Spelling is a Sport

Erin McKean tells us in today’s Boston Globe “The Word” that spelling bees are no longer just the realm of students in grammar school.

You remember those days. Every school – both public and private – in the Greater-Lowell area had a spelling bee that sent the winner to a regional contest – sponsored back in the day by the Lowell Sun. The winner joined others from across the nation in the big spelling bee. It was a feel-good feature story in the Sun when the winner clutching a new dictionary and the official “bee spelling book” shopped for some necessities in a local store with Mum in anticipation of the trip to DC.

Now things have changed in local sponsorship, the types of spelling bees and in the contestants vying for top honors. The smartest national “speller” champ is not just the nervous thirteen-year old but the senior citizen – probably a member of AARP. The pride of parents makes way for the pride certainly but also the fun and cameraderie of this senior experience. As McKean notes in her article – spelling is now a sport for seniors:

Being a good speller might once have been a kind of proxy for one’s education, but no longer: Today a few clicks of the mouse (or taps on the smartphone) are usually enough to get you to the right spelling of any word, so the good speller and the miserable one can move through the world on equal footing. Knowing how to spell difficult words is now a pleasure in itself, done for its own sake. Spelling is no longer really a skill: Spelling is a sport.

Spelling was never my personal forte. I’m one of those nightly “Jeopardy” followers who hopes to keep the brain cells active searching for that answer that I know if only I could bring it out of the memory file! But power to the seniors who pursue spelling as their sport of choice to keep sharp in the game of mental acuity. What next? a national crossword puzzle bee?

Read the full article here at Boston.com.