Many have been questioning the increase in “Jeopardy!” winning streaks that players like Amy Schneider are on. Five-time champion Tom Nicholas believes he knows why that’s the case.
- “It is no longer a show that celebrates the smarts of the average citizen,” said Nicholas in an op-ed in The Atlantic, arguing that the former amateurs who participated are now professionalized.
- But that’s not all. Another reason for these winning streaks is the abolition of the long-standing rule that you must retire after five wins.
This season has been unprecedented as three players — Matt Amodio with 38 wins, Schneider with 33 wins and Jonathan Fisher with 11 — have blown away many of the show’s longstanding records, per The Ringer.
- “Season 38 has certainly been the season of the super-champions,” said host Ken Jennings, the 74-time champ.
Why are the winning streaks a problem?
Nicholas thinks that playing the quiz show over and over again can help players master the game’s weird riddles and the fastest way to click the buzzer. The more you play, the more comfortable you get. Good “Jeopardy!” players ignore the host and any other distractions too, its just them, the board and their buzzer.
- “After about two or three wins, I think you’ve got such an advantage,” Nichols said in an interview with Boston Public Radio. “You’ve been using the buzzer — which is much more important than people realize — you’re a lot more comfortable in the studio; you understand the rhythm of the game.”
- So, when new players go against players who’ve won a dozen games, the show becomes “inherently unfair.”
- “‘Jeopardy!’ used to be a spirited, and limited, competition among ordinary Americans. Now we watch because we want to see James or Matt or Amy squash a passel of newbies every week, hapless victims for whom victory is mathematically out of reach within 20 minutes,” said Nicholas.
- “This doesn’t reflect well on our culture. Bring in more people and make it about watching your friends and neighbors again,” he added.