(’97 champ Rebecca Sealfon with a moment that’s Bobby Thompson’s shot-heard-’round-the-world, “The Catch”, “The Drive”, Starks dunking on Jordan, Ali thumping Sonny Liston and Maradona’s Hand Of God all rolled into one)
DC Sports Bog’s Dan Steinberg has been blogging all Thursday long from the site of tonight’s 82nd Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. Along with scoring quality time with Erin Andrews, Steinberg’s been quizzing protesters (seriously) getting inside the skulls of the youthful contestants (“some turn out to be Gilbert Arenas-like, such as Nicholas Bernard Rushlow, who carries a lucky pendant with a photo of his Bichon Frise puppy, named cosmotellurian (‘relating to heaven and earth.’) Others turn out to be Ryan Zimmerman; one young chap managed to conduct an entire five-minute interview without actually saying a word. And still others trended toward LeBron James. ‘I don’t believe in luck,’ straight-faced Stephen Hartline of Ohio.”) Amongst Steinz’ tougher questions, “is Spelling a Sport?”
“If it’s on ESPN, that probably makes it a sport,” said Drew Hodson, 14, of Indiana.
“They have it on ESPN, so I guess,” seconded Joshua Casquejo from Jersey.
“It’s on ESPN, so I guess you could say so,” thirded John Flinn, 14, of North Carolina. “Of course, they also have hot-dog eating contests,” he noted, which was the proper response.
(Point of fact: for the first time this year, the AP is moving Spelling Bee stories on its sports wire.)
Others classified it as a hobby. “This isn’t athletic at all,” Bell argued. And then there was the final’s host, Tom Bergeron, from America’s Funniest Home Videos and Dancing With the Stars.
“Uhhhhh, no, I don’t think so,” he said, to the eternal question of is it or isn’t it. “I think sports require physical activity.”
Another eternal question concerns the real-world application; if these kids are neurosurgeons 20 years from now, will it help to know how to spell “koinonia?”
“We’re building brain muscle here, we’re building synaptic tissue,” ABC’s Bergeron said. “These kids, their ability to visualize, to retain information, to discipline themselves, to compete on this level…These are pretty motivated, type-A personalities. Who I’ve just annoyed by saying it’s not a sport. I change my mind. They might be the neurosurgeon I get. They might be going, ‘I saw that interview you did in 2009 with The Washington Post. Oops. Try walking now, Bergeron.?