Refs bad calls probably prevented us from going to worlds: a rant

Alright so we just got confirmation we won’t be competing at worlds and I need to rant about this SOMEWHERE and see what ppl think from an outsiders perspective. (TLDR at bottom)

Basically while my team is pretty good, we often don’t go to worlds because it’s expensive. Also we don’t qualify every year, but usually get close. This year we decided we would go, and booked everything before the season even started. We were 1 point from qualifying last year and figured we could probably make it this year. Or at least have fun at worlds watching.

Turns out, we were right. Our robot is pretty good (from my totally unbiased pov xD). We were in the running for worlds, but wanted at least 25th to be certain. Last week as we competed at NEDCMP and we kept this in mind. It’s important to note as we went through qualifying matches there were a lot of field errors causing redoes. So they weren’t unexpected at this point.

Then comes elims. During alliance selection we ended up first pick of alliance 7, but we had a really good team. We were pretty confident we could go far, and maybe even beat anyone but A1. Well elims start and A2 beats us. No big deal, both sides played well. We start working our way through the losers bracket and make it to semi finals there. It’s us v A3. We are predicted to win, and figure we should so long as we play well.

Well then comes an amp error and we lose by 4 points. Well it sucks, but we go to the head ref figuring we can get a redo since it’s a known error that’s been happening the entire competition. We get denied. We’re pretty confused at this point, and only get more confused when they allow a redo for the same error just a couple matches later. ???

Anyways we ended the competition ranked 29th, and need 3 teams to decline. 2 do pretty quickly, and the rest accept. So we just wait to see if they all pay. About an hour ago we got confirmation they did. We ended up 2 points behind the last competing team. I can’t say it’s all because of the referee because we might have lost that redo, but if we had won we would be competing. Especially since the team that beat us went on to win the whole thing.

I later learned this referee had been making bad calls all day, ignoring obvious penalties such as contacting the opponents stage in endgame. (I didn’t see this but someone from another team told me and based on what I know I’d believe it). If this was all by accident (a possibility) then first should figure out a way to make sure this doesn’t happen again, perhaps by adding ways to double check things. If its on purpose that’s a lot worse.

TLDR: referee was making bad calls all competition, which probably stopped us from going to worlds when we otherwise would have made it.

Honestly this really sucks since worlds is super special for my team, given we almost never can go even when we do qualify. I personally am a senior, and even if my team makes it and goes next year I can’t go with them, or compete with them. The same goes for other seniors.

I’m curious what others think. Am I wrong to blame the ref here? Was she wrong and should she have allowed a redo? What can FIRST do to prevent this in the future? (Ex: video review)

Even if you don’t answer, thanks for reading my probably somewhat crazy sounding rant.


I’m sorry this happened to you and your team, that sounds like a disappointing end to an otherwise awesome season. 2877 has a fantastic robot this year and would absolutely have made the playoffs at the championship were you to attend.


Done! Thanks. Just wanted to put all the info I got from other people but on second thought your right.


So sorry this happened to you!

We had a somewhat similar experience that eliminated us or put is in a much harder position this year with ref calls that were called later on in the competition, which was pretty heartbreaking, luckily we still qualified so our tickets didn’t got to wast.

Its always a gut punch when a bad ref call prevents something like going to Worlds. In regards to the question, it would mostly depend on the situation, but if they were exactly the same error, then I feel it is egregious that the head ref would replay one but not the other, seems like they are favoring or something similar! I don’t feel you are wrong to blame the ref, but as you mentioned there’s no guarantee you would have gone even if there was a replay, it would just make the gut-punch land a lot easier had you not lost in such a manner.

Hope you can make the best of a bad situation!

As a coach for a athletic sport, I always remind my team: it is never just one call. I’m sure you’re aware, and it hurts not to make it, but there are always many other missed opportunities.

Refs do the best they can with what’s in front of them, and we are grateful to have them.

Tough coming so close and fall short and be on edge of getting in, but much luck in the future and I hope you look back on the experience fondly nonetheless.

I agree with others that giving feedback to FIRST that field fault errors need to be address so this doesn’t happen again or they have a better way to address it.


I’m also sorry this happened to you and 2877. Agreed with @Kevin_Leonard you have a great robot and that alliance was very strong. Definitely had the power to go far.

I’d highly encourage your team’s leaders to send feedback regarding your experience with the refs to the volunteer coordinator for NEDCMP. If you need that person’s information, I’ll be happy to share it with your mentors (we are in a slack together). You should also contact FIRST HQ to give feedback on the Amp scoring flaws, they affected several critical matches.

Unfortunately we tell teams that these are human errors that are part of FIRST, but at a certain point we should not be so quick to accept multiple errors over multiple matches at such an important event for teams.


Hey, we just re-watched the match in our shop, but never noticed any kind of amp error. Could you go into more depth as to what happened?

I think it was an incredibly exciting match and your alliance was super scary. I honestly thought it was over when our intake broke and we had to intake directly from the source.

I’ll have to find it. I was in the pits and was told about the error by my drive team.

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Can you send me the video? I cannot find it on blue alliance or posted anywhere else. (New to chief Delphi so idk if you can). From what I was told the amp jammed

Here’s a link to the Twitch VoD what we believe is the correct timestamp.

We noticed the amp had two stack lights lit, but it looks like the human player is focused on the jam, which delays the start of the amplification period.

