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What is the newest NCAA sport?

By Bobby Gordon

May 20, 2007 9:30 p.m.

I’m here to right a wrong.

One of the most gladiatorial competitive events in the history of mankind is not getting the respect it deserves, and it is high time that the college sporting world did something about it.

This sport that the NCAA refuses to recognize requires highly skilled and trained athletes to think quickly on their feet, outdo their competitors, and have very good thumb dexterity.

Yes, I’m talking about Jeopardy!, or as the ancient Romans used to call it, Jeopardus Awesomenus.

While many are excited about the school’s 100th team title, they should be celebrating No. 101. A short while ago, second-year history student Cliff Galiher brought home Jeopardy! College Championship glory by defeating Stanford and Notre Dame representatives in a two-part, aggregately scored battle to the death.

Alright, it wasn’t to the death, but they did look very tired at the end.

Imagine this: Had Jeopardy! been an NCAA sport before this year, water polo would not be celebrating toppling the century mark, but instead Galiher, who competed first, would be hoisted up on peoples’ shoulders. Now, some will argue that it is an individual sport, and that it shouldn’t count. Some will argue he was acting alone. I won’t touch the grassy-knoll theory. Jeopardy! is a team sport. His teachers, his study groups, his buddy who drove him to USC ““ they don’t get a blue backpack, but they’re on the team.

Galiher did something beautiful. He not only brought a home a national championship, but he did so by beating the Fighting Irish and the Cardinal on the USC campus. This glory would only be multiplied if the sport got the true sanctioning it deserves.

There really is no end to the benefits for UCLA should Jeopardy! become a validated collegiate sport.

First of all, tutoring ““ many athletes on campus take advantage of tutoring that aids them in their classes while maintaining a packed schedule that requires that they miss class a lot.

Galiher, if made into a scholarship athlete, not only would not need tutoring, but also would be able to do some of the tutoring himself.

He would learn from the experience, and the UCLA Athletic Department would save money. That’s a double whammy.

There is also no way to overestimate the importance of beating USC in anything. Revisiting the glory of this year’s championship round ““ USC didn’t even qualify. The title was won in the Galen Center with USC cheerleaders cheering, and USC could not do a thing about it.

In fact, having Jeopardy! as a varsity sport all but guarantees the Bruins Lexus Gauntlet points year in, year out.

Add that to the basketball team and an improving football team, and UCLA is in good shape.

And Alex Trebek was made for sportscasting. I can definitely see him on air after Kirk Herbstreit or Stuart Scott. Maybe it seems weird to think about, but ESPN already has the national spelling bee televised. If it weren’t for ESPN, I would have no idea what a consummate persifleur is, and if it weren’t for Alex Trebek, I would know next to nothing about bodies of water.

At the bare minimum, it would be amazing to see athletic departments sweating out recruitments. Ken Jennings would have people knocking down his door to dress him up in their school’s colors. Jennings, who holds the show’s record for the longest winning streak, would have no idea what to do.

It is time for NCAA Jeopardy! and the tailgating that comes with it.

E-mail Gordon at [email protected] if you are a savant and already know how many times he said Jeopardy! in this column.

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