Scholastic Scrimmage is a high school quiz bowl game show currently airing in eastern Pennsylvania. The long-running show is aired on WLVT-TV and is hosted by writer and producer David Graf. Prior to fall 1995, the show was hosted by Harry Price. From 1995-2017, Dr. Karen Walton, Vice President of Academics at DeSales University was the host. For the 2017-2018 season Joseph Pacitti, English Teacher at Salisbury High School, was the host. For 2018-19, author and Bethlehem Area Public Library Director Josh Berk was the host. Another version of the show is aired on WVIA-TV, currently hosted by Paul Lazar. A version was also aired on WPSU-TV (formerly WPSX-TV) from 2003-2009, for which Harry Price became the host.
Two teams of four players from Pennsylvania high schools field questions on a diverse range of academic subjects and score points with correct answers. The winners of each game advance in a competitive, season-long tournament.
WLVT-TV 39 version
The game is played in one round of 24 minutes with a half-time separating the round into two segments. The game begins with a toss-up question. Any Player from either team can buzz in to answer the toss-up question, but the players may not confer with their team members. Players must buzz in before time expires to answer the question. The first player to buzz in and give the correct answer earns 10 points and a chance at a related bonus question for their team. If a player answers incorrectly, his/her team loses 5 points from their score (scores can become negative) and his/her team can no longer buzz in for that question. The question is then directed to the opposing team to buzz in (they may not confer). If one of the opposing team members answers the rebounded toss-up correctly his/her team scores 5 points and a chance at a related bonus question. If he or she answers incorrectly on the rebounded toss-up question, his/her team does not lose any points and the contest continues with another toss-up. Similarly, if neither team buzzes in within the time limit, the contest continues with another toss-up.
After answering a toss-up or rebounded toss-up correctly, a team receives one or more bonus questions worth a total of up to 10 points. The team members can confer on the answer, but only the captain can buzz in to answer. Depending upon the number of bonus questions given and answered correctly, the team can receive 0, 5, or 10 bonus points.
The team that has the highest score wins the match and advances to the next round of the tournament. The tournament bracket is made up of approximately 32 teams from high schools around the Lehigh Valley (the exact number varies from year to year). At the end of the Scholastic Scrimmage season, the winning school is awarded $4000, with the runner-up receiving $2000. The winning team also receives small trophies, a large trophy for their high school's trophy case, and the bragging rights of being the best team in the Lehigh Valley. The show is currently in its 45th year on WLVT-TV.
In the 43-year history of Scholastic Scrimmage, Emmaus High School in Emmaus, Pennsylvania has the best record, with 8 first place and 4 second place finishes. Other notable performances are by Liberty High School with 4 first place and 5 second place finishes, Southern Lehigh High School with 4 first place and 3 second place finishes, Parkland High School with 5 first place and 3 second place finishes, and Moravian Academy with 3 first place and 6 second place finishes. Below is a record of the all the top finishers.
Past Scholastic Scrimmage champions
An "All-Star" version of the Scholastic Scrimmage 2008-2009 Season was taped May 19, 2009 and aired June 6, 2009. In this show, two teams were each composed of four players from different high schools. (Eight total schools were represented.) The final score was team Einstein (score-110) vs team Newton (score-85).
WVIA-TV 44 version
The game is played in one round of 20 minutes with a half-time separating the round into two segments. Most of each half consists of toss-up/bonus questions. Any Player from either team can buzz in to answer the toss-up question, but the players may not confer with their team members. Players must buzz in before time expires to answer the question. The first player to buzz in and give the correct answer earns 10 points and a chance at a related bonus question for their team. If a player answers incorrectly, there is no point penalty, but his/her team can no longer buzz in for that question. The question is then directed to the opposing team to buzz in (they may not confer). If one of the opposing team members answers the rebounded toss-up correctly his/her team scores 10 points but no bonus question is asked. If the player who buzzes in answers incorrectly on the rebounded toss-up question, his/her team does not lose any points and the contest continues. Similarly, if neither team buzzes in within the time limit, the contest continues.
When a bonus question is awarded, the team receives a bonus question worth 5 points. The team members can confer on the answer, but only the captain can answer (buzzing in is not required for a bonus question).
Two minutes of each half are "lightning" rounds. Each team has one minute to answer up to ten questions related to a single category, without interference from the other team. Players must buzz in to answer these questions. If a player is certain that nobody on the team is able to answer that question, that player may buzz in and answer "pass" to move on to the next question. Each correct answer is worth 10 points.
After half-time, play continues exactly as it had in the first segment until a buzzer sounds signaling that time has expired. The team that has the highest score wins the match and advances to the next round of the tournament.
The tournament bracket is made up of divisions corresponding to the intermediate units in the WVIA-TV broadcast area. In 2017-18 there were three divisions (Northeastern, Luzerne, Central Susquehanna), with a total of 44 high schools competing. (The exact number of schools varies from year to year, and other intermediate units have sponsored divisions in previous seasons.) Each division has its own single-elimination bracket, then the division winners compete against each other for the overall championship. At the end of the Scholastic Scrimmage season, the winning school is awarded $5000, with the runner-up receiving $3000 and third place receiving $1000. The winning team also receives medals, a plaque for their high school's trophy case, and bragging rights. The spring of 2018 was the 13th year of the show on WVIA-TV.
WPSU-TV 3 version
The game was played in three rounds of approximately 6 minutes each. Each round began with host Harry Price asking a toss-up question. Players buzz in to answer the toss-up question; the first player to buzz in with a correct answer earned 10 points and a chance at a related bonus question (a "follow-up") for their team. An incorrect answer incurred no penalty, but the opposing team got to try to buzz in and score 5 points on a rebounded toss-up.
Regardless of whether the team scored 5 or 10 on the toss-up, they got to confer and try to answer a follow-up question for another 10 points (in season 1, sometimes a two-parter at 5 points per part, but from season 2 onward, always a single 10-point question). The designated captain had to buzz in before conferring time expires to indicate readiness to answer.
A distinctive "chime" sound signaled the end of each of the first two rounds. At that time, Harry Price chatted with each team (from season 3 on, always the team that just played a Fast Track, see below), and at the downward buzzer that ended the final round, the team in the lead won, and advanced in a season-long tournament (seasons 1 through 3; see the section on the Tournament below for season 4 changes). The winning school received one scholarship which they were permitted give to any student to attend any Penn State campus. In season 3, each member of the championship team received a ring engraved with the show's logo, much like an NFL Super Bowl ring; this also occurred at the end of seasons 4 and 5, and all players received a yearbook of all the participating teams.
The final episode was an hour in length. In the first season, there were three extended-length rounds. In seasons 2 and 3, there were four rounds in the game (and two Fast Track rounds to each team starting in the third season, the second pair being back-to-back after the third round; see below). The chime signaled completion of the first three rounds, and, as always, the downward buzzer ended the game. Seasons 4 and 5 saw the teams play 5 rounds, with a Fast Track after each of the first four rounds (see below).
Changes for season 3
- The first round now had each team alternating answering tossup-style questions for 10 points and a chance at a follow-up question for another 10 points. On the initial question, just like regular toss-up questions, players buzzed in, and were not permitted not confer. Each team got an equal number of turns (usually 5 or 6, depending on time available). Prior to this season, all rounds used a pure toss-up/follow-up format.
- Before each chat segment, one team played a "Fast Track," a lightning round consisting of up to 10 short toss-up-style questions in 60 seconds, at 10 points each. Answering time was shortened to three seconds (from 10), and players had to buzz in for the question and could not confer. Note that a player needed only buzz in before the synthesized "crash" sound signaled the end of the 60 seconds. The first "Fast Track" went to the team trailing after Round 1, and the second one went to the team that did not play the first one.
- During the second and third rounds, game play was just like in the first two seasons, except that a wrong answer to an interrupted toss-up would then cost that team 5 points. A rebounded question was worth 10 points if a penalty was charged, 5 if not.
In seasons 1 through 3, the tournament used the following format: An opening round was played with all the teams. Then, additional qualifying matches were played with the lowest-scoring winners if there were more than 64 teams, or with the highest-scoring non-winners if there were less. Either way, this would result in a 32-team elimination tournament that continued until there were two teams left, who would play off in the hour-long special.
