BY Kyle Sarpong
As the end of the school year drew near during my time in high school, watching the Scripps National Spelling Bee occupied my time.
The bee began in 1925, and it always reminded me to freshen up my vocabulary skills. The kids on stage seemed like geniuses working countless hours just memorizing Latin roots and countries of origin. What I remember most was spellers’ reactions when they got a word wrong. The bee was first aired on NBC in 1946 and aired since 1994 on ESPN – but why?
ESPN is a sports network, and its most popular show is Sports Center. So, how does a spelling bee fit in the mix? My definition of a sport is a “physical leisure activity that involves a purpose.”
Spelling bees are not a competition in that definition. Kids memorize material, and prove it on the national stage. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the National Spelling Bee on ESPN, but I don’t know why it’s on that network.
Putting it on Nickelodeon or Disney wouldn’t generate much support even though it is kids-oriented. Putting it on CNN or local channels is a good idea, but the network station relies on the audience it is centered toward. I think ESPN is perfect because millions of
Americans watch it. Moving the spelling bee on the basis of a definition is unethical.
Moving forward, I’ll be discussing the topics of Poker and NASCAR on ESPN.
The World Series of Poker has been on ESPN since 2003. Has anyone ever wondered if it was a sport? The World Series of Poker is a competition dating back to 1970, founded by Horseshoe Casino.
I don’t know why ESPN puts poker on a sports network if it subjects people to get into the act of gambling. Besides that, club poker (WPT) commercials also air on ESPN. This is an online poker game where people play for a chance to win money.
I don’t know why Poker is on ESPN, but it could be a sponsoring thing. ESPN has a lot of sponsors, and with many sponsors it may require ESPN to air so many poker commercials or broadcast this many World Series of Poker. Even though I don’t know the validity on the basis of sports poker, and even if it’s a competition, it doesn’t belong on ESPN.
NASCAR has been recognized since 1947, and millions of NASCAR fans can attest to this also being a sport. Names like Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick have revolutionized the NASCAR world. In this social media age, the Super Bowl has popularized Danica Patrick and her Go Daddy commercials. Commercials or not, Danica has proved herself in this male dominated sport and is a role model to some girls.
The Indy 500 and the Sprint Cup have been on ESPN and were even televised on local networks. If anyone can run around 500 laps for 5 hours straight that makes them a winner.
Consensus? As a huge fan, sports come in a lot of different packages. You can’t compare spelling bees to football, and you can’t compare competitive poker to hockey. ESPN appeals to a large target audience of sport fans young and old.
Sports Center has been aired since 1979. In the past 35 years of broadcasting, they still fulfill the needs of most American’s sports sources. You can question the programs ESPN airs, but the next time you see horse racing, the spelling bee or even poker, don’t question and ponder why it’s a sport: