Editor’s Note: This post is officially certified to be free of any spelling errors.
Spelling geeks of the world, unite! Our event is now officially a phenomenon. The 79th Annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee finals takes over the primetime airwaves tonight on ABC (8-10 PM Eastern, 7-9 PM Central & Mountain). Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined the event achieving such status and acclaim.
Yesterday’s rounds whittled down the record-size field of 275 to fewer than 100 as 4th-round action picks up live on ESPN at Noon Eastern (10 AM Mountain). Colorado’s Kayla Hudson is still in the mix. For the primetime finals, 10 to 15 competitors should be left standing. The question is: how many Americans will be watching? No, really … how many?
I always had the feeling that very few people cared. At least three times I was in the Michigan Association of Christian Schools state spelling bee finals. Three times I won. I hardly remember any spectators other than a few parents representing some of the competitors. C’est la vie. Of course, our spelling bee lacked the high stakes and high drama. And, of course, the words in our event were not quite on par with the fodder thrown at the young verbal whizzes on the Scripps Howard stage.
I can only imagine the tiny pangs of anxiety I felt there magnified many times to face the cameras recording tonight’s actions for a national television audience. Or maybe it pumps up these kids’ competitive adrenaline and adds to the viewing excitement.
To me, the challenge is trying to spell at home with the finalists. Just to see how many hours of studying the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary I would need to stand on the same platform as these 12- and 13-year-old spelling geniuses. Yes, I’m a spelling geek: I fully confess and embrace the fact. And yes, I’ll be tuned into ABC this evening for the 79th Annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.
Full spelling bee coverage, including live Internet-updated results, can be found at SpellingBee.com.