This week saw the intersection of two of my favorite things- Jeopardy! and sports.
The Internet was in an uproar this week after a Jeopardy! contestant risked all of her money and lost under the final category “sports mascots.”
Here’s a look at the clue.
According to numerous tweets and online posts on the subject, the answer is obviously the Toronto Raptors. Unfortunately, one contestant came up with the incorrect answer of the Timberwolves and lost everything she had earned. CBS Sports and Yahoo Sports both reported this “incident” at the top of their news feed (was it that slow of a news day?). CBS Sports’ headline read “Jeopardy! contestant loses everything by screwing up easy NBA question.”
Meanwhile Yahoo Sports took it a little further by insinuating that the contestant couldn’t remember that dinosaurs are extinct writing, “Raptors. It was the Toronto Raptors. Dinosaurs are extinct. You don’t have to remember when the dinosaurs died out, just as you probably don’t need to know when Epcot Centre debuted in Orlando…”
But is the answer really that obvious.
I don’t know about you, but the Toronto Raptors is not the first team to come to mind when I am racking my brain recalling NBA team mascots. These sports media outlets seem to be doing the Raptors a tremendous favor by implying that of course everyone should know about them.
How many national championships do the Raptors have? Zero. How many conference titles do they have? Zero. To be fair the team has consistently made it to the playoffs the last four years and hold four division titles. They will be going to the playoffs this year as well.
But all things considered, the Toronto Raptors is still a relatively new franchise, founded in 1995 as part of the NBA’s expansion into Canada. The Raptors used to have a pal in Canada with the Vancouver Grizzlies, but the Grizzlies have since migrated for warmer pastures in Memphis, Tennessee, leaving the Raptors to fly solo in Canada.
While it has been a consistently performing franchise, it just doesn’t have the star-power of Russel Westbrook, LeBron Jame, or Steph Curry to truly put it into the mainstream media eye (outside of NBA centered sports outlets). The biggest player to come through that team is arguably Chris Bosh and he left the Raptors to go win two championships with the Miami Heat.
Jeopardy! is a high pressure situation. Contestants have thirty-seconds to come up with the correct answer while risking their money and cognitive reputation. This is not a question of the Jeopardy! contestant not knowing that dinosaurs are obviously extinct and therefore Raptors must be the correct answer. This is a question of- do the Raptors generate enough media attention, outside of NBA dedicated outlets, that identifying them as the correct answer should be a piece of cake?
Personally, I don’t think this Jeopardy! contestant just glossed over the Raptors and instead put down the Timberwolves because she couldn’t remember that the Raptors are an extinct dinosaur that lived 75 million years ago. I think she didn’t even remember that the Toronto Raptors are a team. The media pays attention to winning franchises, and thought the Raptors may be coming close, they are not truly there yet. Mainstream NBA news remains dominated by the Warriors, the Thunder, and the Cavs because of the superstars on those teams. Toronto unfortunately is one superstar short.
Hey, at least the Jeopardy! contestant put down the name of an existing NBA mascot. That’s step one. Unfortunately, she did risk all of her money answering incorrectly and the Internet is not going to let her forget it anytime soon.