Question on Referee / Scoring / Questioning Process

We recently completed our competition season (and had a great time!) - but had some questions regarding how reffing is typically handled, specifically regarding scoring and the questioning process. I’m not really looking for what the process “should be”, I’m trying to understand what it is today and how decisions are really made. Ideally I’d like input from refs, and field volunteers.

It was confusing to me as a first time drive coach and mentor and I want to know how to best guide my team in handling these situations. If you do make “should be” comments - let’s all keep them constructive. I know I appreciate the hard work all of the refs, judges, and volunteers and know it’s not an easy job.

Specifically, if a match is replayed or re-scored due to a field fault or foul, is there any specific criteria needed to allow that re-match or re-scoring? Or is it entirely subjective? If it is subjective, who makes that decision: the head ref, the team of refs, the field crew?

Situation 1: I recall one situation where a field part fell off and “pinned” a robot for a short time. Should that have been a rematch or not? In either case, what is an appropriate response to a questioning student?

Situation 2: Pedestal light times (I know there has been a lot of conversation on this). What criteria has been used to call rematches? Is there some indicator on the field system that something didn’t work right? I’ve heard teams say their pedestals didn’t light quickly enough, and I’ve also heard counter arguments that the ball hadn’t completely passed the plane of the goal slot, which isn’t visible by the team waiting for the ball usually. What specific events would allow a ref to call a rematch based on only that much information?

Situation 3: A series of fouls are noted by teams of both alliances during a game. The score is displayed with fouls (but which specific foul was not noted during announcement) and one team goes back later to question it. The score was changed at some even later time (after a few matches) but with no announcement to that fact. The team is only informed via FRCSpyder and then goes to question it, where they are informed that they missed the allotted time to question the ruling.
I would have expected the team could see a copy of a scoring sheet with a determination of what specific foul was called, and what was contested and why it was changed (but were only provided with final scores).
Further, in talking to the teams on both alliances, each team had a different specific foul that they thought was scored and then retracted. In this situation we certainly left confused, with 3 different possibilities but no one knew for certain.

So, what is the best way to handle these situations?

Thank you all for your help and guidance! :slight_smile:

Good questions. (Once more unto the breach:

)

: I recall one situation where a field part fell off and “pinned” a robot for a short time. Should that have been a rematch or not? In either case, what is an appropriate response to a questioning student?This depends on whether the head ref (with whatever input they solicit) determines it affected the outcome of the match. If the score was 5-350 and ‘short’ means short, probably not. If they lost by 1 and were pinned in the process of a last-second truss shot, that’s different.

: Pedestal light times (I know there has been a lot of conversation on this). What criteria has been used to call rematches? Is there some indicator on the field system that something didn’t work right? I’ve heard teams say their pedestals didn’t light quickly enough, and I’ve also heard counter arguments that the ball hadn’t completely passed the plane of the goal slot, which isn’t visible by the team waiting for the ball usually. What specific events would allow a ref to call a rematch based on only that much information?Ugh. I’ll let someone on the software side talk about indicators, but at least in some cases the answer is no. Everything is manual, so if a ref doesn’t hit end cycle quickly, the field has no way of knowing that the pedestal even should be lit up. Other root causes may have different indicators. Again, it’s an ‘outcome of the match’ situation. These were particularly bad in early weeks, and ‘delay length for replay’, even in similar scoring matches, varies between events. (We had a 30+ sec one, lost by 4, without a replay.:() Apparently some events thought 9 seconds consistently was reasonable, whereas most coaches are well into the glass-banging stage by then.

: A series of fouls are noted by teams of both alliances during a game. The score is displayed with fouls (but which specific foul was not noted during announcement) and one team goes back later to question it. The score was changed at some even later time (after a few matches) but with no announcement to that fact. The team is only informed via FRCSpyder and then goes to question it, where they are informed that they missed the allotted time to question the ruling.
I would have expected the team could see a copy of a scoring sheet with a determination of what specific foul was called, and what was contested and why it was changed (but were only provided with final scores).
Further, in talking to the teams on both alliances, each team had a different specific foul that they thought was scored and then retracted. In this situation we certainly left confused, with 3 different possibilities but no one knew for certain.This is abnormal. Events usually seem good about announcing score changes, and most tech fouls at least come with rule number announcements. Were it me, I’d have my calmest student in the question box just ask what the final decision was (extrapolate backwards), rather than opening with questioning the ruling itself. Honestly though, sometimes you just have to pick your battles. If it’s an important match–e.g. 1st seed’s on the line–be kind but diligent. If not, I personally try not to over-question box before elims. Coaches are human, but so are refs. (Which leaves folks like me with sometimes head-spinning split personas.)

