I feel like I should start this column by just flatly telling you all that I am a competition-aholic. There I said it, it feels good to get it off my chest. If two people, or ideally more, are competing, I want to be watching. To be honest, it doesn’t even have to be people. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily proud of it but I have spent an afternoon watching turkeys race at the California Mid-State Fair and wrote a whole article on it.
Over the last two weeks, Jeopardy has been holding their “Greatest of all-time” (GOAT) tournament between James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. I’m not a religious Jeopardy watcher but whenever someone starts to go on a run I start tuning in. Usually, while watching Jeopardy, I can hang ok, not that I think I would win but basically when the episode is over I don’t feel as though my intelligence has been insulted (not the case with these guys).
These guys, well James and Ken, are human encyclopedias but set to auto-kill. The recall itself is incredible but being able to do it in 0.12 seconds is absurd. I promise this is sports-related just hang with me.
Spoiler alert: Ken Jennings wins. Why the tournament was fascinating though was because it was the most picture-perfect storyline and kept reminding me of something in sports. Ken Jennings won the most games in a row in show history (74 games) and the most money in play (2,520,700) and he did so by playing the game the right way, or in my opinion the boring way. Meaning he would only wager a quarter or half of his earnings in daily doubles, final Jeopardy, etc and would start the board from the top down. James Holzhauer came into the game as a sports-handicapper by trade and burned the world of Jeopardy down to the ground by approaching it with a different mindset. James goes all-in almost all the time in daily doubles and final Jeopardy and also starts with the highest number in every category rather than the lower. He won more money faster than anyone thought possible. He holds the seven highest single day scores.
In November there was a “Tournament of Champions” show that James won playing his style. Well, all of a sudden in the GOAT tournament, Ken Jennings started going all-in and it brought a tear to my eye. Ken Jennings is LeBron James, he was the best and is the best again but in the beginning, he won by just being better than everyone at everything. James is Steph Curry. He came into the game like a streak of lightning across the sky and changed the game by distorting the math. After taking his lumps, Ken learned he had to shoot 3-pointers and retook the throne after humbling himself. This would also make one hell of a parody movie in the “Talladega Nights” and “Dodgeball” vein.
Ultimately James’ contribution means more because he fundamentally changed the way the game will be played henceforth but Ken proved he is the GOAT because he can beat you at his game, adapt and then beat you at your own.
Now for a quick local sports update. We are getting down to the nitty-gritty parts of the league schedule in all winter sports. If you haven’t attended a game yet, these are the ones to go to because these are the games with playoff ramifications and crazy high emotions.
Friday night, the Templeton Eagles boys soccer team hosted the Hounds for the second and final league game against one another this year and it was another great one. Atascadero needed a win on the road against Templeton, who are reigning league champions. They won the first game in Atascadero 2-1, and thought they had it up 2-1 with less than 10 minutes to go in the game only to give up a goal in final five minutes off a long throw-in that tied the game and sent it to overtime. After two scoreless overtime periods, the game went to penalty kicks with their second keeper Braden Gabler, who entered the game in the second half, and earned a 3-1 home victory.
The Templeton boys basketball team lost a huge undefeated league matchup against the Pirates last week that will go down as one of those rare defeats that you come away from feeling good about everything. The Eagles were on the road and playing without one starter and two significant contributors and it took the Pirates all four quarters to put them away. This week the Eagles will play the Greyhounds and the Nipomo Titans.