Sidharth Chand Makes Detroit Country Day and State of Michigan Proud in Scripps National Spelling Bee

People mock the National Spelling Bee.


Maybe it has to do with the fact that Erin Andrews and ABC/ESPN are on the scene reporting it and half the people who normally watch Erin Andrews and ESPN affiliated shows have a bottle of “AMSOIL” on their nightstand and their fantasy baseball teams up on their computer screens.  They don’t want to be watching Erin interviewing 13-year old kids who know how to spell words with more letters in them than viewers’ IQs.

However, the Spelling Bee is always of interest to me because I love learning new words, words that I’ll probably never need to use, but probably will just to annoy the crap out of someone.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim to know millions of words because I watch the spelling bee or have in my favorites because chances are that about 10 seconds after I hear or read a word’s meaning I more than likely forget it.  I’m a lot like “Ten Second” Tom in 50 First Dates, if you catch that reference.

This year’s Spelling Bee is of note because Metro Detroit’s own, Sidharth Chand of Detroit Country Day was once again passionately representing our fine state in the semifinals and finals.  If you don’t remember, Sidharth was last year’s runner up. He stumbled on the word, “prosopopoeia” which basically means a personification or a figure of speech in which an imaginary, absent, or deceased person is represented as speaking or acting.  (Okay, I had to cut and paste that from, although I slightly recalled it from last year’s post I did on it).

Anyway, Sidharth was not going to let last year’s word come back and haunt him this year.  Not going to happen.  He was determined to win it all and nothing could stand in his way.

Sidharth came to the Finals rounds sporting his school’s color day attire; the vest alternative and the classic blue and gold tie perfectly done (or perhaps perfectly clipped on).  He looked like someone who was all business and not messing around.  Sidharth, a 13-year old 8th grader, even let his facial hair grow out for the occasion to let the other peach fuzzed boys and girls know that he was a man, a man that was going to take home the $30,000 in cash, an engraved trophy, a $5,000 scholarship, $2,500 in U.S. Savings Bonds and the pride of knowing that no boy or girl in the nation 8th grade and below can quite spell the way Sidharth can.

In Round 7, with 11 Spellers remaining, Sidharth’s first obstacle was “Reykjavik.”  Upon first glance you might think that my fingers are not aligned properly on the home row keys.  I assure you, that’s not the case.  “Reykjavik,” according to the dictionary, is actually a seaport in Iceland and the Capital of Iceland.  Sidharth had no problem spelling it correctly for the judges.  I assume the 13-year old frequents Reykjavik, Iceland.

No sweat.

Then came Round 8.  10 Spellers remaining as Tussah Heera forgot the second ‘e’ in her name in the prior round and was eliminated.  Sidharth knew a challenging word would come after that cake one he got last round.  The word? Apodyterium.

Sidharth starts to sweat a little.  The tension builds.

Apodyterium.  He repeats the word to be sure he’s pronouncing it right.  He gathers all the facts; etymology, definition, usage in a sentence as all the spellers do for good measure.  He’s ready.  Apodyterium.

“A-p-o-d-e-i-t-e-r-i-u-m. Apodyterium.” He pauses.

Judges toy with the kid’s emotions by letting him sweat (possibly even pee) himself a little.  Then it sounded.  The little girly, front desk-like, bell they have that rings louder to these children (and their parents) than subwoofers in a no noise neighborhood.  Sidharth’s eyes water and his run for Spelling Bee National Champion is officially over as no child can qualify past the 8th grade.  Sidharth has the competitive spirit I’m sure, but I doubt he’ll fail 8th grade on purpose to be back next year.

His exit in the Finals was disappointing because obviously you want to see your dark horse win the race.  However, Sidharth did his school and the rest of Michigan proud two years in a row.  He was on National television two years in a row (ESPN nonetheless) and didn’t let that bother him like the kid who fainted last year in the middle of the etymology or Kennyi this year who appeared to love the limelight more than anyone else.  Sidharth was all business and did his very best.  We can’t fault him for that.

There’s some good that can come out of this.  Other than sheer pride that comes with such an accomplishment for Sidharth and his family, he helps Detroit sports fans win arguments with opposing city’s fans.  He could provide us an additional argument for why our state is sweet or as a defense for “your state is full of a bunch of morons” comments.  Our response to those are simple: “Well, the Lions may suck but we’ve had a national spelling finalist two years in a row,” and “Oh, yeah, full of morons?  Does Sidharth Chand do anything for you? That’s what I thought.”  Thank you for that, Sidharth.  You’ve strengthened our state.

Congratulations, Sidharth on an epic computerless spelling run.  Now instead of that silly bell, you can resort to the comforting squiqqly red line underneath all your words.  It doesn’t always work, but I find it does the trick 98% of the time.  If you ever get down on yourself for messing up in the Finals, just think how bad it is for guys like me.  My dad has a lot of money and paid for me to win the 2nd grade spelling bee despite me spelling rock, “r-o-k.”  You achieved great things with your spelling capabilities and you should be very proud of yourself.  I know everyone in Michigan is proud of you.

About Bob Biscigliano

Bob is a writer of s(p)orts