Jeopardy’s Ken Jennings Explains Why The Game Show Should Take More Cues From The Sports World Moving Forward

Ken Jennings smiling and hosting Jeopardy
(Image credit: Jeopardy)

There’s no doubt that in the eyes of executive producer Michael Davies, Jeopardy! is oh so much more than a game. The classic quiz show is a sport, and its EP treats it as such, citing the contestants’ focus, endurance and competitiveness as qualities that are shared by top athletes. With Davies’ background in sports — amongst other jobs, he’s co-hosted the soccer podcast Men in Blazers since 2014 — it’s not surprising that he holds such a belief. However, his point of view is one that’s also shared by Ken Jennings, and the current co-host shared why he agrees the popular series deserves to be treated as a sport.

Ken Jennings, one of the winningest Jeopardy! players of all time, came back to the quiz show as a guest host following the death of Alex Trebek, and was named permanent co-host with Mayim Bialik ahead of the current season. Michael Davies is relatively new to the show, himself, as he replaced the ousted Mike Richards, and Jennings explained to Vulture why he and Davies see eye-to-eye when it comes to how they perceive the show: 

Our executive producer, Michael Davies, comes from a big sports background. I think that’s the right way to see Jeopardy!. I noticed this way back in 2004 when sports writers would interview me about my streak. They would treat it like an inning streak in baseball or something, and I realized they’re much more serious about the game and much more attentive to its subtleties than — no offense — entertainment writers. And so, I’m 100 percent onboard with Michael’s dictum.

None taken. Michael Davies — who has referred to himself as the “commissioner” of Jeopardy! — has already made additions to the brand that lean into its sportsdom, including releasing daily box scores, debuting an Inside Jeopardy! (opens in new tab) podcast (harkening to the term “inside baseball”) and establishing Jeopardy! Honors, the series’ version of a Hall of Fame. Ken Jennings listed some more reasons why treating the show like a sport makes complete sense:  

It has champions, it has tournaments, it has statistics. Attentive fans of Jeopardy! love that kind of detail and drama. You’re going to see more of that. Hosting the Tournament of Champions is such a thrill because you’re seeing the game played at the highest possible level. It’s our World Series. I want more moments like that.

Jeopardy!’s passionate fanbase surely agrees that a well-played game can be as exciting as any other sport on TV. If nothing else, the fact that Michael Davies, Ken Jennings and others steering the franchise have such enthusiasm for the brand and its possibilities should bring a lot of comfort and excitement to people after a tough couple of years without Alex Trebek.

The Second Chance Tournament is airing daily on Jeopardy! through October 28, ahead of the Tournament of Champions, which will begin October 31. Check your local listings to see when to catch episodes in your area, and take a peek at our 2022 TV schedule to see what other new and returning shows are premiering soon. 

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.