Actually, there is no ‘scoring sheet’, and the scoring software doesn’t note [EDIT: regular (as mentioned, techs are better tracked and typically announced)] foul rule numbers, just foul points. It’s [regular fouls] all in the referees’ heads, which is why there’s a practical time limit. Match situations, especially for common fouls, tend to blur together quickly.[/quote]

I reffed the MAR Clifton district in Week 3 (with Siri!), but I’m not a head ref, so I don’t have all the answers. I will do my best, however, to give you insight into how we made our decisions to the best of my knowledge.

To start, in addition to the rule that Siri mentions, in the FRC Referee Training module (which all refs must complete to be allowed to referee an event), there is a section marked Tournament Rules that clearly states: “The Head Referee has the Ultimate authority in the Arena, but may use input from Game Designers, FIRST Personnel, and Technical Staff. The viewing of recorded replay is not allowed at any time.”

So ultimately, the decision comes down to the head ref, although (s)he frequently asks for input from other volunteers on the field.

For me, replaying this match would depend on a few factors:

[ol]
[li]What caused the field element to fall off (e.g. if it was a gate, did the team that got trapped drive into it themselves?)? Most teams know that gates especially can become easily dislodged from the field perimeter.[*]How long was that team trapped by that element (you said a short pin, but if I had counted it as a ref, would it have been less than or more than 5 seconds?)[/li][li]Was the team that got trapped the same team that caused the field element to break? (e.g. Did Team A knock off the gate, and Team B got stuck on it?)[/li][li]Did the field debris effect the outcome of the match? Now, this one is tough, because it can be subjective – if that team didn’t have the ball, but was maybe playing defense against an opponent trying to score, they might have stopped the score, but there’s no way to really know that for sure. However, if the team that got stuck was no where near either ball, then it might be a “non-issue.” (I say non-issue lightly here, because it’s of course still unfortunate for the team that’s stuck.)[/li][/ol]

In Clifton we had a match where Team A knocked a gate off of the wall, and Team B got stuck on it so badly a) the hang pieces of the gate were mutilated and needed to be reshaped to go back on the bar for the next match and b) tore up the underside of that team’s robot. All of the referees discussed with the head ref what had happened, what each of us had seen (some of us were closer to others, saw the contact that pushed Team B onto the gate, etc.), and I believe that we ultimately decided that, as unfortunate as it was, the gate falling into the field was considered field debris, and there was no replay.

Generally speaking, pieces of the field (zip ties, gates, clear plastic panels, etc.) that come off during a match are considered field debris, and teams must navigate around them/continue the match with said pieces on the field (the same way that a team would have to keep playing if pieces of other robots are scattered on the field). I couldn’t find a definition anywhere for field debris (I checked the manual and the ref training module I have access to), but there may be more information in the head referee manual/training module.

However, if the field debris is affecting gameplay (e.g. last year during an off-season part of the colored HDPE surrounding the goals fell off and at least partially covered one of the goals), teams are unable to score or traverse the field normally, that is typically declared a field fault. Usually when something like this happens, the match is stopped in the middle, teams are asked to reset their robots, the field fault is fixed, and the match is replayed immediately.

I would explain to your students that pieces of the field should be treated in the same way that pieces of robot are treated during a match – try your best to avoid them, but know that getting stuck/trapped on them will most likely not result in a replay. Field debris happens, and it is important to design your robot, and train your drive team to know how to avoid getting stuck because of it.

As far as we know, the decision to replay is entirely subjective (and most head refs will choose not to replay because of a delay in the pedestal light). Like Siri said, the lighting is manual – the pedestal lights after a referee has scored the ball on his PDA and hit the submit button OR after a dead ball has been marked by the head ref on his PDA. And unfortunately there is nothing to tell the field system when a pedestal should be lit but isn’t (except for a lot of yelling by the volunteers and teams on the field to correct it).

There can be a number of factors for why this is delayed:

[list=2]
[li]The referee may have missed the score watching another section of the field (I know it sounds like that should never happen, but there is an enormous amount of responsibilities for this year’s refs, and sometimes they miss things).[/li][li]One referee’s response time may be slower than another’s (e.g. Ref A is scoring Blue, he takes 1/4 of a second to hit submit, whereas Ref B is scoring Red and he takes 1/2 of a second to hit submit)[/li][li]The situation you described where the referee is waiting for the ball to have fully passed through the plane. This does happen, but in my experience not very frequently[/li][li]The referee attempts to submit the score but the PDA doesn’t update. This can happen for a number of reasons – the ref attempted to hit submit but forgot to mark where the goal was scored, the undo button is stuck “on” and the ref cannot select the score and hit submit, the ref accidentally marks the wrong goal for the score, and must undo, reselect the correct goal and then hit submit.[/li][li]We have also noticed that there is a slight lag in response time after the referee hits submit before the pedestal lights (presumably because the field is receiving the score and THEN lighting the pedestal).[/li][li]The head referee does not immediately notice the dead ball on the field – this one happens a lot, and our head referee noted during one of our discussions that some delay should be expected in this circumstance (the head ref has the hardest job, after all, and is not always in front of the pedestal or may be assessing another problem)[/list][/li]
Unfortunately, there is also no fixed number of seconds (as far as I know) for when a match will be replayed because of lag. We had a long discussion at Clifton about a pedestal not being lit for more than 20 seconds (because of referee error), and though several refs believed that the outcome of the match was significantly affected, the head referee mentioned that teams should be prepared to expect a delay. The match I’m discussing was replayed, but not because of the pedestal (there was another field error).

