So, is Spelling now a sport? They show it on ESPN. Very exciting. Very tense. Very competitive. But even though they broadcast it on the Worldwide Leader in Sports, the BCs still vote an emphatic (from the Greek emphatikos
, from emphainein
) NO. How come? Simple. We were riveted to our couch during the final rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee this week on the #1 sports network, just waiting to see who would win. And then came the exciting conclusion!
At the moment that Snigdha Nandipati
correctly spelled “guetapens
” to seal the victory, the crowd went
silent. Friends and fans
leaped to their feet
sat quietly. The announcer immediately
paused and then paused some more before finally declaring Snigdha
the 2012 champion. Seriously, ESPN, you really need to work with those word geeks (from English dialect geek
, geck, fool
, from Low German geck
, from Middle Low German) on your end game. If you want to show the Spelling Bee on a sports
channel (Middle English chanel
, from Anglo-French, from Latin canalis channel
), you need to add some excitement to the conclusion of this competition. A trophy and a delayed confetti drop just aren’t enough. How ‘bout next year adding some cheerleaders, colored T-shirts, foam fingers or painted faces? Even better, how ‘bout if the fans yell and wave their arms to distract the competitor while she’s finger-writing the word on her hand? Now that
would make it more sports-like. That would be awesome (adjective \ˈȯ-səm\). Until then, it’s a fun event to follow, but uh-uh . . . definitely not a sport.
If the Scripps folks want to see how exciting the end of a real sporting event can be, they should check out the ending of last Tuesday’s game between the Tulsa Shock and the LA Sparks. Some might say that until the final seconds, Kristi Toliver was having an “off night.” Actually, KT recorded a WNBA record 14 turnovers in that game. Ouch. The BCs wouldn’t call that an off night, we’d call that a train wreck. But the great thing about sports is you can go from goat to hero, or vice versa (from the Latin), at a moment’s notice. And that’s exactly what happened Tuesday night. The Shock were up by 2; then Tulsa misses a couple of free throws (a former Dukie at the line); the Sparks rebound, dish the ball to Kristi, who sprints the length of the court, takes a step back so she’s behind the 3-point line, and launches a contested fade-away jumper as time expires. Swish . . . Sparks win!!! Now that’s an ending! (By the way, Michelle Smith has a must-read article about Kristi on ESPN.com – here.)
Mystics fans also experienced a couple of dramatic – but not so happy – endings this week. The BCs were in the Phone Booth on Wednesday and saw the home team make a surprising comeback against the defending (and currently undefeated) WNBA champions, the Lynx. Washington clawed its way back from a deep first half deficit to pull even (and briefly lead by 1) in the final minutes. But an offensive rebound and put back by Lindsay Whalen in the final second gave Minnesota an ugly win, but a dub-ya nonetheless. As the 2,500 or so (we counted them) Mystics fans in attendance filed out, we overheard some people saying, “well, at least they didn’t get blown out” and “that was a good effort . . . they put up a fight.” How sad, really, that the expectations of these uber-loyal Mystics fans, in the 15th season of the franchise, have sunk so very, very low.
And as it turns out, Wednesday wasn’t the only night that Washington fans had their hopes dashed in the final second. The BCs were following on Live Access last night when the Mystics faced the Sky on the road in Chicago. With a five-point lead and only 46 seconds left in the game, it sure looked like Washington was on their way to their second win of the season. But no. In those final seconds, the Mystics committed two turnovers and a foul, and missed a shot. Meanwhile, with a 3-pointer and a couple of clutch free throws by the Sky, the BCs figured this one was headed to overtime. No, again. When Chicago gained possession with 1.8 seconds left in regulation as a result of a Mystics shot clock violation, Coach Chatman called a timeout and designed a play for Swin Cash to inbound to Big Syl under the basket. The play was perfectly executed, and Chicago scored with 0.2 on the clock. The Mystics snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. What an ending. Washington fans, once again, wind up feeling like they’re on the wrong end of a guetapens (from the French, meaning ambush or trap.)
Heart-pounding wins, heartbreaking losses. For better or for worse, dramatic endings are what make sports so addictive. Come on, spellers. Next year, we know you can do better!