May 31, 2012, 1:55 PM EDT
We were all bummed when 6-year-old Lori Anne Madison was ousted from the Scripps National Spelling Bee last night. But the Lake View, VA, resident, the youngest competitor in the event’s history, doesn’t seem too broken up about it. In fact, Lori Anne appears quite happy to be free of the stressful, “really boring, really boring” atmosphere of the Washington D.C. event.
The word that tripped her up was “ingluvies” — a large, hairy invertebrate of the English language once thought to be extinct in the wild. Quite a handful for a six-year-old, but she almost got it. Lori Anne spelled it with an “e” instead of an “i”, and that was enough to knock her out of round 3.
Afterward at a press conference (yes, a press conference) she claimed that she actually knew the word — but just wasn’t into the spelling thing at that moment. As she told the Huffington Post:
“I was really disappointed that I misspelled the word. I knew the word,” Lori Anne said Thursday. “It was just too bad that I misspelled the word.”
Waiting for her turn to spell wasn’t so much fun. She hadn’t gotten enough sleep and came close to nodding off, and the hour-and-a-half wait “seemed like two millennia,” she said.
“I was just stressed. It was a really, really long wait,” Lori Anne said. “Overall, it was just boring. Really boring! Really boring!”
It should be noted that even though Lori Anne is quite possibly a genius (she’s home schooled because she’s too smart for private school), she is still, in fact, six. And that comes with the attendant character traits: most relevant of all, knowing an overblown spectacle when she sees one.
Lori Anne was more interested in high-fiving the other contestants than she was in actually spelling words for Samantha Steele. (The ESPN analyst was on hand because part of the semifinals and all of Friday’s finals are being shown on that network once again. This was once Erin Andrews’ territory, but I guess she outgrew it.) The rest of the time the youngster spent fidgeting in her chair and wishing she was someplace else. As I often do. But Lori Anne has an excuse — she’s a kid.
However, as Americans we’re obsessed with competition: and determining who’s the best at something means going all the way to the top. It’s not enough to hold local, county-wide spelling bees and give trophies to thousands of kids. We must determine who is the Best Speller in All The Land (medieval trumpets here), and that means a national tournament, and national TV. Lori Anne wasn’t the only kid whose nerves were stretched like a rubber band. Remember the kid who actually fainted on stage at the Scripps Spelling Bee a couple of years back?
Oh, and this just in: ESPN misspelled the word “South” in their spelling bee chyron graphic just a little while ago. So because you misspelled a word, ESPN, we’re sorry to say that you are eliminated from the competition. Fox, you may broadcast Friday’s finals.
Look, I don’t make the rules.
Creating a national tournament and putting kids on TV seems a little like child abuse, which reminds me, the Little League World Series will be here in a couple of months. Once again ESPN will beckon, and people will watch, because we love seeing kids stressed to the breaking point. You can see more tears in one Little League World Series game than in a large metropolitan hospital nursery. But it’s OK, because we must find out who is best and put it on TV … even if the participants are not tall enough to go on many carnival rides.
I suppose it’s only a matter of time before ESPN begins televising youth chess tournaments: then the movie Searching For Bobby Fisher would have turned out much differently. I suppose the question is, are we raising a generation of Jonathan Poes (the arrogant chess champion kid in the film), or Josh Waitzkins (the likeable kid who offers him a tie in the championship match).
Because of all this pressure brought on by being on the national stage, I fear it’s the former. Trick or treat.
Perhaps Lori Anne Madison had had her fill, and simply tipped over the board. Maybe she wanted out of the TV spotlight and to get back to catching frogs and watching Masterpiece Mysteries. “Ingluvies?” she might have asked. “You cretins, I could spell that standing on my head, and often have. But today I do not feel like performing for your amusement. Now if you’ll excuse me, these Angry Birds aren’t going to launch themselves.”
Rick’s Cafe Americain appears on Thursday. Contact: Rickchand@gmail.com. Twitter: @Rickchand.
