How is it that contestants on Jeopardy! know the questions to stuff that the rest of us aren’t even sure what the answers are – Did you see what we did there? – but they whiff like they’re Gary Sanchez when the topic is sports? The clue about Bryson DeChambeau was the equivalent of a gimme putt for golfers on a recent episode, and the contestants still embarrassed themselves every bit as much as they did when the topic was Cris Collinsworth a few nights earlier.
Sports and ‘Jeopardy!’ don’t go well together
Last year brought us COVID-19, an intense presidential election, and the shocking death of basketball great Kobe Bryant. Fortunately, we had the Toronto Star to take a deep dive into the subject of why Jeopardy! contestants are generally awful when the topic is sports.
The paper’s Alex Wong asked and answered why contestants who obviously know a lot about a lot struggle to tell the difference between a baseball bat and a hockey stick.
A February 2018 episode contained a football category, resulting in zero correct answers by the contestants. At one point, host Alex Trebek joked that perhaps it might be time to go to a commercial. On another show, a contestant answered a question about assists in hockey with “Magic Johnson” instead of “Wayne Gretzky.”
Naturally, it took a sportswriter, our true heroes in life, to shed light on why questions about Bryson DeChambeau or Cris Collinsworth are met with the same blank stare a dog displays when its human companion attempts to play peekaboo.
“Most of the (sports) questions are fairly surface-level,” said Sabreena Merchant, an online writer from Los Angeles who appeared on Jeopardy! “I rarely get the sports categories wrong when I’m watching. But if you don’t follow sports, there’s a huge gap.
“If you’re at school, you’ll pick up on Shakespeare. But it’s not like you’re going to learn about LeBron James in school.”
Cris Collinsworth got the year off to a bad start
Alex Trebek, the long-time host of Jeopardy! and well-known for his love of sports, died on Nov. 8, 2020, at the age of 80. Since the show is taped far in advance, episodes that he hosted continued to air early into 2021.
In one of the recent episodes, contestants were clearly on top of their game as they responded correctly to questions about American gymnastics star Aly Raisman and Milwaukee Bucks standout Giannis Antetokounmpo. But there were only blank stares when Trebek read this clue:
“The announcers on NBC Sunday Night Football are Al Michaels and this former wide receiver.”
A certain retired wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals couldn’t help but notice that he had failed to capture their notice.
“Another humbling moment. Nobody on Jeopardy had a clue,” Cris Collinsworth wrote on Twitter.
Bryson DeChambeau also stumped ‘Jeopardy!’ contestants
Winning seven PGA Tour events, including the U.S. Open mere weeks before the show was taped, wasn’t enough to qualify golfer Bryson DeChambeau as a household name for Jeopardy! contestants. Just a couple of days after the show’s panel failed on a Cris Collinsworth question, they came up with the figurative yips on a golf question about the tour’s longest hitter.
In one of the final shows hosted by Alex Trebek, no one knew DeChambeau.
The clue to the $1,000 question was:
“The unconventional methods of this long-hitting U.S. Open champ includes using a protractor on the putting green.”
No one attempted an answer, not even offering up a half-hearted Phil Mickelson or Magic Johnson.