Are spelling bees sadistic?

Last year, somebody wrote to the editor of my local newspaper regarding my saying that spelling bees are sadistic competitions because they are based on chance. He compared it to a running race where each competitor has different, varying finish lines.

But does that make any competition involving chance really as bad and sadistic as the person makes it out to be? And, by extension, is life sadistic in that same manner? Is “survival of the fittest” just a game of chance?

In the game of life, it’s all about showing up. Who is the best or not depends on chance in many cases.

In your example, the spelling bees, think that anyone of the finalist could have been the winner only if they were only asked the spelling they knew! Does that separate winner from the losers? No. They all managed to show up at the final. They were all winners. Very little separates them.

Recognition that tells you that you are the “best” is nice. But that is not what the life is all about. You missed it if you think it is. You are not here at all.

ridix is right with this

I do it for fun. My point is, does anything that involves chance and competition(including life) really give some people an unfair advantage over others?

Ive never actually met a bee that can spell, but if I did I think he would be an evil genius :wink:

xD thats great bizla - here are some very big bees - hope they can not spell

everyone is unique - so unique chances and people - how should that be unfair?

then the whole nature anf the random alogrithms are unfair (why do I look like this - thank nature and the evolution) - its pure randomness generally and some genetics - you cant influence this so much

When you look at it as more than just hoping you get words you actually studied and instead see it as testing the ability to pick up sound patterns and making accurate estimations of what letters were involved in what order then it might not be near as sadistic as it seems. In other words the kids using their brains to create a sort of mental algorithm based on the sound made by the different syllables and the order they are said in, also utilizing what they know of the different spelling rules used by different languages.

I’d argue the National Geography bee is based more on chance, but you can get pretty far there as well if you bust your brain poring over atlases and history books.

This year the words pejerrey and tirthankara were asked alongside the word phrontistery in the same round. As a speller, I can attest to the chance aspect of the competition. The first two words are barely constructible, pejerrey deviating from standard Spanish rules and tirthankara harboring a silent h. The Greek phrontistery, however, has a mostly phonetic spelling, and the ph at the beginning is easily found because it is Greek.

I just reread part of The Lost World for a school book review, and I, interestingly enough, found out about the theory of “Gambler’s Ruin”, which in essence says that anything left to chance is unfair. However, I think spelling bees can be fair if the word lists are meticulously compiled so as to evaluate a word’s “constructibility”.