In our most recent events, we saw an increase in the issuance of cards at some events as a result of G20, the “Stay out of other robots” rule, being called. We do not want the issuance of cards to be a common occurrence at events. The intent of the cards in FIRST Robotics Competition is to assign serious consequences for certain behaviors, and when we ask our Head Referees to issue cards, it is one of the most difficult things for them to do.
I sincerely apologize to all the teams who had a poor experience because of this issue. Our Head Referees were provided additional guidance last week about G20, in the hope of seeing reduced robot damage. However, we made a mistake in this guidance, and the pendulum swung too far in the other direction. After we realized what was happening, we formulated and released new guidance Saturday at approximately Noon Eastern. While we dislike making changes like this mid-event, we did not want to enter playoffs operating under guidance that made cards, which in playoffs apply to entire alliances rather than individual teams, easier to receive than intended.
As in any other contact sport, rules about how much contact is too much will never be completely black and white. While we want to allow for a robust defensive strategy this season, if teams wish to take that approach, we don’t want to see robots damaged as a result. Finding the right balance has been a challenge.
We have carefully reviewed G20 and will be including a change to the rule’s blue box in today’s Team Update. We believe the update appropriately reflects where we stand on this issue and provides more useful information to the community. For additional information, teams may search the official Q&A system. Several questions have been answered recently about G20. All are consistent with the guidance that Head Referees are being provided. Longer term, we will also be reviewing our communication process with referees to help ensure clarity and consistency.
I’m very sorry again for this issue. We are working hard not to let this happen again.