Academic team makes the grade

“Jeorpardy”-like sport contributes to GMC All-Sports Trophy

James Nosek | Staff Writer

The only television show junior academic team player Michael Duplisea said he watches is “Jeopardy.” Duplisea said he enjoys watching the show because the structure of the show is similar to the structure of an academic team match, and sometimes watching the show can provide answers for questions during competitions.

“[‘Jeopardy’] covers a whole range of topics,” Duplisea said. “There are general knowledge questions that are asked quite frequently.”

Just like Duplisea, junior Tina Pan said she sees similarities between the academic team and “Jeopardy.” For Pan, playing on the team makes her feel like a contestant on “Jeopardy,” except there are three other teammates to help her out and compete in a match.

“[The goal] is to win as many matches as possible,” Pan said. “But not [at] all costs; [the academic team is not as competitive as other sports].”

A normal meet is made up of two matches, comprised of three rounds each: a category round, an alphabet round and a lightning round, according to Pan.

Pan said the category round includes eight different subjects and three questions for each subject.

“[In the category round,] a team gets two chances to answer the question right, [and] if [it doesn’t], the other team has a chance [to answer the question correctly],” Pan said.

According to Pan, the alphabet round is where each team is asked 20 questions and all answers, which begin with the same letter, must be compiled by the team. Duplisea said the alphabet round is unique, and having all the answers start with the same letter can be an advantage.

“[All the answers starting with the same letter] helps you because [knowing] what the answer is already going to start with helps you process a few answers in your head [and narrow down answers],” Duplisea said.

The lightning round is a speed round that involves buzzing in to answer questions as fast as the team can. There are 20 questions and an individual on the team has three seconds to answer each question, according to Pan. Coach Mark Wyatt said the team improves its performance through buzzer drills.

“We try [to] do drills and practice the speed of buzzing in,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt said that another major skill of the academic team is knowing and predicting what question the reader will ask.

“It is hard to teach and prepare a player for the range of questions asked in a match,” Wyatt said. “[But,] since we know the categories and since they are themed, a player can predict what the [next] question [might] be.”

For example, Wyatt said, two proceeding questions can often combine somehow to form a third.

“If a question asked ‘Who wrote this book?”, then [the next question asked] ‘Who wrote this [other] book?’ a player could predict what the third book because of a connection between the first two [questions],” Wyatt said.

Wyatt said that because the categories are so vague and since all schools in the state study different subjects, it’s hard to know which questions will be asked during a match.

“A lot of questions are just general content that the kids learn in class,” Wyatt said.

During practice, Wyatt said the team goes through an old question set and practices buzzing in for a question. He also said part of the preparation comes in the classroom every day at school.

“[The way I see it, the players spend] seven hours [in the classroom] prepping for academic team,” Wyatt said. “Your daily classroom doesn’t necessarily help [an athlete] on the soccer field, but it does help [a student on the] academic team.”

Although there are some noticeable differences between traditional athletes and academic team members, they share a common goal: the GMC All-Sports Trophy.

Over the last three years, the academic team has contributed an average of 8.6 points per year to the All-Sports Trophy, which is more of a contribution than basketball, football and baseball individually per year.

Wyatt said his team has contributed tremendously to the All-Sports Trophy over the last three years.

“I find it neat that [the academic team] gets to contribute to the GMC All-Sports Trophy,” Wyatt said. “It’s interesting that in the past, without [the academic team] contributing to the all sports trophy, [Mason] would not have won.”

What’s the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked?

“Name a certain character from ‘Lord of the Rings.”’
-Qian Wang, junior

“Name the regional number of the Pope who ordered the first crusade.”
-Michael Dupilsea, junior

“What is the county in Ohio that starts with an ‘A’?”
-Ananya Hindupur, senior

“What is the fourth opera written by Mozart?”
-Abhishek Ravinuthala, sophomore

“Naming scientific names of certain random animals.”
-Shakib Islam, sophomore

“A question about The Backstreet Boys [and] boy bands of the 1980s and 1990s.”
-Sahir Rama, junior