, and not paid proffesionals. We’re sorry mistakes were made, that we did our best to fix, and we’ll try better next time.”

I’m not going to dignify this with a responce. Just read the whole thread and try to put yourself into our position.

*Originally posted by MikeDubreuil *
**I’m not going to dignify this with a responce. Just read the whole thread and try to put yourself into our position. **

Read the rest of MY post, and put yourself into FIRST’s position.

Believe me… I sympathize with you and what happened. I understand your position. I believe I said so above… but I still don’t agree with much of what you said. I’m just trying to make a point, which apparently isn’t working.

Read the rest of MY post, and put yourself into FIRST’s position.

I agree, FIRST is a great experience. However, I have beein doing this for 4 years and two teams and have never seen FIRST make an error such as this. The experience goes sour when an error FIRST caused may have jeopardized your chances in the final.

Then think of the irony, the same people that taught us gracious professionalism can’t apologize for their own mistakes.

*Originally posted by MikeDubreuil *
**I’m not going to dignify this with a responce. Just read the whole thread and try to put yourself into our position. **

You just did.

You don’t deserve an apology. You’re a victim of circumstance and you’ll just need to learn to deal with that.

What’s particularly disheartening is to see that you’re a college student – someone who should be setting an example to their students by acting and reacting with professionalism and respect. Your job is to provide your students with the same amazing experience that you probably experienced while you were in high school. This isn’t about you or your robot. It’s about your students.

You’re complaining about something that’s so far removed from being even remotely important that you sound childish. Being picked by an alliance is an honor, not a privilege, and it’s not even terribly important. Your emphasis on this – and worse, your emphasis on receiving an apology for this is as good an example as any of all the perceived problems with gracious professionalism you listed previously.

You didn’t get an apology at Philadelphia and you’re not going to get one here, or from FIRST. Step outside the situation and re-examine what is really important. Was your students’ experience any less valuable because of this error? Was it a waste of your time?

I hope not.