Can you spell "anxious"? The word is simple enough and even if you did have problems with it, it helps that you have it sitting right here in front of you. The words that the children in the upcoming National Spelling Bee will face will be much tougher than that. This year for the first time in as far as I know ever, it will be televised on ABC, national primetime television.
How cool is it that in a society where so much emphasis is consistently put on student-athletes excelling in the sports that actually bring revenue to their schools, there is now an interest in a competition like this? I mean ESPN is actually televising some of the competition. ESPN?! That's a SPORTS network cashing in on children trying to spell words correctly. Actually, ESPN has been televising part of since 1994. I am SO diggin' that. You couldn't possibly send a better message to our children today than something like that.
When you think about it, the Bee competitors put up with as tough as a competitive environment as any other "athlete" in sports. It would have to be just as nerve-racking to spell "onomatopoeia" in front of a packed auditorium AND cameras televising the event nationally as it would be trying to make a game-winning free throw at crunch time. Plus, these are little kids we're talking about who generally aren't accustomed to the pressure that people twice their age are supposed to be able to shoulder.
I can remember in junior high I thought I was the bomb at spelling so I entered the school spelling bee so I could get a chance to go to nationals. The first year, I got as far as either fourth or fifth. Of course I can't even recall the word I went out on. I do recall that my friend Mike won the whole thing. The following year, I talked him into not studying so hard for it so I would have a chance since I somehow figured he was my stiffest competition. As a result, he didn't win and I don't remember faring any better than I did the year before. Even then, I gained a new found respect for those geeks that can actually spell better than me.
It's also nice to see the infatuation has caught on with Hollywood. There was already the documentary about it called "Spellbound" that I still have to check out. Now there's a fictional movie called "Akeelah and the Bee" that capitalizes on the same idea but with a little sista in the lead. That one I should see in theaters so I can support our folks; however, I'll wait and catch it on dvd.
If you've ever had a chance to catch a little-known show on Classic ESPN called "The Cheap Seats", you have to see their episode where they're clowning the Spelling Bee. They point out the things we're all thinking but are afraid to say. Bottom line, those shorties have some hilarious reactions when they get words wrong AND when they're right.
My hats goes off to those little competitors. I might be able to take them one-on-one on the basketball court but they'd school me on Websters every day of the week. Oh who am I foolin'...in the shape I'm in, they'd probably school me on the court too.