Tuesday, May 29, 2007

They Don't Allow You to Have Bees in Here

It's tough dealing with failure in a marquee event year in and year out. When an athlete rises to the challenge and overcomes years of frustration by finally succeeding in the clutch, it's celebrated as a realized dream of redemption (see: Peyton Manning.) But when forced to hang it up without achieving that long sought glory, it's a cautionary tale of bad luck and despair (see: Michael Andretti.)

With that in mind, all eyes are on Washington D.C. and they are focused squarely on Samir Patel. Spelling is his sport of choice. He burst onto the scene four years ago as a 9-year-old spelling bee prodigy, finishing in 3rd place. He's got personality and attitude, as his post-answer sprints indicate. Where most kids ask for the root of a word, Samir tells the judges where he thinks the root comes from, then simply asks for confirmation. He's held the world of competitive spelling in his hand, but after a 2nd place finish in 2005, he was upset early last year, placing 14th - a fate which apparently now gives journalists free-reign to ask the kid about comparisons between himself and Dan Marino. Talk about harsh.

My prediction for Thursday? As the spirit of Dr. Alex Cameron carries him through the dicey minefield of silent c's, Patel comes up big in this, his final year of eligibility. He takes the crown and placing his name beside those legends such as David Scott Tidmarsh and Pratyush Buddiga who made the Bee the event it has become.

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