Timeout Ruling Discussion

I think that the timeout of 5 minutes needs to be enforced more strictly. At Pontiac’s Compition Team the chapions used all of thier timeout minutes in the semifinal match. Then they got to use an extra 2 mintutes to fix their robot. This decided the semifinal match and the chapionship match. I can admit that their robot can do some damage to score but it can take a lot of damage from any other robot. The bottem line is the timeout rule needs to be enforced.

To everyone concerned about how timeout’s were handled at the CDI:

We strive to make the competition as fair as possible. I know that many folks, including myself, were concerned about the way timeouts were handled in the elimination tournament.

This was a very tough call. It was a judgement call that the people on the field had to make.

On one hand, black is black; white is white; a rule is a rule; and that is that. On the other hand, the real spirit of the rule is to prevent the tournament from being delayed indefinitely by a very complicated repair that was most likely not going to work etc… The spirit of the rule is not to try to disqualify robots that are seconds from being repaired. Believe me, we WANT teams to compete. That is the reason for entire event.

In the case at hand, the referees made the call that the robot was within seconds of actually being fixed and that the best interests of the tournament would be served if they suspended the rigid requirements of the rules in favor of allowing the robots to compete.

Again, it was a tough call. In fact, had I been in the striped shirts, I think I would have been likely to make a different call. But, in the end, the Official Rules say that the rulings of the referees are final and not necessarily consistent. (really, look it up :wink:

By the way, this is not the only tough call that was made during the day, and not just by referees. The inspectors had similar difficulties balancing similar issues when inspecting the robots. I suppose that if you or I reviewed every decision they made we would have found many cases where robots passed inspection that we would have forced back to the drawing board. Similarly, I am sure that some robots were sent away be re-designed that you or I would have passed.

Here is the bottom line: the CDI is a big undertaking. It cannot be pulled off without delegation of authority. The good thing is that the competition gets to be hosted at all. The bad thing is that total consistency becomes impossible.

We worked hard to try to host the best event possible. Clearly, we have room to improve in areas. We will try to do better in the future. I hope that you will understand.

Finally, even in light of the issue you bring up, I hope you will agree that, taken in total, the 2001 Chief Delphi Invitational was a great success. I hope to see you there in the thick of things at CDI 2002. Feel free to call me if you would like to discuss this further (248.655.8423)


Joe J.

Thanks Joe Johnson for making that a bit clearer. I was just mad, because that team won after that incidint. The rules do say that. The officials made the call, but I would have made a different call. The reason I made this reply was that they had to be forced off the field. They did not even know if the robot was going to work. They probably thought it was still broken. I am also part of a rookie team and I do not know exactly how the compition goes. Thanks for clearing things up

Well, its been a few days and I have delayed a response regarding the incident that we have recieved a few comments about. For one, I’ve been very busy at work and at home in preperation for Thanksgiving - and 2nd, I wanted to think about “How I wanted to respond”. In that past during my younger years, I would have lashed out at the accusers, but now I have learned to stop and think about what I’m going to say, then try and articulate the answer as best I can. I was the emcee, and in fact the playing field coordinator as well as the head referee in cognito. It was my decision and mine alone to decide when and if to shut off a team for a timeout violation. The other referees, whom by the way did an outstanding job of showing constraint for a myriad of tiny violations throughout the event - were in charge of shutting off robots during the match for violating the tipping, pinning, and stepping out of bounds issues. Getting back to the incident at hand - From my vantage point, the person making the repairs and myself were in constant communication - he told me what he was doing and about how long it would take to fix the problem. I was looking over his shoulder and analyzing the situation, while evaluating if he could indeed fix the robot the way he said he was trying and not BSing me. I made the decision and asked him to fix it faster, he was struggling to get a trantorque coupling screwed tight around a drive axle. In my opinion, I didn’t think that this was a major violation and as Joe Johnson has stated - the decisions must have enough flexibility to allow teams to compete when the robot repairing is a possibility. Taking into account that this was a finals match, I decided to allow them to complete the repair which in my opinion was doable in a minute or so, at the most. Although it WAS a tough call, I also will tell you that given anyone of the finalist being in the same situation - I would have done the same for any of them. Having competed in FIRST for the past 6 years, when it comes down to the final matches - most of the teams will tell you that they WANT to know that their opponents were giving there all, and that they did not win by deating a broken robot.
Anyways, I just want to end by Thanking everyone that attended the CDI, I hope you will return next year. I can assure you that we try our hardest to put on a quality event and try to take into consideration that teams have put alot of effort into the robots and often travel long distances to attend. I will try to do better next year, taking this issue into consideration when we develop the game and rules, and most importantly during the event. I applogize to anyone that feels they were cheated by my ruling - I wish you well in the upcoming FIRST season. In honor of today being Thanksgiving - I thank all of you for making the event what it was and thank my counterparts and Chief Delphi teamates for supporting me and the referees. Have a Great day!

