The Right Thing to Do

Apr 08, 2015 Written by FIRST Staff

Last weekend, at the San Diego Regional, during the finals, red card violations of G18, that likely should have been called, were not. As I’ve noted before in this blog, I believe it’s the responsibility of FIRST HQ to ensure our volunteers are properly trained, and I also believe it’s the responsibility of FIRST HQ to ensure the rules are clear enough so that both our volunteers and our teams can easily understand them.

In the case of G18, we provided added clarity in Q223 in the Q&A in January, but did not reflect that added clarity back in the manual itself. I now believe we should have. For that, I apologize. I think the Head Referee would have been more likely to make the call had the rule been more clear. I also think the team that violated the rule would have been less likely to do so in the first place had they understood clearly they were risking a red card.

The red card situation happened in both final matches. If the red card had been called in the first match, it obviously would have changed the outcome of that match. I also think it’s likely the teams’ behavior would have changed in the second match in an attempt to avoid that situation again, so I don’t think it’s reasonable to attempt to absolutely predict what the final outcome of the best 2 out of 3 series would have been.

The following teams were involved in those final matches:

  • 399, Eagle Robotics, from Lancaster, California, USA
  • 3255, SuperNURDs, from Escondido, California, USA
  • 2339, Robolopes, from Lancaster, California, USA
  • 1538, The Holy Cows, from San Diego, California, USA
  • 3476, Code Orange, from Irvine, California, USA
  • 4486, Blue Prints, from Vista, California, USA

I apologize to these teams for this mistake. I can only try to imagine how hard this was to deal with. All teams have already qualified for the FIRST Championship, otherwise I likely would have offered Wild Card slots to the teams that had not yet been invited. 

In yesterday’s Team Update, we added clarification, including an updated illustration, to G18, to help prevent this from happening again. Head Referees are being made aware of this update, and are being encourage to cover this in the drivers’ meetings.

I think it’s helpful to tell you what the Head Referee did at the event after he realized he had made a mistake. While it was too late to reverse the call or replay matches, after being shown the relevant Q&A and realizing his error, the Head Referee went to the teams involved after closing ceremonies, admitted he made a mistake, and apologized. This was “The Right Thing to Do”, and, I think, speaks to his character, in his willingness to take responsibility for his actions. I received an email from a mentor on one of the teams pointing this out, and indicating she saw this incident as an important life lesson for her team. The teams were still hurting after the apology, I’m sure, but I would bet this was a more positive outcome than it would have been if that conversation had not taken place.

I personally find asking myself “What’s the right thing to do?”, when presented with difficult challenges, remarkably clarifying. For me, it somehow cuts through the nonsense. The focus is on ‘right’ rather than ‘easiest’ or ‘justifiable’, and in many cases, the answer becomes more obvious, even if the execution remains a challenge. But, the salient point about the right thing to do is that it’s the right thing to do, no matter how hard it is.

Frank

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