February 14, 2023

Clapping on Jeopardy!

I’m not a fan of quiz shows generally, but I regularly watch Jeopardy! This particular program requires knowledge—often arcane knowledge—imagination, strategy, dexterity, and a little bit of luck. It is fast-paced and challenging for viewers who take the game seriously. And trying to come up with the proper responses can be seriously humbling.

I’ve noticed a phenomenon on the program that I’ve observed (and disliked) on other quiz shows. Contestants sometimes clap when other contestants offer a correct response. Surely this is insincere. Contestants are contesting against one another after all. Generally, a successful response from someone else diminishes your chance of winning. Could that possibly please you if you actually understand the game?

It is possible, of course, that someone might offer an extraordinarily brilliant response to a difficult clue, for which admiring applause might seem appropriate. Although playing the game requires knowledge and cleverness, absolute brilliance is not usually necessary, so I think this situation arises seldom if at all.

Another reason for clapping for a correct response from someone else is strategic. For example, if you are leading another player by a small amount, a correct response by a far-behind third player is not a threat to you and prevents the second-place player from gaining on you by offering a correct response. Your applause could be quite genuine, but it would represent bad sportsmanship. It would be the equivalent of clapping for a missed response.

At the end of the game, losing contestants usually clap for the winner. Unlike other opportunities for applause, this is perfectly respectable, acknowledging as it does, the winner of a hard-faught game. That would represent good sportsmanship.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Anonymous comments are not allowed. All comments are moderated by the author. Gratuitous profanity, libelous statements, and commercial messages will be not be posted.