And, by disappointment, I mean that I am disappointed in about half the internet using population. But, I’ll get to that.
I don’t care about the Super Bowl, the World Cup, or any other major sports competition. In all fairness, I don’t even give a damned about the Oscars. I understand why people get so excited about these things, but any competitiveness that might be in my gene pool just completely skipped me.
But, I digress. There is one competition that will keep me on the edge of my seat – cheering and clapping like a complete fool: The Scripps National Spelling Bee. Like I posted last year, I don’t miss a minute of the Quarter, Semi, or Finals. This year I had two favorites -
Ashwin – because of his demeanor, ability, and because I was cheering his sister on the year she won.
Sriram – because he’d moved up the ranks every single year and this was his last shot.
When Ashwin was knocked out, I was very disappointed – but in true Bee style, the competition plowed forward quickly and I didn’t have time to dwell. His ouster invoked the 25 word championship round. I held my breath through the entire round when both Ansun and Sriram misspelled a word in the same round. By the time they were down to 10 words left, I was on the edge of my seat, screaming and clapping every time they spelled correctly and hoping that neither would be knocked out because they were both brilliant and deserving. When, with the championship word list (and me) exhausted, they were announced as very stunned co-Champions, there’s no telling what my neighbors must have thought was happening in my house. They both deserved it. And I think that my love of this event was summed up when Sriram said, “We both knew that we were competing against the dictionary, not each other.”
Then, I woke up to the internet. News of two winners prompted idiotic remarks on the Boston.com story about how this was like Little League where everyone gets a trophy for participating. These comments were obviously made by trolls who hadn’t watched the same fight to the death I had- so I let it slide… mostly.
And then things got worse. Jacob Williamson.
Every year there’s a kid with a ton of personality and somewhat questionable social skills (sometimes more than one), and they are incredibly fun to watch and a pleasure to root for – because as any nerd would know, there’s a little bit of that kid in all of us. When he left the competition, it was in a mixture of a blaze of glory and crushing disappointment. He went out on a word that he knew, but he got too excited and made a mistake. My news-feed was full of this kid’s picture this morning with insulting headlines and even worse comments from the internet peanut gallery. I haven’t watched any of the attached video recaps of his devastating final spelling even though they are all tagged “hilarious” and other descriptors that I seriously doubt. Because, when I watched it happen last night, it was gut wrenching, not hilarious. Sometimes people seem to forget that not only are they talking about a kid, but a kid who has internet access and can see all the asinine things being said.
Overall, last night was the single best National Spelling Bee I’ve ever seen. If you missed it, I highly recommend skipping over to ESPN and watching at least the final round (if you have access through your cable company).
Congratulations to Sriram and Ansun – the first time since 1962 that there have been co-champions and you both deserve the honor. All of these contestants work harder on this than I’ve ever worked for anything in my life; my hat’s off to all of the contestants.
(if you’re wondering what happened to my personal challenge; I paid my coworker $100 fail-money and told him never to mention it again)