09/24/2004: Thought for the Day:
Speculation continues over whether or not "Jeopardy" superdude Ken Jennings has finally lost a game. CNN ran a story last week citing TV Week's report that Jennings lost in his 75th straight appearance after raking in $2.5 million in cash and prizes. Most impressive.
The reaction I've been hearing, however, only confirms my own feelings on the matter: it's about damn time. No one is denying the guy has a grasp of trivia that makes most of us NTN regulars look like pikers, but enough is enough. The gym I go to usually has "Jeopardy" on in the afternoons, and I grew so weary of that ferret-faced Mormon bastard I almost resorted to reading Golf Digest.
Naturally, I have no empirical evidence for how widespread this sentiment is. That will not, however, keep me from making sweeping generalizations like the following: America hates winners.
What's that? You thought Americans loved winners? Not exactly. Americans love it when a hard luck team finally makes good - like the Denver Broncos or the 1969 Mets - or when someone overcomes incredible odds or comes from behind to win it all (e.g. the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team). Americans like underdogs to win, which is why every time the Cubs or Red Sox are within 2 games of the playoffs in September, every idiot out there has to speculate about the possibilities.
The flip side, of course, is that we hate perpetual winners. Americans have short attention spans, true, but their memories are long enough to know they're tired of the Yankees, and the Cowboys, and the Lakers. If any Americans paid attention to hockey back in the '70s, they would've gotten sick of Montreal. No one is more fun to shoot down than a popular entertainer (who owns a copy of Thriller?), or a career politician. Americans tolerate success...to a point.
--Pete Vonder Haar
Len on 09.24.04 @ 07:42 AM CST