I think it is unlikely to see any matches replayed because of a delayed pedestal light, and will stay that way unless the GDC puts out an update with a specified “reasonable” delay time (i.e. the maximum number of seconds a pedestal can remain incorrectly unlit).

I am very surprised to hear that this situation may happen at all – typically the head referee either announces himself what the penalties were, and later if the score is adjusted why, or informs the Game Announcer who lets the audience know what penalties were assessed/what was changed.

I am also surprised to hear that the team was not allowed to ask what the call was (especially as they weren’t asking for it to be overturned, just for more information). Many head referees keep a notebook of penalties that were assessed from match to match specifically to handle these kinds of questions. But like Siri mentioned, if they do not keep a notebook, the field system only marks that there was a penalty, not what it was, and matches do blur together very quickly.

I don’t have any better advice for you on this situation than what Siri already advised – pick your battles, simply ask what the outcome was, and remember to be calm and polite regardless of what the head ref ultimately tells you.

In addition, if penalties and updated scores are not being clearly explained at your events, you can also make a recommendation to your regional director to correct the problem moving forward.

I can speak a bit about replays in general terms. This is my second season as a head ref.

  • fouls don’t result in replays. Instead, they result in penalties ranging from a simple foul to a red card for the entire alliance depending on the particular rule and how it was broken.

  • the head ref is the one who determines whether an arena fault has occurred. In practice, for many arena faults (e.g. control system issues), the FTA will be the one to identify the problem. When everyone’s working well together, the head ref’s “determination” might be a quick nod of confirmation to the FTA or scorekeeper who has their finger on the shutdown button ready to press it.

Also of note, most head refs will track all technical fouls called, which team they were against, what rule they were for, and if they have room, what happened. However, like has been said previously, all refs are human. There is a reason FIRST does not allow regular fouls to be questioned. They are far too numerous and happen too fast to note down every one.

Actually, that restriction was removed for this year. Rule T13 allows questioning of rulings or scores in general.

Of course, the ability to ask a question doesn’t guarantee an answer. As you pointed out, refs are human and there’s a lot going on in the game.

The question I have is I was at the regional and during the quarterfinals the score went us saying the 2nd seed won. Then for 15 minutes they didn’t start the next match as the 7th seed go to argue the score ( it was wether a shot counted or not.) we weren’t given a chance to argue a possible foul they had said this is the final score. Then we also noticed one of the members of the opposing alliances bumpers were illegal. They didn’t have pool noodles. Would that count as disqualification or cause for a replay because they had illegal parts on the robot?

Then we also noticed one of the members of the opposing alliances bumpers were illegal. They didn’t have pool noodles. Would that count as disqualification or cause for a replay because they had illegal parts on the robot?

I don’t know if it would invalidate a previously played match or not. Probably would be the head referee’s call. Pointed out the referee it should prevent them from playing another match until corrected. Assuming the bumpers are actually illegal.

The penalty for illegal bumpers is Disabled, not a rematch. If you suspected that, you should have raised the issue immediately. If you noticed it after the match, then it could result in re-inspection of the robot. The only exception is if the team did something that would have required re-inspection. Then they could have been disqualified for failing to have an inspected robot. I don’t think fixing a bumper requires a re-inspection.

Re-scoring does happen. I remember an announcement that an assist was missed and added to the score. I am guessing the ref hit submit before the assist was registered.

Balls are not necessarily scored immediately. If there is a chance the ball can bounce/roll out, then it will be delayed (thus delaying the pedestal light)

At the WI Regional, there were rematches for pedestal light failures. I am guessing that it is a light failure, and not a Ref caused delay. I will be Refing at the Midwest Regional. When I am the ball judge, I’ll keep an eye out for when I hit submit to when they take the ball to be inbounded.

If you notice a team that you are playing has illegal bumpers, in my opinion, the gracious way to deal with it is to go to the team and help them make the bumpers legal after the match.

I would never counsel my team to go and question the legality of another team to the referees or the inspectors. If you believe that they have an issue and it somehow is giving them an unfair advantage on the field, if you have talked to the team first you “might” go to the inspector.

The purpose of the question box is to ask questions about what happened on the field so that you can understand why a decision was made in a particular way. Use this opportunity wisely.

Of course, this is only my opinion and you are certainly welcome to do whatever you feel is right for your team.