I'm not going to address the technical details of the controversy; Isaac's done that. Here's how it makes me feel, though.
As some of you know, I was a speller in the 1991 National Spelling Bee. I had participated in dozens of bees beforehand, but I had never made it out of my school until my final year of eligibility. That year, I got on the kind of insane roll that you normally see a Cinderella school get in during March Madness. I won my school spelling bee, then my regional spelling bee, and finally booked a place in the National Spelling Bee by out-dueling a fellow speller over the course of twenty-five or so words.
Anyway, making it to the nationals was one of the most thrilling events in my life. I've stood on the Great Wall of China, I've hung out on the Great Barrier Reef, and I've trod the streets of Babylon - and making the National Spelling Bee 19 years go still ranks right alongside them.
So I can totally imagine how bitterly disappointed spellers like Anvita Mishra are. When you're that age, fairness is a HUGE concept. If I were in Anvita's shoes, I'd be raising holy hell as well. I was a pretty laid-back competitor - I actually fell asleep in my chair the second day - but nothing would've made more alert, or more uncomfortable, than being told that I was getting more rest and study time simply because I was representing Columbus, OH rather than Denver, CO.
Look, life's not fair. Eventually, you find that out - I have, over and over, in good times and in bad. It's a hell of a lesson to learn when you're 13 years old, on a stage like this. While I think it's fair that the Bee is resuming Round 6 from the cut-off point, I can't help thinking that a fairer solution would've been playing out the string in the afternoon, and if you had wound up with four finalists, well, then, so be it.
Something tells me that's a solution that Anvita - and every other speller and spectator watching what ensued this afternoon - could've lived with. There's something that just not quite right about what happened - and as a result, it makes it quite wrong, at least from my perspective.