PSA: Bumpers and Climbing

Yesterday, March 31st, my team competed in the Oklahoma City Regional and lost a match because of this piece of thread:

Our team had reversible bumpers that utilized Velcro. This piece of thread was attached to said Velcro and easily removed after the match ended. This piece of thread was the only part below the climbing line at the end of the match, and we did not receive credit for the climb. Make sure that you thoroughly check your bumpers before each match and attempt to avoid anything on the field that may stick to them, since you may not receive credit for a full climb. We hope that no other team will be affected by this possible ruling, but want to make sure that teams are aware of this possibility.

The officials at that event must have Eagle eyes.:ahh: :frowning:

No bumper color indeterminate foul? Got off easy

That’s ridiculous, especially considering its size. I’d be hard-pressed to come up with a scenario in which that piece of fabric might have impacted the game in any way or affected the outcome.

I’m sure your team was really inspired by that call.


Absurdity at its finest.

but the refs are just enforcing the rules !!! they’re volunteers, how about you volunteer to ref??

Not to rant about this, the refs are very much appreciated for the hard work they put into making competitions what they are.
But. What Alex didn’t tell you is that this piece of string prevented us from making it into the 8th seed and being an alliance captain…
So you can imagine my teams heartbreak at this call.
As a coach, it’s difficult to see all of the hard work your students put in over the course of a season and two regionals go up in smoke because of a pretty nit-picky call about a nearly invisible piece of fabric.

My students handled this situation with a great attitude and I’m really proud of all of them for how they dealt with this.
I hope no other teams find themselves in a similar situation.

I feel for your team, and thanks for the heads up.
All teams need to check for things like this before every match.

There was a ruling about drive team “button” under a tote back in 2015 at the UNH district event (see THIS THREAD) where they didn’t count that stack of totes. On that particular match it wouldn’t have mattered on the outcome of the match, but many people couldn’t believe it was called. Rules are rules and unfortunately sometimes they can bite you. As others said, if you make exceptions then the rules are meaningless.

One scenario I could come up with is where the thread dangles below the bumper while the robot is climbing which could prevent the climb from being registered. That seems like it would impact the game and potentially cause the team to lose, affecting the outcome.

What do you mean by prevent the climb from being registered? The climbs are judged by human referees, so this was a referee call, not an automated scoring issue.

Unfortunately, this call has precedence. My team’s rookie year we lost in the semifinals due to a piece of tape dangling off our alliance partner’s bumpers (this was when bumpers were optional!).

Yes, it sucks. But the rules are the rules… if you start bending one rule, what stops you from bending them all? What value do the rules have if we don’t enforce them? The rule states “bumpers fully above…”. If you give an exception for a single string, what about 2? Or 3? or 15? How do you draw the line between “Well, we can ignore that” and “this is now too much”?

As we all know rules are rules . I believe everyone understands that.

As for OP’s team losing out on #8 Captain slot that stinks, OP I do want you to think about the #8 Captain though and realize they are there because your bumper material was below the bricks in that match at T=0… part of the game regardless of how hard it was to see it was visible and part of the bumper material of your bot. Which you took a photo of yourself.

The other aspect of it, puting my scouting hat on for a sec. We as scouts do not care at all about your rank nor would we care about a string hanging down in one game . Scouts look for those that can help and if we needed to cheescake that string by cutting it and you help us you are on our list. In a weird way as long as you got selected (which you ended up on Alliance 4 ), perhaps improved your elimination chances by being available to all captains like Captain 4.

Your kids learned a valuable lesson about rules …in a game. They will take that with them which is good and learn from it.

Remember, these calls happen to all teams if they occur and are in the rulebook. The kids get it.

It’s part of the challenge!


Not everything is a slippery slope. A vanilla G07 foul would have been fine here.

So at what point does it go from G07 to not getting credit for a climb in your mind? Is it based on the length of the string? The number of strings hanging down? What if the flap on reversible bumpers comes off and is hanging down a couple of inches?

When the rules state “bumpers fully above” and you start making allowances for any part of the bumper that’s not fully above, even a string, you then need to define where the boundary is. Aside from people saying we shouldn’t count a string like this, I haven’t seen anyone actually say where they would draw that line.

If you don’t like the way rules are interpreted, you could go and make your own robotics challenge and then allow people to break the rules.

Let me ask you a question, how much material (exactly) would you allow to not be over the line and still call it a climb? and what about 1 thread more? See, it’s a slippery slope when you start saying “well, that’s close enough”

I did this my freshman year (2005) with a zip tie. I left one zip tie that brushed the floor too long and we didn’t get credit for the end game points because that lone zip tie was sticking out and touching the ground outside of the zone. Live and learn. Didn’t make that mistake again. And I bet that you/your team won’t either.

Thank you for posting a PSA to remind everyone to check on the little things.

No need for a moral panic fellas. We don’t have to draw the line, R24 draws the line for us. As soon as an element of BUMPER leaves the BUMPER ZONE, it’s no longer a BUMPER and instead is a piece of ROBOT. You could call a bunch of different fouls, but it doesn’t invalidate the climb.

R24 is “in reference to the ROBOT standing normally on a flat floor”. That particular string would be in compliance. If there’s a game rule that indicates what happens when the BUMPER leaves the BUMPER ZONE during the course of gameplay that might be the case, but I’m not aware of any robot rules that support your assertion.

When an element of the BUMPER leaves the BUMPER ZONE, it is still a BUMPER. All that has happened is it fails R24 (an inspection item, not an onfield penalty)