We Need to Save the Spelling Bee

The Scripps Spelling Bee needs to air on a different network during a slow sports night.
Bruhat Soma (left) beat Faizan Zaki (right) to become the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion.
Bruhat Soma (left) beat Faizan Zaki (right) to become the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion. / Jack Gruber-USA TODAY

1. Did you know the Scripps National Spelling Bee took place Thursday night?

I’m guessing you did not.

Ever since the Spelling Bee moved from ESPN to Ion in 2022, the event has gotten lost in the shuffle.

The Spelling Bee has the potential to be a great television event. First off, it needs to air on a real network, not Ion. Nobody does promotion better than ESPN, so it’s a shame the World Wide Leader lost the rights a few years ago after airing the competition for 27 years. But there are a bunch of other outlets, from network to cable to streaming, that would give the Bee a much-needed viewership boost.

Secondly, the Spelling Bee is the PERFECT event to air on a slow sports night. Thursday featured the Mavs-Timberwolves game, an NHL playoff game and some MLB games. The Spelling Bee should air on one of the dead nights during the MLB All-Star break. Or on a slow night in February. Or a night in August before the NFL gets started.

The reason why I’d love to see the Spelling Bee moved to a network with massive visibility and to a night where it can dominate viewership is because we have so few events now that the country watches together.

Before Twitter became the cesspool that it is, one of the best things about the social media service was watching things like awards shows, TV specials or a show’s season finale with everyone else.

Nobody watches TV like that anymore. Thanks to streaming and apps, people don’t have to watch anything live. They can watch whatever they want whenever they want.

The Spelling Bee is the rare event that would get people to tune in due to word of mouth. It would become the rare communal event in 2024.

You have to watch it live.

Thursday night, the Spelling Bee went to a lightning-round tiebreaker and 12-year-old seventh grader, Bruhat Soma, came out on top.

Sounds awesome. It would’ve been fun to watch it with everyone else.

2. What a night for Luka Doncic.

He scored 36 points in a series-clinching win against the Timberwolves thanks to a 20-point first quarter outburst.

He shut up a fan who was talking trash.

And he made a plea for Inside the NBA to remain on the air after next season while being interviewed on the show.

3. Watch this.

Then watch this.

Then watch this.

Everything in life is a Seinfeld or Curb Your Enthusiasm episode.

4. Would ESPN’s lead NBA broadcaster, Mike Breen, ever unleash a triple bang on a big 3-pointer?

5. The legendary Chris “Mad Dog” Russo was doing his SiriusXM radio show on Thursday as the Donald Trump verdict was being announced. The result was a truly hysterical double flub.

There was a lot of Trump material going around the social medias on Thursday with many people in the sports world getting involved. Out of everything I saw, I thought this was the most creative and fits perfectly into the sports media world that we cover here.

6. The latest episode of SI Media With Jimmy Traina features a conversation with Charles Barkley.

The Inside the NBA host discusses the possibility of TNT losing the NBA in the current television rights negotiations, his frustration with the lack of communication from Warner Brothers Discovery about the negotiations, whether the show could continue on another network, reaction from fans to the possible end of Inside the NBA, the awkwardness of still having to work next season for TNT if they lose the NBA beginning in the 2025-26 season, and the lack of loyalty from the NBA and what would make him decide between ESPN, NBC and Amazon if he became a free agent.

Barkley also goes off on CNN for never telling him that his show with Gayle King, King Charles, was canceled, he explains what could make him be the subject of a comedy roast, who the two nicest GOATS are in sports, the Lakers saying that LeBron James doesn't have a say in their coaching search, and reaction to his recent Caitlin Clark rant.

Following Barkley, Sal Licata from WFAN and SNY joins me for the weekly "Traina Thoughts" segment. This week's topics include the passing of Bill Walton, Angel Hernandez's retirement from Major League Baseball, the mystery behind the Dov Kleiman Twitter account and the latest story about a restaurant charging for a ridiculous service.

You can also listen to the SI Media With Jimmy Traina below or on Apple and Spotify.

You can also watch SI Media With Jimmy Traina on Sports Illustrated‘s YouTube channel.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: I’ve posted this video of Joe Torre as Braves manager completely losing it on the umps before, but it popped into one of my social media feeds last night and it’s always worth watching again.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.


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Jimmy Traina

JIMMY TRAINA

Jimmy Traina writes the daily column Traina Thoughts and hosts a weekly Sports Illustrated Media Podcast. Jimmy created the daily Hot Clicks feature in 2007, which he wrote until 2013.