The question? Why was the just-completed “Jeopardy! The Greatest of All Time” tournament such a good sign for America?
That kind of viewership, as Deseret News writer Lottie Johnson put into perspective Wednesday morning, is at a level similar to the audiences the NBA Finals and the World Series tend to draw.
Perhaps this tells us something about ourselves that we have been conditioned not to believe. Brain sports can be big money.
Whoops! I shouldn’t have used that word. Ken Jennings, now the ultimate GOAT (greatest of all time) on Jeopardy!, said in a recent interview by CBS that trivia isn’t trivial. It’s better to know a little about a wide variety of things than to know a lot about only one subject.
Which is probably true unless you’re a brain surgeon or an auto mechanic working on my car.
We used to call that having a well-rounded education, before so many of us became well rounded in a different way, by sitting on a sofa watching other people exercise (i.e. playing ball games).
Actually, the history of education in this country holds a bit of irony in this regard. Near the end of the 19th century, Winfred Baldwin tried to promote a well-rounded education through “The Werner Educational Series: Primary Lessons in Human Physiology and Hygiene for Schools.”
One of his ideas for rounding people was to get them out of classrooms and running on the fields.
“Exercise is essential to the health of the whole body,” he said. “It increases the circulation and the power of breathing, and stimulates every part of the body to a good healthy growth.”
He probably didn’t understand what he was unleashing, or just how stimulated people would become by watching, not necessarily participating in, organized and competitive school exercise.
It didn’t take long after the first balls rolled out from the first P.E. closet before educators started fretting about games becoming more important than books.
Unlike many other countries of the world, the United States managed to make sports — mainly football and the game invented by an academic, basketball — synonymous with something called school spirit. And, given the entrepreneurial spirit that has long led this nation forward, it didn’t take long for those two spirits, and their potential audience, to translate into big business and lots of money.
While Ken Jennings, James Holzhauer and Brad Rutter matched wits on Jeopardy!, the NCAA was meeting with the Justice Department to discuss how to change the rules so that student athletes can begin making money off the fame college sports brings them.
Will the day come when the smartest students, competing in games of knowledge, quick minds and skill, begin demanding the same?
Sounds crazy, perhaps. But large audiences and money do seem to follow each other.
All you have to do is Google the lessons from Jeopardy! to see people talking about runner up James Holzhauer’s unique strategy for winning and how it might apply toward the world of investments.
“Holzhauer’s strategy was built on making big wagers early in the game when he could afford to lose and making smaller wagers late in the game when he had a wider safety net,” said the website highlandplanning.com. “For investors, we should start building our account balances early. We can afford to take more risk when we are younger by having a greater allocation to stocks or speculating on a risky stock.”
Of course, Holzhauer’s strategy ultimately fell victim to the first and overriding strategy for winning the game — know the answers.
Still, when something catches the nation’s imagination, people begin chattering in all kinds of surprising directions. When that happens, there is money to be made.
Final Jeopardy answer: Someone at ABC is probably looking at this.
The question? Will anyone find ways to keep the momentum toward brain sports programming going?