In season 4, because of the expansion to 82 teams, the top 8 highest-scoring teams from the opening round, win or lose, played in the round of 16. The next 16 highest-scoring teams, again, win or lose, played a wild-card round of 8 matches for the remaining 8 spots in the round of 16.
In season 5, there was no longer a wild-card round. Only the 16 highest-scoring teams from the qualifying round qualified for the round of 16.
In season 6, the 90-team field was divided into three separate brackets of 30 schools each based on school size. Each bracket was a single-elimination tournament in and of itself, except that each division's highest-scoring non-winning team from the first round was given a spot in the second round.
Changes for season 4
- The back curtain was now dark blue as in season 1 (where seasons 2 and 3 used a yellow curtain).
- The Fast Track animation segue was changed.
- In season 3, the words "Fast Track" flew in onto the screen as computerized ribbons in various shades of blue and white filled the screen. The ribbons would dissipate to reveal the screen setup for the Fast Track (see below), and the "Fast Track" text would fly out.
- Season 4 saw the Fast Track segue now more akin (to a degree) to those played to start each round. The top and bottom halves of a Fast Track title card (with the words "Fast Track" in duplicate, white text on a blue card on top and blue text on white on the bottom) slid in from the sides of the screen and remained there briefly. Then the card was split vertically and slid out the top and bottom to reveal the Fast Track screen setup.
- The screen setup for when a team was taking a Fast Track was changed slightly.
- When the yellow team (always the first team alphabetically) plays their Fast Track, they are placed in a large box on the left-hand side of the screen, corresponding to the camera-left position on set; in that instance, Harry is placed in a small box on the right-hand side of the screen. The clock graphic flies in from the right and the numbers angle upward.
- When the blue team (always the second team alphabetically) plays, they are placed on the right-hand side of the screen (with their camera-right position on-set), Harry's box is on the left-hand side, and the clock flies in from the left and the numbers angle downward. This was the setup for both teams, regardless of buzzer color, in season 3.
- In episodes from earlier in the season, at the end of the show, the box for the credits squeezed in. In prior seasons, the show would fade to a split screen of the set and the credits from a sponsorship plug. This has since returned.
- The final show featured 5 rounds. Rounds 1, 3, and 4 were the alternating tossup-style questions with bonuses, and rounds 2 and 5 were tossup/follow-up. A Fast Track was played after each of the first 4 rounds, with rounds 1 and 3 having their Fast Tracks go to the team with the lower score at that point.
- The final show was also the first to feature a live studio audience, as well as a balloon drop at the end of the show.
Changes for Season 5
- Popular culture has now been discontinued as possible subject matter.
- The "think music" that plays as the 10-second answering time elapses has been changed. The first two shows featured music resembling a futuristic echoing bell over a sort of muted stopwatch tick sound effect. Currently, the music is techno/hip-hop in style, and slightly resembles the original think music.
- The credits now appear at the bottom of the screen instead of using a split screen, as in prior seasons.
- The qualifying rounds now feed into a simple 16-team tournament, as stated above.
- Once in the 16-team tournament, the last Round 1 question for each team is given in a video by Penn State faculty (dubbed an "experts" question).
Changes for Season 6
- The 90 teams participating are divided into three groups of 30 teams based on each school's enrollment in grades 9-12. Each division plays its own single-elimination tournament (with a "wild card" team with the highest non-winning score advancing with the 15 winners to the round of 16), thus there will be three champions for the season.
- All episodes are 30 minutes in length, including the championship games.
- The team captain is positioned closest to Harry, as opposed to previous seasons, where he or she would be the second player out.
- The game was changed midway through the season (beginning with the "Rounds of 16"). Further changes will be made with each new round.
- The Rounds of 16 feature the following changes:
- The game now begins with a "Quick Quiz." Each team is given 5 short toss-up style questions valued at 10 points apiece. The round is untimed, other than a 3-second time limit for each question. Some cosmetic elements of the "Fast Track" carry over to the "Quick Quiz" segment, including the title card and the crash that signals completion of the fifth question.
- There is no longer a round where each team is given its own toss-up style question for a follow-up. All three main rounds (Round 1, Round 2, and the Final Round) follow the basic toss-up/follow-up format. A "Fast Track" is still given after Round 1 and Round 2.
