‘Jeopardy!’ Fans Fear Rule Change Could Ruin ‘Mystique’ of Show

It used to be that Jeopardy! was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but that has started to change since new showrunner Michael Davies took over. And he could be about to make another significant change to the much-loved show ahead of its landmark 40th season. If the rule change comes into force it will be harder for new contestants to clinch a coveted spot on the show. Fans have already reacted amid concern that it will ruin the ‘mystique’ of Jeopardy! forever.

Since the late Alex Trebek started hosting the Jeopardy! in 1984, it was a rule that players only had one shot at becoming Jeopardy! champion. Once a player had competed on the syndicated version of the show, they were ineligible to ever compete again (outside of special tournaments or rare production errors).

However, on the latest Inside Jeopardy! podcast, executive producer Davies said that he was considering allowing contestants who had previously competed on the show to come back and compete again. And he wasn’t just talking special competitions, he meant regular episodes. This would mean that hopefuls who have been trying for years to get on Jeopardy! could find their way blocked by a previous contestant getting a second chance.

Davies explained that he sees Jeopardy! as a sport, and that should mean it includes the best players, regardless of how many times they’ve played before.

He discussed the recent High School Reunion Tournament, which brought back former teen contestants, with producer Sarah Foss and former Jeopardy! champion Buzzy Cohen, where the latter described it as The Hunger Games, with players returning to “fight again for their spot” in the Tournament of Champions.

“I would take things a step further,” Davies added, noting that he is committed to “player development,” meaning he is against barring people from the show.

“I feel pretty strongly that people who’ve played on college before, and people who’ve played in sort of teen tournaments before, they’re playing Jeopardy! at a time in their life when they’ve not yet reached their maximum potential as Jeopardy! competitors, as Jeopardy! players,” he explained.

“We are having deep conversations within the ‘inner sanctum’ of Jeopardy! right now about the eligibility of players and whether or not we should, frankly, have any restrictions on eligibility,” he continued.

Rather than following traditional game show rules, Davies said Jeopardy! should be treated as a sport and have similar eligibility requirements.

“To some extent, I don’t care whether you’ve played before,” he stated. “I don’t care whether you have taken the test before; I just want the best players on that stage… I don’t know that we’d be banning anyone from trying to play in the U.S. Open tennis or the U.S. Open golf… I want Jeopardy! to be an open competition, and that everybody, all comers, can come in and play.”

There was mixed reaction to this potential rule change from long-time Jeopardy! viewers.

“I think the eligibility rules should be kept as is. It helps keep the flow and separates past contestants from new ones,” wrote a fan on the Jeopardy! Reddit forum. “There is a certain aura when it comes to contestants who competed on tournaments and special programs. I wish the producers would talk about consolation prizes or other supplementary events.”

“The only eligibility rules I’d like to see changed is allowing Teen and College contestants to come back as adults,” added another, which seemed to be a popular consensus.

“I had a younger classmate compete in middle school Jeopardy in the early 2000s and that she can’t compete as an adult is a little ridiculous,” wrote one viewer. “I think those who competed as minors should be able to return once, after 10 years.”

Another added, “Part of the mystique of the show is the idea that anybody can get on and win. The more game slots keep getting reserved for previous players, the more this mystique goes away.”

“The problem I see is that while they are saying they want the best players to compete in they are really just choosing the popular players of the last season,” said one fan. “It’s not going to be a good competition watching James wipe the floor with the others.”

What do you think? Should Jeopardy! allow players to return more than once? Let us know in the comments.

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