If you can remember as far back as last December, you may recall that a board game, Trivial Pursuit, was at the top of a lot of Christmas lists. Despite its not-so-trivial price of $30 to $40 retail, the question-and-answer game was often harder to dig up than Cabbage Patch dolls.
Operating on the theory that you can't have too much of a good thing, the three Canadians who created the game are marketing several spin-offs, one of which is—ta-dah!—All-Star Sports, featuring 6,000 questions on football, baseball, basketball, nicknames, numbers and a catchall category. (In Canada, hockey is substituted for basketball.)
"The numbers category is toughest because it requires the most specific knowledge," says Scott Abbott, 34, a former Canadian Press wire service sportswriter who thought up Trivial Pursuit with Chris Haney, 33, a onetime photo editor with The Gazette in Montreal. Chris's brother John, 38, an ex-hockey goalie who played for Colgate and pro teams in Austria and Denmark, helped to write the questions.
Abbott oversaw the production of the sports game. He was assisted by John Haney; Brian Hanna, a businessman and basketball buff; and Terry Scott, a Canadian Press sportswriter and baseball expert. Their common denominator was irreverence. "Anytime we could get something funny or offbeat or weird, we went for it," says Abbott. "We have a hockey question asking whether a goaltender has ever been set on fire during a hockey game. The answer is yes. We found a goalie in some league who stuck a package of matches in his pants. He got out of position and was scrambling back to the crease when a shot hit him in the pocket and ignited the matches."
But most of the questions are simply good tests of a sports fan's knowledge. "What we really want is the kind of question where, even if people don't get the answer right, they feel they still have a chance," says Abbott. Ideally, good players will spend many hours feeling they've got a chance, get about half the answers right and have fun the whole time.