Video Replay Review

I’m curious what the FIRST community’s views are on the rationale behind not allowing video replay review. This valuable tool is used in most professional and college sports, and is almost always implemented without concern.

Personally, I believe that video replay should be available to teams in certain situations; namely match-affecting rule violations in elimination matches, and red/yellow cards in any match.

A couple points in support of video replay review…

  • There is little argument for missed calls/variation in calls as being “part of the game” (this argument was used by opponents of video review when it was implemented by Major League Baseball in 2008). This is a game where the most important players are machines. The errors of humans should not impact the competition of machines.

  • Video replay review has the potential to make events run more smoothly. Rather than having a huddle of officials each recounting their own perception of some game event, referees can simply go to the replay booth to make the call.

  • Every single FRC match is already recorded and uploaded to the cloud. Thus, implementing video replay review does not impose an undue burden on FIRST HQ.

  • Video replay review creates a more satisfying experience for all FRC participants. Competitors can leave their events with the sense that they were treated fairly, and that any shortcomings/failures that they experienced were not the result of systemic issues. Volunteers (particularly FTAs and referees) can leave their events with a feeling of satisfaction knowing that they delivered the best possible experience for the community.

  • Video replay review could increase the overall community perception of referees and FTAs, as it would drastically reduce the amount of sub-optimal experiences caused by poor calls.

  • Video replay review could increase volunteer turnout, as there is now a safety mechanism in place to remedy fixed calls. People may be more inclined to volunteer as there is less risk that they could ruin someone’s day.

  • Video replay creates another parallel between FRC and traditional sports, which could possibly increase FRC participants as well as event turnout.

A couple points against video replay review…

  • Video replay review would create a delay in the flow of events which has not previously existed.

  • Video replay review could be construed as FIRST HQ having mistrust in their referees.

  • Teams who are penalized/put at a disadvantage after a replay review could feel that they are being targeted (“We would have won had the call not been overturned”).

I think a successful/effective review system would mirror rules used by the National Football League. For those unfamiliar with these rules, they work as follows

  • Head coaches receive 2 challenge flags to use over the course of a game.
  • If they challenge a call and it is overturned, they retain their challenge flag.
  • Only certain situations are able to be reviewed by replay.
  • The booth official (who sits in the press box above the field” can initiate a video review of any call at any time.
  • Coaches cannot challenge a call made within the last two minutes of each half.
  • All scoring plays are automatically reviewed
  • If a coach throws a challenge flag in a situation that they are not able to, they incur a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
  • Referees can make 3 calls following a review. The call is CONFIRMED if video replay evidence confirms incontrovertibly that the initial ruling on the field was correct. The call STANDS if video replay evidence is insufficient to overturn the ruling on the field. The call is OVERTURNED if video evidence provides incontrovertible evidence that the initial ruling was incorrect.

If I could write the replay review rules, they would read as follows (rule numbers based off of the 2022 Rapid React Game Manual):

Amend the blue box of H201 to include:

“f. Throwing a CHALLENGE FLAG on the FIELD when a situation is not SEASON AFFECTING.”

Add a new section which reads

11.2.2 Video Replay Review
In SEASON AFFECTING situations, teams may chose to CHALLENGE the ruling of an OFFICIAL or SCORING DEVICE.

Teams are given two CHALLENGE FLAGS per event. If, at any time a team wishes to challenge a SEASON AFFECTING ruling, a STUDENT DRIVE TEAM member should throw their CHALLENGE FLAG onto the FIELD carpet. At this time, MATCH queuing will be suspended. The same STUDENT DRIVE TEAM member should approach the Head REFEREE with the specific ruling(s) that they would like to challenge. If the ruling is SEASON AFFECTING, the Head REFEREE will review all available angles of MATCH footage to make a ruling. After reviewing the incident, the Head REFEREE may make one of three rulings.

  1. The ruling is CONFIRMED if video replay evidence confirms incontrovertibly that the initial ruling on the FIELD was correct.

  2. The ruling STANDS if video replay evidence is insufficient to overturn the ruling on the FIELD.

  3. The ruling is OVERTURNED if video evidence provides incontrovertible evidence that the initial ruling on the FIELD was incorrect.

Following the CHALLENGE, the Head REFEREE, in conjunction with the FTA, scoring table personnel, and other relevant personnel, will update FMS with final scores, FOULS, and YELLOW or RED CARDS. The Head REFEREE will announce the ruling and any relevant context to the ARENA. The ruling of the Head REFEREE following a CHALLENGE is final.

