Scripps National Spelling Bee, America's annual tribute to idiocy in which do-nothing burnouts from around the country speak random letters into a microphone in the hopes that perhaps some of them will spell a word, is finally making an attempt to better itself.
Scripps organizers announced that beginning this year, the 86-year-old spelling competition will incorporate a vocabulary component, in which the world's nervous-est children will be asked to define words.
And their answers are going to count for a lot.
A speller's score in the vocabulary section will account for 50% of his or her overall score, which determines who advances to the semifinal and championship rounds of competition and who is bad and dumb.
Unfortunately for lovers of the board game Balderdash , the kids won't be bluffing their way through definitions they make up as they go along ("A piñata is a thing....that some people use...we don't really have a word for it in English…"); they'll be answering multiple choice questions about the definitions. Here's an example, from USA Today:
What is the purpose of defibrillation?
a) removing fibrous matter from vegetables
b) removing bodily hair
c) restoring the rhythm of the heart
d) reducing a fever using medication
The answer, of course, is C because, when in doubt, pick C.
Because the only thing less interesting than taking a multiple choice test is watching someone else take a multiple choice test (on a computer!), the heartwrenching live-spelling portion will remain the only part of the competition that is televised.
According to Paige Kimble, the competition's director, the new vocabulary section "represents a deepening of the Bee's commitment to its purpose" which is to get kids to talk and spell English good.
[USA Today // Image via AP]