It’s not news that Jeopardy! contestants struggle with sports questions. If you’re a sports fan then that can seem shocking at times, but personally after spending a decade hosting weekly pub trivia nights at bars I can assure you that 75% of the population does not know the answer to even basic info on the subject.
The all-time example came a couple years ago, when all three contestants went through an entire football round without so much as ringing in a single guess. Granted these weren’t the easiest clues, but still. (Also: Alex Trebek’s joke at the end hits differently right now.)
Click here for some more classic bloopers, or check out a recent one below from last month. In this case you can tell the contestant immediately realized the error, but it was too late. The ball had already been thrown eight rows into the stands and there was no getting it back.
Have I mentioned that Jeopardy contestants and sports categories do not mix? pic.twitter.com/xy51UJcNZa— Ben Ross (@BenRossTweets) March 5, 2021
This week brought the latest Jeopardy! sports blunder, and it’s a particularly special one for Oakland A’s fans.
The answer: Reggie, Catfish, and this Bay Area team ran off 3 straight World Series titles from 1972 to 1974.
Here’s how it went.
If you know you know@Jeopardy | #RootedInOakland pic.twitter.com/A5hsL5Uksh— Oakland A's (@Athletics) April 13, 2021
Even knowing nothing except generally the names of MLB teams, one could deduce this down to a 50/50 coin flip between the A’s and the San Francisco Giants. But from there all bets are off, especially for any non-sports fan under the age of 50.
The contestant who missed it, Erick Loh, was competing out of Northridge. That’s right, Erick is from California and still picked the wrong side of the coin. Another contestant from Southern California, Dennis Chase of Cathedral City, came through a moment later to pick up the RBI.
To be fair, it appears likely that Erick isn’t old enough to remember the 1970s personally, but certainly old enough to have heard about the Giants’ string of recent championships. The guess isn’t completely out of left field. Although, if you already know that you don’t know it, why ring in and guess at all?
And anyway, you don’t necessarily need to know a shred about baseball to get this one right, if you’re at least a Simpsons fan.
In the end, Erick got the last laugh, winning the episode in a landslide. But here’s the thing. The way Jeopardy! works is that the champion gets their winning score in cash, while second and third place receive a predetermined consolation prize regardless of their final score in the game. That means Dennis didn’t really get anything for knowing the A’s, but Erick really did lose something.
This was a $1,000 clue, and if you guess wrong then you don’t just not get the points, you also lose that amount. If Erick had sat this one out, like fellow contestant Norah Webster of Chicago ultimately did, no harm would have been done. Instead, due to siding with the Giants, Erick’s score dropped by a thousand, meaning one thousand dollars less on the final winning prize of $21,000. Even worse, it was a $2,000 swing compared with the best-case scenario of guessing correctly and gaining that grand instead of losing it.
Clearly there are more important things than sports, and Erick showed you can come out far ahead in life even without being a fan. But there’s also another important takeaway here — beware of underestimating the A’s, because it could cost you.