I believe in Jeopardy. Growing up, my family had a dinnertime routine. No matter what food we were eating or who was sitting around the kitchen table that night, we would always watch Jeopardy! at 7 o’clock. As Alex Trebek read the questions (or, as they’re known in Jeopardy terms, answers), we ate leftover lasagna and tried to remember facts about world geography and Shakespeare. The first person to shout out the correct answer was the winner. There was never any prize for us playing along at home, but that didn’t matter to me; being smarter than my parents and my sister was all the reward I needed.
It was during these nightly viewings of Jeopardy that I first realized I didn’t like not knowing things. Nothing was worse to me than watching an entire category of clues go by while I knew nothing. I devoted my time to reading almanacs, newspapers, and even the dictionary in an attempt to learning everything about, well, everything. I don’t consider myself a competitive person; I lose board games with grace and never let it bother me that my youth sports teams were not the best. But something about not doing well in Jeopardy has always been enough to ruin my evening.
I give Jeopardy credit for a lot of things in my life. It helped me pay attention in school, in hopes that something in the lessons about classic literature and the American Revolution would be a clue on Jeopardy. It helped me bond with my dad, the de facto Jeopardy champion in my house until I hit middle school and took his unofficial crown. It gave me a routine, something to look forward to every evening even when my parents were working late and my sister was at basketball practice. It could be just me at the dinner table that night, but I knew that Alex Trebek would be on the TV screen reading clues and I would be there answering in the form of a question.
Once I left home and moved to college, I continued my evening routine, sneaking down to my dorm lounge whenever I was free at 7. I’ve converted roommates and friends into Jeopardy fans, although I’m proud to say that I’ve yet to meet my Jeopardy match in person. Anybody who knows me knows I’m always down for trivia night, and that I’ll take it way more seriously than the event calls for. Some of my favorite memories are from Applebee’s trivia night in my hometown, where my friends and I would eat half priced appetizers and compete against what felt like everybody we went to high school with for the grand prize of a free entrée.
My love of Jeopardy has helped me realize that knowing things about the world and the people in it is one of the best feelings; it’s a big part of the reason I’m majoring in journalism and working toward a career in news. In a world where there are so many unknowns, I believe there’s value in sitting down with people and trying to figure things out, even if those things are as trivial as the name of the narrator in Moby Dick or the site of the first battle of the Revolutionary War.
I believe in Jeopardy.
Essayist Steph Krane is a senior at Penn State studying broadcast journalism. She was a summer news intern at WPSU.