Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Most Competitive Event in Sports

by Ken Houghton

Tomorrow is my eldest daughter's sixth birthday, which can only mean one thing: It's Time for the National Spelling Bee Finals, the most grueling sporting event on television.*

UPDATE: For the video-impaired (at work, in Europe), results are available here.

Back in "the good old days," the Finals were exclusively telecast on ESPN and, during the day, on ESPN2.** Gradually, as the network realized that there was a small, deeply demented audience*** that was large enough to, say, compete easily with NHL hockey in the Late Bettman Era, or at least dwarf that of Glenn Beck.

The contest is sponsored by Scripps-Howard, which itself has been transformed over time, including owning Shopzilla.

There are memories for the ages: probably the best known is the joy of the 1997 Winner Rebecca Sealfon as she spelt "euonym" (see the video here, via Spelling Grrl).

Sealfon is now a Ph.D. student in biology at Duke; Scripps-Howard has been transformed from a chain of family newspapers into a multimedia behemoth.

Spelling continues. And, tonight, Disney/ABC has decided that "attention should be paid"**** in prime time.

*Context: Shira and I spent much of the afternoon of May 31st, 2001, in a hospital room at St. Barnabas watching the middle rounds (her initiation to The Cult). This was in no small part because the rhythm of the show matched rather well with the breathing exercises being done to encourage the possibility of a "natural" child birth.

**This was when we could really believe that there would eventually be an ESPN8 ("The Ocho") with arcane sports programming.

***Movie reference #2.

****Not a movie reference, although five movies have been made.

Labels: , ,

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?