What’s a Trivia Team Cap’n To Do?

Two days ago, a conflict between one of the players on my trivia team – and a trivia host – came to a head in a comments thread on a Facebook post. It’s not something that occurred in a vacuum, it’s actually something that has been building up for well over a year. Long story short? Though they get along fine on a personal level, they do not get along when she is hosting a trivia game – and he is playing it.

It’s basically a “he said/she said” scenario. He says that when he approaches her to ask for clarification on trivia questions during games, that he is typically treated dismissively, and told to just “send an e-mail to the trivia league” if he has issues with questions, or she will say defensively, “I don’t write the questions.” She says that she will not listen to him because he treats her in a verbally abusive/berating way, and has even said that he has “yelled” at her.  Since these altercations only occur between the two of them, it’s hard to say whose side to take. He has told me he is repeatedly frustrated at how she seems to dismiss him – and refuses to listen to him. On her side,  I think she might have personal issues with him, and might not think he’s enough of a “people person.” I can honestly say, without any bias because I  am married to the guy, that he is NOT a bullying, berating or verbally abusive person! Is he inquisitive, maybe a bit unpolished, a bit rough around the edges and brusque with the way he approaches people? Yes! Does that mean he should be summarily dismissed? No! Some people are just a bit more socially awkward than others! Not everyone is naturally a smarmy, “give a glad hand” type of guy!

guysmiley.jpg

Guy Smiley from “Sesame Street,” who has been the subject of previous trivia questions…

On the other hand, if she feels bothered by him and is put off by his personality, that’s a tough nut to crack. She may have been involved in past abusive relationships with men that color her perception of all men. This might help explain her overly overly defensive stance she seems to take involving my husband (I’m not her shrink and don’t know her whole story).  But sometimes people just clash like Tex-Mex food and Mediterranean cuisine (I wanted to use something other than the trite “oil and water” reference…how’d I do?). People cannot be forced to like/tolerate each other. I have been involved in many such scenarios myself, mostly involving co-workers, but sometimes involving friends of friends.

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A scene from the 1989 movie War of the Roses.

For going on six years now, it has been the “job” of this player on our team to handle the answer slips, and when necessary, approach hosts to ask for clarification on ambiguous or unclear questions. And I have only heard reports of conflict involving this host, not any of the dozens of other trivia hosts we’ve played with over the years. Even when we put down an answer that we can prove is correct by pulling up an Internet page on a smart phone, she has repeatedly refused to budge. It’s not uncommon for hosts to allow more than one answer to questions, when presented with proof that there is more than one correct answer. Here’s an example from a Sept. 22, 2015 game at Johnny’s Grill in Belleville:

Supervillains – What is Magneto’s country of origin?

We turned in a different answer than the one that the host said was correct. One of our players managed to produce a web page showing that Magneto’s country of origin as listed in the comics was different from the one mentioned in the X-Men movies. As a result, the host accepted more than one answer to the question and we got our points. Good thing, because we wagered high points on it!

True, different hosts have different hosting styles, we get it. But utter rigidity – and refusal to discuss questions or  accept alternate answers even when presented with evidence – is not something we can easily abide.

cow, man a.jpg

A recent controversial question we had involved naming what animal is used as a mascot for Elmer’s Glue. Eight out of 14 teams playing put down “cow” as the answer for this question, which the host did not accept as correct. The only correct answers she accepted were “bull” or “bovine,” though it’s unclear whether anyone actually put down “bovine.” There was no mention of having to “be specific” with our answer when the question was asked. I feel a vast majority of trivia hosts would have accepted “cow” as a correct answer for this question, or barring that, at least have said “be specific” when asking the question! Even Merriam-Webster says “cow” is acceptable to describe bovines of either gender!

cowdefinition.jpg

Aren’t we living in a day and age where gender isn’t supposed to matter? 🙂

If this was the only instance of having issues with questions and this host, I would let this slide. But it’s become apparent that we happen to play with a host whom, for whatever reason, chooses to be kind of a “stickler” when accepting answers, much more so than other hosts with whom we’ve played. In other words, it’s her way or the highway. This host’s overly rigid M.O. is definitely the exception – not the rule. The players on my trivia team are a smart, inquisitive, literal bunch! We want to be SURE we are answering the questions in the most specific way possible! Asking us to not call any questions into question? Well, that’s like asking the sun not to set! And how does sending an e-mail to the trivia league to complain about a question – after the fact – resolve anything during a game? Hosts have the ability to resolve issues with questions during games, and it’s their call as to whether they choose to do so – or not.

It’s a tough call. On a personal level, we all like this host a lot – and we definitely like this trivia spot! But when faced with having a player who is upset and feeling like he can do no right with the host, and a host who cringes upon being approached by the player? Well, I guess chalking this up to “irreconcilable differences,” to coin a term commonly used in divorce scenarios, is the way to to. We’re going to take (at least) a one-season break from playing here, though not technically because of issues we’re having involving this player and the host! It’s because we have a player who refuses to drive his car to bars while he is riding out a DUI conviction! We recently told the guy that we are no longer going to be his personal taxi service and drive him to weekly games (unless he starts offering or giving gas money – or at least buying drinks for us every now and then). But that’s another blog topic entirely!

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