The Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee is one of my favorite sporting events of the year. You may not consider it to be a sport, but anything that has ESPN's Erin Andrews asking contestants questions on the sidelines ("What was it about conchyliated that confused you?") qualifies as a sport in my book.
Thirteen-year-old Kavya Shivashankar from Olathe, Kan., is the 2009 champ, after correctly spelling the proper adjective Laodicean, which means lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics. She's the second straight Indian-American student to win the bee and the 7th out of the last 11 champions.
I knew she was destined for greatness when she nailed blancmange in Rd. 8, despite the nearly silent B.
Despite those heroics of French derivation, I was rooting for Kennyi Aouad of Terre Haute, Indiana (right). He was all business at the mic, but hammed it up for the ABC cameras in between rounds. Hopefully he got Erin Andrews' number.