Courtesy Mesquite Productions, Inc. A North Muskegon man will test his knowledge of all things sport when he takes on a pair of like-minded competitors on Wednesday, June 24 in the new show "Sports Jeopardy!
Right when you need your brain the most, it deserts you in a moment of panic. After 30 seconds of deliberation I decided to play it straight and write down a name I knew was incorrect, but at least showed a cursory knowledge of the topic.
For as long as I remember, I dreamed of appearing on Jeopardy! In my mind, I thought I was pretty good. But at the same time, I enjoyed success at bar trivia nights and seemed to have an uncanny ability to remember obscure facts, good only, it seemed, for a game show.
It seemed like a pipe dream. Like 30, other people, I applied online to become a contestant. I harbored no expectations.
Despite a career where I follow sports, and a home life which finds me staying up until 2 a. What I did know, however, that pure acumen is only one factor in making a good contestant.
So maybe, just maybe, I had a chance. I have no idea how I made the cut.
To this day, I think it was blind luck. It was the first indication Jeopardy! The in-person portion of the tryout was held on a Sunday afternoon just north of Times Square. I arrived early and staked out a place outside the hotel ballroom where my fate would be decided.
One by one, other hopefuls showed up. It became quite clear there was no dress code. Some gentlemen sported suits. Other dudes wore football jerseys.
Everyone seemed to have some sort of backpack with them, which immediately threw me off my game. Was I supposed to bring something? It seems odd to say, but it was at that point I felt the most nervous. What made me think I actually knew sports? What type of hubris made me think a few pieces of rote knowledge put me on par with these people?
I briefly considered packing up and leaving. My moments of self-doubt were interrupted by a tornado of energy emerging from the ballroom. Her name was Maggie and she spoke as if she had been mainlining coffee from sunrise.
Between sporadic bursts of shouting and laughter she explained what would happen next. There were of us at the tryout. Only 20 would make the cut into the interview portion of the pageant. The premise was simple enough. They came fast and furious.
There was no time to think. One either knew it or not.
As I wrote down my question for No. The remaining five, I knew, had no chance.
The Clue Crew retreated to a different room to grade our quizzes. Comparing notes with the guy next to me, I found his numbers to be about the same. We wished each other luck knowing full well one of us, if not both, would probably be disappearing out into the Manhattan streets to lick our wounds and wonder what might have been.
Knowing only 20 names would be called, I braced. Stunned, I managed a smile. The next name belonged to my neighbor, which must have spawned some suspicion.
I swear: we did not cheat. Those sighs turned to smiles as the Clue Crew walked us through the next step. We were to play practice games so they could get a sense of our skills and general on-camera comfort. Now, to me, I thought the hard part was over.
It was the test I was most worried about. Playing Jeopardy! The amount of reverence I had for the signaling device surprised me, but also served as reminder of the absurdity of the situation. The practice games, in comparison to the written test, were fairly simple.
I ascertained this portion was more about seeing our personalities than another measure of our sports knowledge. Everyone was pretty relaxed and, honestly, the hour breezed by. The Crew and producers conducted some informal interviews and took our headshots. Paperwork was distributed.
Personally, I left with a great feeling about how it had gone down. Games are selected at random to make sure everyone is on equal footing. The only thing I did in advance was to re-familiarize myself with some niche sports thanks, Wikipedia on the off chance I got a figure skating category.
We were briefed on the rules of the game and conducted a few practice games aimed at getting the deer-in-headlights look out of our eyes once filming began.
This, I must say, was a fantastic idea. Makeup was applied and an order was drawn. All I wanted was to not go first.