A really trivial pursuit

I freely admit that until about a week ago, I had no idea how many toes a regular house cat had. I also never knew that the real first name of Tubby Smith, head basketball coach at the University of Minnesota, is actually Orlando. Or that Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for president,

That was too bad, as it turns out, for me and my co-workers from the Herald-Star. Those were among the questions asked as part of the trivia competition held by the Steubenville Kiwanis Club on March 9 in the commons area of Steubenville High School. They are questions that no one on our team could answer, which meant they represented points we did not earn.

Those unearned points were missed dearly, as our score of 550 out of a possible 1,000 placed us 12th among the 15 teams entered in the event.

This was the third year for the competition, which serves as a fun way to raise money for the club. Teams could have up to 10 members, and as was pointed out to team organizer and Community Editor Janice Kiaski, recruiting up to that maximum was important.

The team-building strategy is critical – it’s good to gather a diverse group of people, each of whom has a strength in a particular area. For example, a person may have great knowledge about movies but know very little about sports. You’d want that person on your team to serve as a balance to the person who was an expert on sports but knew nothing about movies.

The more people you have on your team, the better. That’s why the teams with a full contingent did a little better than our six-person team that included Janice’s husband, Ki; staff writer Warren Scott and his wife, Mary, who works in the advertising department; and their 8-year-old daughter, Jessica.

While the stated purpose of the evening was to enjoy a little time with friends and colleagues and help the local service club in its efforts around our town, make no mistake, the competition was intense, especially among the teams at the top.

By the end of the evening, Guess Who’s Back? claimed the title for the third straight year. It’s the same team that had been known as Last Year’s Winners last year.

Many of us think of trivia games as being a fun distraction during a break in work or while enjoying dinner or a drink.

That’s not always the case, though, as Sue Busler, who served as the moderator, pointed out during a break in the competition. In Missouri and Illinois, for instance, you can find between 30 and 50 trivia competitions every weekend, with semi-pro teams working the circuit.

Busler is the sister of longtime Kiwanian Tom Timmons, who sold the local club on the event that is patterned after the competition her Kiwanis Club holds in Illinois.

She added that a target score was to get 70 percent of the questions correct. Last Saturday, our team fell a little short of that mark. When you factor in the free 100 points in mulligans that each team received before the start of the event, we didn’t even get half of the questions right.

That’s humbling, in a way, but it also sets a goal to work toward for next year.

In the meantime, I will certainly remember from here on out that Abraham Lincoln was mortally wounded with a shot from a .44 caliber derringer and that Martha Washington is the only woman who has ever graced a United States currency note.

It’s knowledge that just might come in very handy some day.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)