- I applaud the decision to go into primetime with fifteen spellers, rather than risk having an extra afternoon round calibrated too wrong in either direction. When in doubt, give more kids the lifetime thrill of having that level of coverage. This proved to be a much better decision than a second written test as a cutoff, especially when knowledge of said results made live rounds futile for too many, or forcing a halt mid-round.
- Zero interviews with spellers after elimination. The kiss-and-cry area, while front stage, was treated with dignity and restraint.
- A minimum of cutesy packages.
- A broadcast which focused on the spellers and gave real insight on what made particular words difficult.
- Shourav. Mogollon. His mom's reaction.
Don't Do This Again
- Never, ever, ever consider the possibility of a written test settling a tiebreaker for the final outcome. That was a bad idea. Let it never come to fruition.
- I am still not sure how long the Bee should go before declaring a tie (25 rounds between the final two seems like a lot), but I do know that a competition featuring kids and hopefully watched by hundreds of thousands of other kids should not come close to overlapping with The Late Show. Yes, eliminating 14 kids (see above) takes more time than eliminating 10, but this event should never start at 8:30pm in the first place. Why not 7pm?
- Related: did the kids have water up there? That's a lot of time under bright lights, and the fatigue was evident -- especially for Rohan.
- Siddur. Siddur should not be a primetime word. I feel fairly confident about this. [Nor should clafouti(s), even though the speller erred on this.]
Not Quite Right, But I Don't Know What To Do
- The broadcast briefly addressed the topic of the recent dominance of Indian-Americans at the Bee, but in an unsatisfying way. The first time around, it was just a quick note at the statistics on recent winners, but later ESPN aired a prepared piece interviewing some of the spellers as to their theories on why - with one speller's talking about an ethic of hard work not quite coming across correctly tonally. There has been a lot of good reporting on this topic, whether on the importance of the North-South Bee or things like Gene Demby's explaining similarities between the Spelling Bee and basketball in terms of clustering, nurturing, and rewarding talent in discrete communities, and ESPN's overview was more glib and disconcerting than informative. During the Bee itself just might not be the right place for it at all.
Floor is open.