Spelling Bee Embarassment : Blog Of The Nation With ABC airing the National Spelling Bee tonight, Stefan Fatsis wonders if this is education or exploitation.

Spelling Bee Embarassment

Spelling bees are almost always awkward. Even if you're good at spelling, there's little good that come of a kid in their gangly pre-teen years standing alone in front of a full classroom trying to be smart and look cool. Add live national television to the mix, and Stefan Fatsis wonders if it crosses the line from education to exploitation:

Kids stammer, tug at their hair, and display preadolescent tics that are hard enough to manage in front of malicious middle-school classmates let alone a nation of living-room critics, sportswriters, and live bloggers. In 2004, a 13-year-old named Akshay Buddiga famously fainted during a turn. The YouTube video is shocking -- not because Akshay gets up and spells "alopecoid" correctly but because not a single person rushes to his side. "Stop the clock," one judge says in an unalarmed, schoolmarmy voice. When Akshay rises, the judge says -- without any way of possibly knowing -- "He's all right." As if.

The rest of his piece is in the Daily Beast today.