Jeopardy! has delivered embarrassing mistakes from time to time over the years, but more often than not, it's the contestants that are responsible for the blunders. This time around, it was the game show that made the error, and it was called out by viewers following a clue for a medical condition that was both offensive and inaccurate.
The moment came during a recent episode of Jeopardy! in which guest host Savannah Guthrie read a clue about the medical condition known as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which described the malady as "Grinch syndrome." Guthrie went on to say the ailment is referred to as such because the organ in question (the heart) is too small. The following day, the series tweeted out an apology stating that the clue was both outdated and inaccurate.
Yesterday’s program included a clue about postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). After hearing from the community, we found we used an outdated and inaccurate term for this disorder, and we apologize.
The outdated part of the clue was the claim that having a smaller-than-average heart is part of POTS, when in reality there's currently no medical link to that. Even if there was, one can understand how such a term as "Grinch syndrome," referring to a villainous Dr. Seuss character who had a small heart until he understood the meaning of Christmas, would be offensive to anyone with the illness.
Jeopardy!'s apology came after a reckoning online with many suffering from POTS, as well as organizations representing those with autonomic nervous system disorders. This included Dysautonomia International, which encouraged the game show to "do better" in efforts going forward.
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome affects the flow of blood in the body, and as a result, can cause dizziness when standing, an elevated heart rate, extreme fatigue, and other symptoms. The illness been increasingly diagnosed as of late, with those who've had COVID-19 developing the illness over time (via WebMD). Given that bit of information, one would think Jeopardy! would've steered clear from a question involving it, though it's doubtful the clue master responsible for the question meant to be deliberately offensive.
This isn't the first time Jeopardy! has landed in hot water for a question. In January of 2020, a question about the location of Church of the Nativity garnered controversy when a contestant answered "Palestine" and was docked points while another answered "Israel" and was deemed correct. Jeopardy! isn't exactly known for its mistakes regarding clues, but this latest controversy and another high-profile one just a year ago is proof that they do happen from time to time.