Did anyone else catch any of this week’s Scripps National Spelling Bee coverage, most of which took place on…ESPN, of all places?
Is competitive spelling a sport? Well, if it’s on ESPN, at least some people think so, and that’s a good thing, because never in the history of that macho-ass network has such a collection of mixed-gender, multi-cultural nerdiness been so celebrated. And furthermore, I can think of no other sport in which the amazing personalities of the young contestants have been so readily available, shining brightly under the lights. These are some stinkin’ cute kids, from 9 to 14 years old, with their horrible hair and braces, their goofy smiles. It’s priceless, the way they lope across the stage, kick ass by spelling “humuhumunukunukuapuaa,” and then lope back again, scuffing their shoes across the stage like it was their kitchen floor.
But really, the best part about the Bee is that it might, more than any other sport, reflect what our country really is, as opposed the usually whitebread “reality” we see portrayed in mainstream media (including mainstream sports). The Bee kids were all shapes and sizes, covering a wide swath of races and economic backgrounds. The picture above, for instance, is this year’s winner, Kavya Shivashankar, who correctly spelled “Laodicean” as her winning word. Kavya is from Olathe, Kansas; her family is from India. How American is that?
To further illustrate the point—an as an excuse to see how awesome these kids are—here’s a couple Spelling Bee slide shows/photo galleries from the Interwebs. The first is from Life.com, the second from stupid Deadspin (I know, it’s the second time I’ve sent you there! I’m sorry! They actually did a nice job covering the Bee.)