I geek out over anything that demonstrates the exceptional abilities of humans. The World Cup, the Olympics, and the National Spelling Bee are all incredible displays of human brilliance, whether athletic or academic.
At the Scripps National Spelling Bee, a room full of elementary- and middle-school-aged kids piece together bits of linguistic knowledge to spell words I've never heard before — and sometimes words that they've never heard before. The Spelling Bee is tense and stressful, and the kids who reach this level are fierce competitors. By the end of the week, only one of the 285 contestants will still be standing, and one will be crowned the champion.
I'll always be a little envious when I watch the spelling bee, since I was eliminated from my own spelling bee in middle school by misspelling froufrou (at the time, I was sure that couldn't be a real word). Regardless of the hangups 12-year-old Jennifer still can't let go of, the Scripps program is a great celebration of academic achievement.
We create drinking games for political debates and the Oscars, so why not make one to liven up the Spelling Bee? As much as I love this event, and I want to watch and support the program, it's easy to get distracted from watching kids spell words that I can't pronounce. (And, you know, I'm still a little embarrassed that I couldn't spell froufrou.) I started adding in little cues to sip my drink as a way to keep paying attention, and borne from this is the Spelling Bee Drinking Game.
Take 1 sip if...
- A contestant writes the word with his or her finger before spelling it out loud.
- A contestant starts over spelling a word.
- A contestant asks the same question more than once.
- The commentators mention the contestant's performance in a previous spelling bee.
- A speller from your home state is eliminated.
Take 2 sips if...
- A contestant uses every question at their disposal.
- The word contains a silent "m," a silent "b," or a silent "p."
- The commentators mention the contestant's sibling, who is probably also a spelling savant.
- A contestant knows they made a mistake before the bell rings.
- A contestant spells a word behind their name tag before spelling it into the microphone.
Take 5 sips if...
- A contestant appears surprised that they were correct.
- The word has two or fewer syllables, but eight or more letters.
- You can spell a word used in the seventh round or later.
- You know the etymology of a word before the contestant asks for it.
Finish your Drink
- A contestant passes out. (Yes, it really does happen from time to time).
Check back here in the comments or follow my Twitter account if you'd like to chat about the event during the finals broadcast!
During Bee Week, contestants will participate in several rounds prior to the finals. The finals will be broadcast on May 26th on ESPN at 10 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. EDT.