On Nov. 8, “Jeopardy!” host George Alexander Trebek passed away after a long fight with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Trebek had hosted the famed trivia show since its first episode in 1984, according to the official “Jeopardy” website. Along with acting as the show’s sole host for decades, Trebek marks the first celebrity passing to make me well up in tears.
In a sense, Trebek felt like an unsung member of my family: after dinner, my parents and siblings would surround the TV to watch “Jeopardy!” together. Every weekday at 7:30 p.m.. In my earliest memories of watching, I remember feeling like the smartest kid ever answering a question right. As a teenager, right answers still felt great, especially when they related to my course materials.
I view game shows as a source of televised innocence: programming dedicated solely to the happiness of all parties involved. Every episode of shows such as “Price is Right,” “Family Feud,” and “Jeopardy!” radiate positivity and high energy. In fact, the show’s are masterful at utilizing their simple premises to engage audiences. I remember exciting moments arising from three pieces of information: a contestant’s name, the contestant’s home town, and the ludicrous amount of money potentially won in 30 seconds.
As I matured, however, I increasingly appreciated the charm of “Jeopardy!” The show’s elegant yet inviting tone was regulated by Trebek. As a host, Trebek was modest, articulate, and always seemed appreciative of each contestant. While obviously televised, Trebek’s demeanor made the program feel as a celebration of knowledge.
Speaking of celebrating knowledge, I loved the show’s constant featuring of both educators and students. As a son of a teacher, educators being spotlighted nationally for their students is an admirable act. In addition, education enthusiasts can win thousands by using their knowledge to answer the show’s questions.
Trebek’s recognition of learning went beyond the show itself. For example, in 2015, Trebek donated $1 million to Fordham University in New York, according to The Wall Street Journal. The show’s website lists the “Peabody Award” and “Media Access Award” as accolades of the program. The “Peabody Award” focuses on educational encouragement, while “Media Access Award” is given for, “honoring, highlighting and promoting disability and its depiction in film, television and new media.”
Along with empathizing with Trebek’s support of education, I sympathized with Trebek during his battle with cancer. On March 6, 2019, Trebek announced he was fighting stage 4 pancreatic cancer. This specific stage and form of cancer has a 1 percent survival rate, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine. Despite battling this ruthless disease, Trebek continued to host the show until his 2020 passing.
Trebek was an exceptional individual leading an exceptional program. It’s heart-wrenching to know Trebek won’t be returning in future programs. Hopefully, those fortunate enough to have been positively impacted by the show honor it by encouraging the spread of knowledge. All in all, while “Jeopardy!” won’t be the same without Trebek, I’m excited to read news of the show’s continued positive impact. Truly, from both me and my family: thank you Alex.