"Jeopardy!" Producer Has New Stance on "Banning" Players—And Fans Are Concerned
Michael Davies believes Jeopardy! is a sport and that the best players should compete.
Since the late Alex Trebek began hosting Jeopardy! in 1984, there was a longstanding rule that players got one shot at glory. After losing, that was it—no returning to the Jeopardy! stage. On rare occasions, contestants have been brought back due to errors on production's end, but typically, when it comes to the syndicated version of the show (and excluding special tournaments), that rule isn't broken.
In 2022, Jeopardy! announced its first-ever Second Chance Tournament, giving competitive players who didn't win their first game one more opportunity. Executive producer Michael Davies led the crusade to invite repeat players, most of whom lost because they had to compete against reigning champions like Amy Schneider and Matt Amodio, Vulture reported. Now, Davies wants to take things a bit further when it comes to banning former players from competing again. Read on to find out what he said about eligibility rules—and why some fans are concerned.
Producers discussed the High School Reunion Tournament on Inside Jeopardy!
During a March 13 episode of the Inside Jeopardy! podcast, Davies—along with fellow producer Sarah Foss and former champ Buzzy Cohen—discussed the recent Jeopardy! High School Reunion Tournament, which invited former high school contestants back again.
On March 9, Justin Bolsen, who also competed in the 2019 Tournament of Teens, was crowned the winner of the reunion, earning him a $100,000 prize and a spot in the 2023 Tournament of Champions.
Davies said that Jeopardy! will continue inviting young players back to compete in these high school and college reunion tournaments, alternating every other year. Cohen chimed in, comparing the reunion tournaments to The Hunger Games, where contestants invited back to "fight again for their spot" in the Tournament of Champions.
In response, Davies said he "would take things a step further."
Davies equates the quiz show to a sport.
According to Davies, Jeopardy! is a sport, and he remains committed to "player development," particularly at the high school and college levels. As such, he doesn't think that these players, or any players, should be barred from returning to 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 said. "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."
The producer added that he wants "the very best players playing Jeopardy! on the Alex Trebek stage"—and he's not concerned with anything else.
"To some extent, I don't care whether you've played before, I don't care whether you have taken the test before, I just want the best players on that stage," he said.
In the past, Davies explained that Jeopardy! has been seen solely as a game show that needed to consider eligibility and access. But because the producer sees Jeopardy! as a sport, he believes similar rules should apply.
"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," Davies concluded.
Many fans were quick to say that the rules should stay the same.
Jeopardy! diehards are vocal with their opinions on game rules, and many were wary of the potential changes.
In a Reddit post on the r/Jeopardy thread, fans discussed Davies' statements and the impact new rules could have.
"I think the eligibility rules should be kept as is. It helps keep the flow and separates past contestants from new ones," one Redditor wrote. "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."
Another said that this takes away from the air of mystery surrounding the game. "Part of the mystique of the show is the idea that anybody can get on and win," the commenter wrote. "The more game slots keep getting reserved for previous players, the more this mystique goes away."
Other viewers are open to Davies' eligibility idea.
Some fans said that eligibility rules should remain in place—with a few exceptions.
"I mostly agree—but 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," a commenter wrote. "I think those who competed as minors should be able to return once, after 10 years."
Another Redditor echoed this, noting that teen and college contestants should be able to play again as adults. Still, one viewer took issue with the reality that while the producers say they want the best competitors, it could end up becoming a popularity contest.
"It's not going to be a good competition watching James [Holzhauer] wipe the floor with the others," the Redditor wrote.