If, after a CHALLENGE, the ruling on the FIELD STANDS or is CONFIRMED, the Head REFEREE will keep the CHALLENGE FLAG of the issuing team. If, after a CHALLENGE, the ruling on the FIELD is OVERTURNED, the Head REFEREE shall return the CHALLENGE FLAG to the issuing team. “

Add the following terms to the glossary:

“CHALLENGE: The video replay review process which occurs when a team throws a CHALLENGE FLAG on the FIELD

CHALLENGE FLAG: The red weighted cloth bag thrown by teams to initiate a CHALLENGE

SEASON AFFECTING: Any MATCH AFFECTING situation in a Playoff MATCH and/or any issuance of a RED or YELLOW CARD


SCORING DEVICE: Any electronic equipment used by FMS to calculate scoring totals”

How would you write the rules? How would you change mine?

The intent of this post is to create an avenue for public discussion regarding an important issue. This post is in no way meant to be criticizing, demeaning, or ungrateful towards FIRST Volunteers and Staff.



They view the rationale against it poorly.


Couple other threads if you haven’t seen them already also, not that more discussion isint bad:


Early on, one rationale was: The tech isn’t good enough at a reasonable price. What I mean by that is that the quality of the cameras back 15 years ago (or more) wasn’t great for seeing things like “that robot is in that zone”. It was hit-or-miss. Of course, that’s no longer an issue, particularly with there being 3 decent cameras included with most fields.

These days, I would say the bigger issue is the time commitment to do review effectively. The concern is that with review being A Thing, teams will call for reviews to get extra time. Of course, this isn’t a technical challenge–the is a rules and logistical challenge.

I would also bet that review is being discussed by the playoff working group. I would be not terribly surprised to see it being included in future.

You idea is well-argued, but a couple of (eminently fixable) points:

  • The idea of throwing beanbags onto the field certainly has a dramatic flair, but I wouldn’t want to encourage teams to throw things onto the field “at any time”. Challenges generally only arise after the scores are announced, which may be close the the start time of the next match.
  • I could be wrong, but my understanding is that the current field set up does not store video locally, but only streams it to Twitch. If the stream goes down, the video is lost forever. Guaranteeing that video is stored and can be reviewed efficiently will come with a certain cost.

Why complicate matters by introducing MATCH AFFECTING and SEASON AFFECTING definitions? You’ve already limited challenges. Let teams decide when something is important enough to challenge throughout the entire event. 1st seeded alliances win events 40-80% of the time depending on the game. A qualification match error that changes the order of the top qualifiers could be the most season affecting moment in an event.


I completely agree with your first point. My intent was that the flag could only be thrown after the match has concluded. “At any time” was not the right choice of words. My rationale for having the flag be on the field is that it is visually obvious to spectators and requires acknowledgement and action from officials before the event continues.

As to your second point, it is my recollection that matches are immediately uploaded to YouTube following their conclusion. I routinely review match videos at events, sometimes just a few minutes after the end of the match. However, I’m not too familiar with the inner workings of Twitch and it may be that there is some way to upload Twitch clips directly to YouTube.

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On many occasions, correct. Other matches never make it. Example: CALA 2022 lost stream through much of the QFs, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth and kvetching, at least from those trying to watch. Not one of those matches are on TBA as videos, and TBA pulls from YT and just about anywhere else. So, any solution suggestion needs to have a “no video available” option. (I would just use 2, ruling stands, but there’s also the option to request non-official video if onsite.)

With that said, there’s an obvious issue with pulling from an online source at the event: getting online without burning data. But, there’s a much less obvious solution: the field (and the streaming unit) have at least one dedicated Internet line between the two. It should be relatively trivial* to connect a “playback” computing device to the field’s internet line, point it at TBA (or Twitch), and play back whichever match needs to be looked at, IF an upload was made.

*I’m not a network/IT guy. Take with lots of salt. But with Slack working on the field, I would bet that getting either TBA or Twitch would be semi-trivial.


:wave:IT guy, here. This feels fine, but not ideal. As most venues, this bandwidth is sufficient to stream, do all the other field things, and more. There are certainly events, though, where bandwidth is more limited. And, in rare cases, there’s actually not even a stream using venue internet (see: Los Angeles Convention Center).

If FIRST was going to implement this as a change program wide, the obvious solution to me would be to write (or buy) some software that lives on the webcast unit that enables instant replay. Maybe the webcast unit gets an additional monitor and the webcast operator can queue up video on it. Even if internet fails, the video is solid as the capture happens locally in this setup. We’ve seen this as a feasible setup in FRC (RSN/Champs FIRSTtv coverage).

There may be a small cost with this, but it would likely be much more reliable than anything involving internet. And any FTA will tell you the less load you’re putting on the network at an event, the more reliable the robot connectivity during matches. This might seem nominal, but sometimes it’s not.

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This would have made our 2018 a much better year. There were 2 occasions, 1 at rocket city and 1 at champs, where we very well could have proved with video that we should have won a match. And they were both in playoff matches, rocket city being final 3.

Im very much in favor of video review. Even if in the future it negatively affects us, id be more ok with it knowing it was confirmed to be a fair call.