Later in the event we were told jams wouldn’t be counted as field faults and that a volunteer would be on standby to free any stuck notes.

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Imma be real the video quality is so terrible on my phone I can’t tell what’s going on. Or if a volunteer actually helped with stuck notes. Was also never told about that policy although it doesn’t feel quite right given it was the fields error and given how important amp timing that’s definitely a big deal. You say you were told later? As in after this match happened? Would be interesting to know when that rule was made/announced. Because as I said it affects points in a big way

Thanks for letting me know though. If that’s the rule then it’s not really fair to blame the ref for that, although if what other teams have told me is correct they may have done other stuff as well.

Your team did very well, glad you ended up winning the event. (even tho still sad about the loss)

We were informed after our replay in finals, which occurred due to the amp losing power.

To me the amp jam described appears to exist at the bottom of the shoot, which human players can clear. Our human player kicks notes out of the way the second they bottom out in the amp. This was added in Team Update 15 13.

This is just my speculation though.


That’s not a foul. So that’s not a bad call.


I was pretty frustrated by a few calls on Richardson prior to eliminations. Felt there was times penalties were called wrong.

But it puts my brain in a little bit of a pickle as I have hard time critiquing these volunteers who willingly give up their whole weekend to help make this sport possible. It stinks but there are always going to be calls we don’t agree with.


I think I worded this wrong, let me copy paste what they told me: “and it seems that she ignored an easily recognizable penalty (contact while climbing in the last 20 seconds)”

“Also in quals the match where a team contacted someone under the stage in endgame was us, we had video and everything but there’s no video review, so nothing was done.”

“[the team was] pinned for like 20s with no penalties”

“The entire playoffs the refs made terrible calls, didn’t even answer questions in the qbox, and generally screwed over several teams”

This was all told to me by other teams, I am not drive team and so couldn’t confirm any of this myself. However given how many other people were saying this I’m going to believe at least some of this is true, although maybe not all.

Also sorry for the misunderstanding, Im not great with words.

Yeah. I generally agree I think it might be just that ref, or maybe a few of them. 99% of the volunteers are amazing, and I’m grateful to all of them, but it only takes one. Especially a ref who has a lot of power over the matches.

I also could believe they just genuinely didn’t notice. If it was on accident then first should just try to ensure this doesn’t happen again, possibly by more training or (as I said and others told me they wanted) video review.

Operator from 88 here, you guys really were an amazing robot this year and when I saw on TBA that you guys were as close as you are only to see you wouldn’t have the chance to go I was very upset. We definitely could have gone all the way with that alliance and it really is upsetting to see such a awesome team not be able to go to an event that they deserve to attend. I wish your team much luck in the future though, you guys are strong like lions.

EDIT: changed some wording around, not trying to criticize anyone or anything; just trying to pay respect to 2877


Man. Y’all have been such a strong team these past three years that I’ve done FRC and such an inspiration as well. Each of your robots strike a perfect balance to maintain minimal complexity while maximizing competitiveness and efficiency. Your cleanliness and speed at the amp this year was so cool to watch. I have zero doubt y’all will qualify next year. Your consistent performance and reliability has made y’all one of the most impressive teams in NE, and it’s only a matter of time until y’all earn what you deserve.

Moreover, while I do not wish to egg on the head ref, I do have a situation that 467 dealt with during quals that was quite unfortunate. In Quals 92, TBA states that we scored 57 points total. 467 videoed ourselves and found we scored 41 points (1 in auto + leave, 2 unamp speaker, 5 amp speaker, 4 amp, and a park). When again looking at TBA, it states 7 amp scores which is accurate, but only 2 unamped and 5 amped shots into speaker during teleop, which we know is far too low because 1100 got some amped and unamped shots into speaker as well. Our scouters reported no score change towards the end of the match, and when we saw the field resetters pull the notes out of the speaker box and amp area, there were visually way more than the counted 16. It was unbelievably clear to us that there was a field issue. However, when we went to question box to share this, we were quickly told that due to a lack of jams in the speaker and no prior issues with the speaker sensing notes, there was no reason to replay the match. It was also frustrating that the notes weren’t counted after the match to provide definitive proof whether or not there was a miscount. The head ref promptly told us that she had to ref the next match (which is fair), but left us with no one to talk to, leaving us emptyhanded and frustrated, and giving us no choice but to leave. While this didn’t really impact our competition that much since we didn’t get selected in playoffs, it wasn’t a very fun situation nonetheless.


I think the only response to this is its time to step up and volunteer. It’s easy to watch from the side, a certain vantage point, be focused on a specific team, with the ability to rewatch the match to eternity at the end… and get every call right every time.

When I was in high school (ya know, in the 1900’s), we thought a terrible call was made an at off-season event. My mentors were all upset, and the event manager basically said ‘ok you are in charge of reffing next year’ and held to it. My mentors all served as refs the next event and, I like to think at least, got mildly humbled being on the other side of the action.

Are there bad volunteers? For sure. Are there bad calls made? 100%. Are their missed calls? All the time. It’s part of the reality of the process. Also, some game designs are worse than others on this.

There are a million decisions along the entire season though that could be attributed to the missed points, not just the last one. I bet there is a close match at a district that someone else thought should have swung their way instead, and your team earned district points for winning it.

We were also 5 district points off of qualifying, and what I said to my team is “this is just proof that every match and decision matters.”


I’m really glad to see that LigerBots made it onto the Worlds list in the end! Good luck in Johnson!!!