The rules about timeouts did cause our team some confusion, too.

Just so everyone knows, the audience couldn’t see everything that was happening.

All of the delay was not simply an “extended time out”. There were also a lot of things happening on the field causing delays that LOOKED like extended time outs but really weren’t. There were two other rulings that had to be made during that time to clear up, and the judges stopped play during those rulings.

  1. Timeouts were allocated by alliance, not by team, and no board display showed the timeout status. These things, taken together, interacted and caused some of the confusion and you saw that day.

I was one of 830’s coaches. At one point during this drivetrain crisis, we tried to use a timeout to help our alliance partner, 469. I approached an official for what we thought would be our FIRST MINUTE of our five minutes of Time Out. Neither I nor the official I approached were aware that no timeouts were left for our alliance to use, because there was no way to easily determine it! The official said “OK”. I told 469 they had five more minutes. I then left the area, thinking we now had five more minutes. Then a few seconds later, the official ran back over to each of us and said we had no time outs left, which confused everyone. I said we hadn’t used any of OUR time yet. There was some delay while we found another judge to sort out how this situation could happen.

It turned out that our alliance partner had already used it all up all of the JOINT TIME without telling us!

Now the problem is NOT that we want to prevent that. We were GLAD they used it! Rather, the difficulty was that the rules allowed what in most sports might be considered ONE team’s resource to be consumed by another team without their knowledge.

No consulting was required between alliance partners to use a timeout. That is reasonable in this case, but since we were on opposite sides of the field, this lead to a SERIOUS information gap between alliance partners. We thought we still had a full five minutes available for US in case WE needed it! That in turn definitely caused some of the some confusion seen by everyone on the field while things stopped so we could all figure this out.

  1. Just so everyone knows it, when 469 was in trouble with a slipping drivetrain the Blue alliance DID try to help out to get 469 back into the game by donating some of their time. When we found out there were no timeouts left, the Blue team on the audience’s right side generously called for a timeout (so they could get a chance to soundly trounce us fair and square ;-).

However, the rules only allowed for one five minute “timeout block” per round, and so the Blue offer was refused by the judges. FYI to all, this ALSO caused some of the confusion and delay seen during 469’s repair time while THAT was being looked up and ruled upon, although to the audience that may have LOOKED like part of the timeout.

BTW, even though Blue’s timeout donation wasn’t accepted by the refs, we’d like to sincerely thank the Blue alliance partner that round for their gracious gesture! We felt that showed GREAT sportsmanship, and was truly in the FIRST spirit! If someone could please review a video tape and tell us who that was (the Blue team on the audience’s right while 469 was making repairs), we’d like to personally acknowledge and thank them for their kind act.

For future notes:

Having any rule that can allow two independent taps on a single resource (especially from opposite sides of the field) creates cases where a resource one team may desperately need may suddenly find it consumed without their knowledge. When you have no simple way to ascertain that knowledge, confusion occurs. Even though it is a “common” resource in this game we can see how awkward that information gap can be.

Suggestion A) I would like to see in future competitions that involve games with alliances that each TEAM be given some Time Out time allocation that they alone control. IMHO giving each TEAM five minutes to fix their machine would be very fair, and help prevent confusion like this in the future.

Suggestion B) Future games with timeouts should include TIMEOUT(S) LEFT displays for each team/alliance on the master screen board indicating what everyone has left. Then we ALL can refer to them and eliminate some of the confusion.

Suggestion C) It would also be nice if the rules allowed one team or alliance on the field to donate time to another. That is the way football games and most other sports work, but was forbidden by this year’s rules. Since it is a finite resource in total for all teams, it wouldn’t really affect total match time. It may even become important strategically for everyone involved. Heck, I really want to rumble WITH the other teams in it, if it’s at all possible! <grin>

I hope you all won’t get too down on the judges. Although our team happened to benefit somewhat this time around from a ruling, I believe almost all of that “extra time” was in reality a side effect of a series of “ref time outs” to rule on these other issues and clear up informational confusion.

I also think overall the judges did a WONDERFUL job everywhere. I’ve rarely seen refs working so hard to see that EVERYONE was kept up and in the competition whenever possible. During the contest itself, compared to most of the sports I’ve ever watched you don’t normally see such rapid, decisive, and fair judging, nor such sportsmanship on the part of all of the teams.

I’d also like to thank the judges for chasing personnel off of the field at Freeze MANY times during the competition, instead of being nasty and saying: “BZZZZ! Too bad, time’s up, you’re still here, and so your team is OUT! Hahahahaha!!” I thought that it was admirable they DIDN’T do that!

On behalf of Team 830 and all of us, I’d like to thank ALL of the judges for their dedication to come out, their generous donation of time, and all of their efforts to help make this a wonderful experience for everyone.

  • Keith McClary, Advisor, Team 830 “The Rat Pack”
    ACTI - Automation Computer Technologies, Inc.