Wanted to share a couple more thoughts / comments on the helicopter trial event situation:
First off, as I mentioned above, the team ranks absolutely did NOT factor into this decision, nor did we have any idea what they were at the time of the decision. I've now gone and looked at the complete team rankings for all 40 teams, with and without helicopters as a trial event. In the vast majority of cases teams final rank was identical. In a handful of cases teams move up or down 1 rank as a result. In 2 cases teams moved 2 ranks.
As I'm sure everyone noticed, scoring was a bit delayed in getting final results. There were a LOT of issues we had to deal with, far more than I've ever encountered in my many years of helping run tournaments. Nothing could be attributed to any one person or cause, it was rather just the perfect storm of lots of diverse smaller things occurring, each of which took time and attention.
Could we potentially have notified everyone a bit earlier about helicopters? Yes, if we had thought about it at the time. I don't know the exact time the decision was finalized, but I'm sure it was within about an hour of the awards ceremony starting. So our natural thought was just to announce it at the ceremony and then move on to the next problem to be dealt with. Would sending out an text or email have given coaches times to 'prepare their kids'? I don't know, but I suspect that it generally would have had the same impact and people would have been upset, albeit about an hour earlier.
I'm sure there is going to be a lot of 'Monday morning' quarterbacking on this, but I'd like to emphasize this was a group decision made after significant discussion and we all agreed it was in the best interest of everyone in general, while admitting some people would of course be upset about it.
Also please keep in mind that in this very thread a week or so ago there was a big debate about the location of the event. The tournament director tried very hard to move it to another location, but ultimately was unable to due to various issues, including the fact that 2 other large events were going on on campus yesterday at the same time.
The event supervisors assigned to this event were very experienced and have run flying events such as helicopters and wright stuff numerous times. They readily admitted that there was far more subjectiveness in their timing decisions over helicopters getting hung up than normally occurs - nearly every flight required them to note a contingency time via the lap functionality of the stopwatches.
TDLR version: I'm sorry some people are upset about this, but hopefully after learning all the details, in particular the minimal impact on team results, and thinking about it they'll understand we made the best choice possible given the situation.
National Event Supervisor
National Physical Sciences Rules Committee Chair