Mar 31, 2013, 10:37 AM EDT
Since this will be the final post in the history of Off The Bench, I feel that this post can’t just be a simple post about an NFL player buying segways for his teammates or an improbable buzzer beater from a high school basketball game. I’d like to echo the sentiments that Rick featured in…
Mar 31, 2013, 7:13 AM EDT
As Opening Day of Major League Baseball is just around the corner, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels will be getting the starting nod against the Atlanta Braves. If you have been following the Phillies during spring training, you might have noticed that Hamels has been growing a rather impressive mustache. Below are just some photos…
Mar 30, 2013, 12:16 PM EDT
Back in 2012, Vanderbilt University’s baseball team pulled off a successful triple steal in a game against Florida in the SEC Tournament. Earlier this week, Vanderbilt pulled off that rare feat again in a non-conference game against Lipscomb University. With runners on first and second, Commodore manager Tim Corbin called for the steal and before…
Mar 30, 2013, 9:04 AM EDT
Back on Tuesday, the United States men’s soccer team traveled to Azteca Stadium to face Mexico in a World Cup Qualifying match. After the match ended in a draw, a group of happy United States fans celebrated the 0-0 score in the upper deck of the Azteca. As chants of USA got louder and louder,…
Mar 28, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT
In case you haven’t heard, Easter Sunday is the final day of Off the Bench: this blog will cease operations as of 11:59 p.m. on that date. So the day after March 31, there will be no new posts on this blog. The timing is fine: I see no reason people would wake the next…
Mar 27, 2013, 3:19 PM EDT
So the Miami Heat have won 27 straight, and have an excellent chance of breaking the NBA record for consecutive wins, 33, set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. Here’s a pretty good breakdown comparing the two teams. But if you’re like me, it’s not enough to know that Thor and Hercules were both very…
Mar 26, 2013, 2:35 PM EDT
Life as a lesser Belushi can be frustrating at times, I’d imagine: even though you occasionally get to be in films like Trading Places and be married to Courtney Thorne-Smith. Also you get to participate in Shoot-the-Puck contests at Chicago Blackhawks games. Jim Belushi was born in Chicago, so I sure hope he makes this…
Mar 25, 2013, 5:39 PM EDT
If you’re a fan of vintage tennis posters — or, you know, hot chicks — the you may be familiar with ‘Tennis Girl’. That’s the photo of 18-year-old Fiona Butler showing her mostly bare backside, shot by her boyfriend, Martin Elliott, and made into an iconic, best-selling poster in the 1970s. Lauren Davis of the…
Mar 25, 2013, 9:00 AM EDT
But that’s not even the most incredible part of this story. Iram Leon, 32, won the 2013 Gusher Marathon in Beaumont, Texas on Saturday despite the fact that he has terminal brain cancer. He ran the entire race while pushing his 6-year-old daughter Kiana in a stroller, winning with a time of in 3:07:36. That’s…
Mar 24, 2013, 3:38 PM EDT
Honestly, I didn’t think that a statue of a horned frog would scare me but the latest edition to the TCU football stadium might cause me to look under my bed for the next couple of days. On Saturday, TCU unveiled the newest edition to Amon G. Carter Stadium as a bronzed horned frog will…
Mar 24, 2013, 10:55 AM EDT
There might not be a individual in sports known for his wacky fashion sense than Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager. Over the years, Craig has provided the world and a bunch of NBA players cannon-fodder for his strange color combinations and for those of you who think that Craig just wears those zany outfits…
Mar 24, 2013, 8:33 AM EDT
At almost every college/professional basketball game these days, one lucky fan is brought out onto the court to win some sort of cash or prize by making a number of shots or a half-court shot. For most, the pressure is pretty high but for one Serbian basketball fan attending an Adriatic League basketball game between KK Igokea…
Mar 23, 2013, 1:45 PM EDT
After playing together for Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, it appears that Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips became fast friends with Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino. Back on Friday night, Phillips took to his Twitter account to show off a pair of size 6.5 Louboutin sneakers that he bought for…
Mar 23, 2013, 10:55 AM EDT
Over the last couple of years, it appears that college athletic programs have been trying to one up each other in trying to create the most creative-looking football field or basketball courts. Back on Wednesday, Florida International men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino revealed the latest possible crazy basketball court design on his Twitter account. The…
Mar 23, 2013, 10:09 AM EDT
Over in Atwood, IL, all systems are go for a fundraiser in which an AR-15 rifle — the same type used in two recent school massacres — will be raffled off to benefit the local youth baseball league. According to the people involved this is all perfectly kosher, and one lucky fan will be heavily…
Mar 23, 2013, 8:35 AM EDT
While it’s normal for soccer goalies to come up on corner kicks to create an extra attacker, it isn’t normal for them to take motorcycle rides back to their own goal. Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot of information about the below video except for the fact that it occurs during a soccer match on…
Mar 22, 2013, 6:46 PM EDT
Bigger gathering of villainy: the cantina in Mos Eisly spaceport, or Harvard University? The basketball team may be riding high right now, but things are not going so swell back on campus. This past August Harvard officials announced that 125 students were under investigation for allegedly cheating on a take-home test. And now, Harvard has…
Mar 22, 2013, 4:22 PM EDT
Don’t those dual hair parts kind of resemble devil horns? Isn’t his trash-talking style kind of evil? Is his shot selection from the pit of hell? Yes, yes and yes. Every good story needs an antagonist, and the NCAA Basketball Tournament has theirs in Mississippi guard Marshall Henderson. What we have here is not exactly…
Mar 21, 2013, 4:12 PM EDT
Anybody wondering what Andre the Giant would have been like as a college basketball player, look no further than Sim Bhullar — New Mexico State’s 7-foot-5, 360-pound freshman from Toronto. Bhullar, the tallest player in college basketball, has 85 blocked shots and led the WAC in field goal percentage at 63.2 percent. Hey, it’s not…
Mar 20, 2013, 3:45 PM EDT
This video proves once again that great champions are made to order, not born. The Allen Americans of the Central Hockey League, a Double-A affiliate of the Dallas Stars, had their Fourth Annual McDonald’s Night at Allen Event Center in Allen, TX, recently. This of course called for McDonald’s-themed uniforms (later auctioned for charity), but…
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