“I” before “E”, except after “C” is a known rule of English. Well, at least it should be. But for the sake of this article, the “I” represents myself, and the “E” reflects ESPN, the worldwide leader…of sorts. The network’s attraction is 24 hours of sports coverage. And though I’ve often questioned some of the programming to find the significance of the sports classification, I mostly give the “World Series of Poker” and the “Cheerleading Nationals” a pass. After all, “I” am the same as “you”, and our hunger for competitive sport should control the network's decisions. Right?
In my attempt to wait out the offseason famine, this DOH-mer filled network tried to come to my aid. Demanding of something sweet, ESPN gave me the bitterness of the Scripps Spelling Bee. If you agree that this annual event is a sport, then stop reading now. But if you’re anything like me, allow me to finish the rant.
First of all, let’s take a look at four of 2008’s top spellers:
Sameer Mishra (first place)
Sidharth Chand (second place)
Samia Nawaz (4th place tie)
Kavya Shivashankar (4th place tie)
There's already an unfair advantage, because anyone going through life spelling those names, day in and day out, is probably likely to spell every word on the f*cking planet, regardless of language. This entire event could have been narrowed down to a one day competition, if contestants had the task of spelling the names of their competitors. That would shrink it down to at least 3 hours and 10 spellers, instead of the one week snoozer that our DOH-mers used to fill time.
Besides for the recognition of names, I also honed in on the appearance of the second place winner, Sidharth Chand. After a double take, I quickly screamed, “FOUL!” How many years do you have to be held back in school to be a seventh grader with a full mustache? This was Danny Almonte all over again! How could anyone not notice that this kid had more hair above his lip, at 12 years old, than I had on my testicles at that time?
Moderator: “First word, testicles.”
Contestant: “Can I have the definition and origin, sir?”
Moderator: “From the Latin testiculus, a typically paired male reproductive gland that produces sperm and that in most mammals is contained within the scrotum at sexual maturity, but is more modernly referenced as balls.”
Contestant: Thank you, sir. Can you please use it in a sentence?”
Moderator: “Bandwagon fans swing back and forth like the testicles of a Great Dane running full speed.”
Contestant: Thank you, sir. Testicles. T-E-S-T-I-C-L-E-S.”
The DOH-mers gathered together in 2008 and decided to provide more extensive coverage of this spelling event, including the early rounds, which featured international competition. Now, it’s one thing if you’re inviting contestants from England, New Zealand and Australia. But it’s pretty unfair when you invite contestants from homes with “English” as their second language. Did anyone really expect the South Korean kid to win? And if, by chance, you were eliminated by this South Korean kid, please make a note to not enter this contest again.
Sameer received a big trophy and $35,000 dollars for imitating the "spell check" feature, and I hand out another DOH-mer, this time to ESPN. My guess is that table tennis and squirrel hunting are out of season. You’re better off giving me a dark screen with an error message, so I can ask what’s wrong with ESPN. Instead of giving me a spelling bee, so I can umm….ask what’s wrong with ESPN. Chances are, if you spend time trying to convince the public that something is a sport, it probably isn't.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering how I ever fared against classmates in spelling bees. I was eliminated from a second grade spelling bee for spelling the word “cinnamon” with an “s”. Come on! It was second grade! What do you expect, when I have a last name that is spelt easily in many American households?