Thursday, April 11, 2013

Let's Just Set A Spell ...

The world of Sports & Leisure Viewership can be a wonderful place.  There’s just something special about throwing back a lager or two, watching your preferred player or team do battle against the day’s enemy, engaging in a little light banter with the supporters thereof, some verbal sparring, if you will, letting loose vocabularic venom, perhaps indulging in a bit of speculation as to the interspecies sexual exploits of their maternal lineage, even, on occasion, dabbling in a bit of physical joshery, a brief interlude into playful fisticuffs … it’s truly magical.

While I, to a large degree, am not prone to engage in overly emotional interactions in such settings, preferring instead to keep things at the level of anatomically improbable suggestions toward those rooting for teams opposed to those that curry my favor, and nothing more, I read an article yesterday concerning a rule change to one of the most beloved events our culture knows that simply made my blood boil.

Disirregardless of your particular favorite team or competitor, there is almost universal agreement in attitudes toward certain endgame processes in a number of events, including American Football, football, and ice hockey.  In each of these, if the teams remain tied for some specified duration after the end of the scheduled event, the winner is decided by a bizarrely construed tie-breaker only passingly similar to the original game.  Sudden Death, penalty shots/kicks … whatever the specifics, the issue is the same:  the outcome of the game is to be decided via a process decidedly different than the game itself.  (This is, of course, a matter of degrees, and American Football differs more in the criticality of scoring immediately, as opposed to football and hockey, which employ scenarios far removed from standard play.)

As I said wrote, attitudes toward such situations are almost universally  agreed to be bad; the exception, of course, being the Olympic penalty kick triumph of Brandi Chastain.

The rule change that has me so incensed is an odd twist on this; odd in that the conclusion of the competition will remain the same, but the rules for advancing to the final rounds are to be changed.

Whisky.  Tango.  Foxtrot.

I refer, of course, to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and their decision to add an element of vocabulary to their annual event.  Yeah, you read that right.  Rounds up to and including the semi-finals will now include some sort of hare-brained attempt at determining whether or not the student knows what a word means, as if that’s important in the real world.  Those in charge and who made this decision bombilate with rhytiscopia and galeanthropy and leave me with extreme gamomania.  You want a vocabulary test?  Fine.  ESPN4 is always looking for things to air.  But don’t try to dilute the purity of the spelling competition, where a word’s meaning is a clue to overcoming the challenge, and not the challenge itself.  Personally, I suspect an anti-savant agenda being funded, no doubt, by the lily-livered context-dependent self-proclaimed “linguists” over at MeaningMatters.

I’ll be writing a sternly worded letter, of course, expressing my displeasure, and I invite you to join me.  Scripps has stepped out onto a slippery slope, and the inclusion of vocabulary will inevitably lead to disqualifications based on intonation and inflection, and then … I shudder to imagine.  Please help me right this wrong.

Do it for this guy:

"Can you give me the definition?" - with some effort, we can keep this hallowed question from going the way of the dodo.  I can’t spell it out any more clearly.


The Bug said...

Oh I loved every last jot & tittle of this post!

The Dead Acorn said...

I always count it a good day when I get to learn something (but I've already gotten an odd look by saying "make sure you cross your Ts and tittle your Is).