- After the second "Fast Track," there is a segment called "Sights & Sounds," a round consisting entirely of audio toss-up questions and picture-based toss-up questions. No follow-up questions are given during "Sights & Sounds." There are 6 questions in this round (3 audio, 3 visual). As with the first and second main rounds, the end of "Sights & Sounds" is signaled with a chime. "Sights & Sounds" is the only round that will feature audio or visual questions.
- In the first of the three main rounds, a follow-up question may be a true-or-false statement.
- Though not strictly a change in the rules, the yellow team is given the first chat period, whether or not they got the first "Fast Track," and the blue team is given the second chat period. The introduction of the coaches and alternates (although still in static photographs) has been moved to the end of the chat segments.
- Because of the changes to the rest of the game, the three main rounds are shortened.
- The Rounds of 8 were originally set to undergo the following (cancelled) change:
- During Round 1, 6 of the questions were going to be in four-choice format. Each team would have been given the first attempt at three of them. Unlike other directed questions (e.g., "Fast Track," "Quick Quiz"), the other team could have stolen the question.
- The "Featured Foursomes" were set to add the following (cancelled) change:
- Between "Sights & Sounds" and the Final Round, an additional segment, called "Pick-a-Cat," would have taken place. Each team would have had a choice from among 4 categories containing 3 questions each. Questions could not have been stolen by the opposing team.
- The Rounds of 16 feature the following changes:
- Many cosmetic changes have been made, including the following:
- The set now has a brick wall-style background.
- Both the theme music and the "think music" have been changed.
- The on-screen scoreboard has been changed: a rectangle flies onto the screen and splits into the two triangular score panels. The triangles flip over each time the score increases; the number flashes briefly when a team is assessed a penalty. Sound effects are played when the scoreboard appears and when the score changes.
- Harry Price now introduces the show himself.
- The logo is no longer found on-set.
The past winners are as follows:
|Season||First Place||Second Place||Score|
|2008-09 (Div. 1)||Penns Manor||Southern Fulton||275-225|
|2008-09 (Div. 2)||Bishop McCort||Mercersburg Academy||275-255|
|2008-09 (Div. 3)||State College||Hollidaysburg||290-260|
Note that most winning scores are between 150 and 250. The higher scores in the Championship game in seasons 1-5 are due to its expanded length.
- The "Game Over" buzzer is never sounded when there is a tie at the end of regulation. Instead, the match continues until the tie is broken, then the buzzer is sounded at the end of that complete question cycle. Because of this, Harry never announces (or needs to announce) when a tiebreaker is in play. (Generally, questions with no change in score under these conditions are edited out.) However, the chimes for rounds 1 and 2 (and the additional rounds in the championship game) may be sounded whether there is a tie or not. When there is a tie after round 1, the yellow team is given that "Fast Track," and the blue team is given theirs after round 2. Similar rules are in place after round 3 of the season championship game.
- In season 2, Harry almost always wore a shirt and jacket, which could vary from show to show. In season 3, Harry always wore a blue button-down shirt with a small Scholastic Scrimmage logo (which he would later use on Huddle Up Nittany Lion Fans, a program based around Penn State football that he created himself; the logo was covered, as he wore a jacket over it). His shirt for seasons 4 and 5 is similar, except it is red. He no longer wears a shirt with the show logo; however, his shirt sometimes bears the WPSU logo.
- Harry Price was not the host for the first season (2003–04). The hosting duties were handled by Katie O'Toole.
- Owing to a reduction in state funding following a budget deficit in Pennsylvania, Scholastic Scrimmage was cancelled following the 2008-09 season. Eight WPSU employees, including Price, were laid off.
- "Scholastic Scrimmage". PBS39. PBS39/WLVT Lehigh Valley Public Telecommunications Corporation. Retrieved 21 November 2018.
- "Scholastic Scrimmage". WVIA Public Media. Retrieved 11 October 2018.
- Centre Daily Times, WPSU drops shows, cuts jobs.
- "WVIA–NEIU Scholastic Scrimmage Rules, 2015-2016" (PDF). WVIA Public Media. Retrieved 13 October 2018.