Tonight the NHL, NBA, and MLB take a backseat to the biggest sporting event in May – the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  While ESPN didn't quite take our advice on fantasy Spelling Bee announcing pairings, they are doing something with the broadcast that could draw in a few more spelling aficionados to the telecast.  Throughout the bee, ESPN's online channel ESPN3 will be airing a "play along" version where viewers can test their own spelling knowledge and the words won't appear until the end of the spelling attempt…

"ESPN will mark its 20th year of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN with 14 live hours of competition across three networks – ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3 – beginning Wednesday, May 29, at 8 a.m. ET, through Thursday, May 30, at 10 p.m. SportsCenter anchor Sage Steele will host. Paul A. Loeffler, a former Bee finalist, returns as the TV word analyst, and Samantha Ponder will be the reporter.

Throughout the competition, ESPN3 will feature a “Play Along” version where fans will have the option to view coverage without seeing the word until the last second so they can test their own spelling skills while watching the champion spellers."

There's nothing that can knock you down a peg or two quite like getting outspelled by middle schoolers.  I still don't know quite how the Spelling Bee relates to sports, but I know my year of sports fandom would be incomplete without it.  

As a county-wide spelling bee veteran myself, I may give the home version a shot, if only to exercise the demons of misspelling "obsequious" and suffering an early exit in my one shot at spelling glory.  If only I had Google search to help me spellcheck in 5th grade…


About Matt Yoder

Award winning sportswriter at The Comeback and Awful Announcing. The biggest cat in the whole wide world.