6:19 pm, May 8th, 2014
Scripps National Spelling Bee begins May 25, with ESPN and ESPN 3 televising the final three rounds, as God certainly never intended. Seeing young teens struggle under the scrutiny of hot lights and Samantha Steele is, to me, so very close to child abuse that we may as well call it that. Last year we watched a six-year-old wait for over an hour to spell “dirigible” … that’s entertainment.
What makes us as a society feel the need to expose our youngsters to the pressure, dangers and emotional upheaval of dangerous sports and competition? We’ve got nine-year-olds trying to summit Mt. Everest, high school sophomores trying to sail solo around the world, and then there’s the Little League World Series — the most insidious of our national youth time-wasters.
There are more examples in the slideshow below: our top eight examples of organized competitive child abuse. Why can’t we just let kids be kids? The answer is shrouded in mystery … but if any kid out there can figure it out we’ll award him or her with a giant trophy and the winner will then move on to the national finals in Washington D.C.
1.Little League World Series
Each year ESPN makes money on children's tears, and most seem fine with it. But if there ever was an example of a children's sport that should end at the local level, this is it: having it on national television just seems many different kinds of wrong.
But a group of adults decided that the best players should be plucked from teams and the season extended until school begins. And it's all based on which preteens reach puberty before their peers ... kind of nature's natural PED scandal. All in all, a sad display.
2.Scripps National Spelling Bee
Contrary to the premise of the recent film "Bad Words", there is an age limit for this. But here's an example of a competition that should end at the county fair level. I'd call ESPN pure evil right here, but if they didn't broadcast this, some other network probably would.
No, we're not referring to rock climbing -- kids are actually climbing mountains. This photo shows
Jordan Romero, age 13, atop Carstensz Pyramid summit of Mt. Everest, at 16,024 feet, in 2009. Jordan was the youngest person to summit Everest at the time, and yes, they keep records on that. So many parents are exposing their kids to the joys of avalanches and frostbite that the Chinese government recently had to ban kids from climbing Mt. Everest. Really. Whatever happened to going to the water park?
Contrary to popular belief, it's this sport, and not football or baseball, that's responsible for the most injuries to children. First of all, more children play youth soccer than any other sport. But secondly, a
recent study of high school players concluded that soccer resulted in more head injuries -- mostly concussions from heading the ball -- than any other sport.
5.Semester at Hogwarts
What parent in their right mind would send a child here? The best advertisement for public schooling that I can think of is that rubble you see in the background. Quidditch alone is enough to scare me off. How many kids have been killed on those moving stairs alone?
6.Sailing Around the World
Abby Sunderland, a 16-year-old from southern California, attempted to sail around the world, solo, in 2010. Not only did her parents insist that it was safe, but claimed that kids who didn't take on big adventures were missing out on life.
Of course this ended the way we thought it would: with
Abby's boat broken down and adrift off the shore of Australia, and two nations footing the multi-million dollar expense of rescuing her.
It may be hard to pick a favorite memory of your time at this school from "Ender's Game". Was it the naked, deadly shower fights? The endless verbal abuse by superiors? The laser scars? The crippling homesickness? Don't worry: graduation is next week, and nothing can possibly go wrong after that.
Youth rugby is insane. No wonder British kids grew up with anger issues and tried to colonize the world.