Saturday, May 30, 2009

How do you spell ESPN? B-O-R-I-N-G

I woke up Saturday morning and turned on ESPN to watch SportsCenter and a spelling bee broke out.

Excuse me!? What is a replay of a spelling bee doing on the world wide leader in sports!? What athletic skill is required in a spelling bee? Standing up? Sitting down? Turning the page on a dictionary?

Give me the World Series of Poker or the Strongman Competition or Stephen A. Smith vs. Skip Bayless in a screamfest of egomaniacs but please don’t put shy kids trying to spell words I can’t even begin to pronounce on sports television.

I actually tried to watch it: The semifinals of the National Spelling Bee. ESPN had a color commentary assigned to cover it and even college football/basketball sideline reporter Erin Andrews was on “the spelling sidelines.”  The semifinals focused on a showdown between Kavya Shivashankar (try spelling her name, contestants) and Sid “The Kid” Chand who the color commentator introduced as “the boy with the mustache.” My first thought: Is Sid on steroids? He’s a 13-year-old eighth grader with a Adam Morrison ‘stache?!

Then again, the only performance-enhancing drug these kids might touch is caffeine to keep them awake all night and all summer to study.

As near as I can tell, spelling bees can last longer than Red Sox-Yankees games because the contestants are allowed to ask up to five questions (from definition to word origin to ‘could you please use that in a sentence?) before some of them invisibly scribble the word in the palm of his/her hand. This is spelling bee’s version of the four-corner offense. It appears they are stalling for time or making the mark of the Zodiac.

I don’t get it. What’s the connection? Why they show the spelling bee on the No. 1 sports network is beyond me. Why not bring in Dickie V. to exclaim “He’s awesome, baby! With a capital A!!!”

There’s very little action and animation in a spelling bee. It’s held in a hotel ballroom. It uses words that no sportswriter has ever used. And no one is asked to spell the name of Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski. Or Brett Favre, since his name pops up on ESPN all the time.

It’s time for the spelling bee to move to another network. Try F-O-X.


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