To be honest, there are very few instances where I buy into the "everyone's a champion" approach to kids' competitions. In athletic events, ninety nine percent of the time, the winning team is the one that played better on that day. It's a level playing field. However, it's important to keep in mind that the NSB is not [big capital N-O-T] a level playing field, and it never will be or can be. No matter how much analysis is put into the wordlist in an attempt to keep words at an equal difficulty level, the truth is that the difficulty is subjective. Every round has "knockout words" and "easy words." Consequently, placing in position [N minus 1] doesn't necessarily make you a lesser speller than the person who placed in position [N], and conversely, placing in position [N] doesn't necessarily make you a better speller than the person who placed in position [N minus 1].
That's an important thought to keep in mind both when lauding the winner and the other spellers. Rankings shouldn't be blown out of proportion, because when it comes to the National Spelling Bee, everyone really is a champion. Spellers stand head and shoulder above most of their classmates in terms of dedication, persistence, and work ethic, and those qualities will undoubtedly allow them to achieve even greater success in the future.This summer, Samir will roll out "a Carolyn's Corner style National Spelling Bee preparation advice column for aspiring spellers, 100% absolutely free." Awesome.