May 31, 2008

Bee on TV

Well, the 2008 Scripps National Bee is over, and it's time to comment on the TV coverage. I would guess it's only been about 15 years since the Bee was first televised, and we used to have to track it down on ESPN 2, in the afternoon. In the last three to five years, they started televising the early rounds on regular ol' ESPN, and the finals in primetime on ABC. This has resulted in some interesting changes to the coverage of the Bee. Outtakes show up on SportsCenter, sports guys interview the spellers during breaks, and this year, Tom Bergeron of Dancing with the Stars and America's Funniest Videos was on hand to anchor the broadcast. I'm not entirely sure how all this coverage affects the kids, but I did a little TV photography to help share my impressions of the Bee.This is Justin Song. He sounded, I kid you not, just exactly like Keanu Reeves, circa Bill & Ted's. It was driving the judges nuts, because one of their duties is to ascertain whether or not the spellers are correctly hearing/pronouncing the words. He was a bit hard to understand, but he sounded just like a normal kid from San Diego. I was pretty sad when he was eliminated.
I was fond of this girl, as she bears a slight resemblance to me in my youth. She did not have a poker face, and would look this thrilled whenever she knew how to correctly spell a word. Here we see an excellent example of ESPN's coverage. They do a nice job of providing the correct spelling, along with the part of speech and definition. I only wish they'd add the language of origin, and put the word up a little slower. They used to give Sista Cool and I enough time to try to spell the word before it flashed up on the screen.Perhaps one of the better examples of why 5th-8th grade students really shouldn't be on national television. Jahnavi had to do something wacky whenever she was featured.
You'll be glad to know the ESPN's graphic folks work hard to keep us on top of the results. I'm not entirely sure the gender breakdown is entirely necessary. For your ethnic breakdown, it was one WASP and two Indian-Americans.And here we have our winner, Sameer. An excellent speller, competing in his 4th Bee, he participated in the funniest moment of the Bee, when he misheard the word "numnah" as "numbnut," and repeated it as such with much surprise and shock. He seemed like a great kid.
So, that's my wrap-up of the Bee. I love it. Watch it next year!

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