Gameday showcases ‘evolution’ of learning in ‘Jeopardy!’ Teachers Tournament open

The 2020 “Jeopardy!” teachers tournament debuted May 25, 2020, with a slight twist on the category-based look the show debuted at the beginning of this season.

The concept was essentially the same: take viewers on a journey through a series of “scenes” with large, bold typography front and center, inspired by the category graphics at the top of the syndicated quiz show’s digital game board.

However, while the words selected, “Educate,” “Challenge” and “Inspire,” certainly could be categories on the show, which is known for having a bit of fun with category names or the order they are presented in, they mainly  stood in as a typographical representation of “teachers who inspired us over the years and what they did for us both personally and professionally,” according to Scott Flato, executive producer at Gameday Creative, the design agency who created the primary Season 36 opens and the teacher version.

“For the visuals, we wanted to portray an evolution, a sort of cause and effect, of what can be achieved through effective teaching. When teachers educate and challenge students, they inspire them to achieve their goals and dreams,” said Flato.

Scene one features a sea shell depicting the “golden ratio” while the Statue of Liberty’s torch materializes out of the burst of light that kicks off the open.

This scene, which centers around the word “Educate,” also features three broad subject names in the background linked to each of the primary elements in it.

Between the first two scenes, a 3D model of a volcano zooms past before emitting a shower of sparks while a science fair”Plate Tectonics” display board opens behind it. Also featured is an “A+” paper, a scroll with spelling bee words on it and a muted library bookshelf background as well as a paper airplane that also doubles as a transitional element to the final scene.


In sceren, the paper iteration flies toward the center of the screen, were it meets an ascending space shuttle’s bright burst of propulsion power to become the Wright Brothers’ iconic aircraft — ideas that are both linked to on screen background word “Embolden.” “Spark” is represented by Benjamin Franklin’s legendary key and kite experiment, while a sprouting plant is accented with “Grow.”

Like most of the other Gameday-created opens for “Jeopardy!,” viewers can keep an eye out for some “Easter eggs.”

The first is the background of the first scene that features the age old tradition of having to write out a phrase on the chalkboard — in this case, it’s “I will watch ‘Jeopardy!’ every night… I will watch ‘Jeopardy!’ every night…”

The shell used in the same scene could also be viewed as a nod to the same of a human brain, while the science fair board features actual text describing what plate tectonics is all about.

Meanwhile, the scroll features a mouthful of complicated words — the left column of which are the winning words for the first five National Spelling Bee from 1925 to 1929. The second column includes a smattering of words from more recent years, 1987, 1997, 2005, 2011 and 2015, respectively, though “nunatak” was technically accompanied by “scherenschnitte” in the latter year after the competition ran out of words and ended in a tie.

Ironically, the Teacher’s Tournament started airing the day after the spelling bee was scheduled before it was canceled during to the coronavirus pandemic. 

In addition to these details, the concept of the plane and leaves have also been featured in past seasons’ opens.

One element that may look like “hidden” surprise but actually isn’t? The keyboard at the beginning of the sequence is actually plunking out random notes — not the “Jeopardy!” theme or “think music.”