Make America Win Again

Published 9:45 pm Friday, May 31, 2019

Eight winners are too many.

History was made on Thursday night when a total of eight participants in the National Spelling Bee Championship were named co-champions on national television.

The finalists, including Huntsville’s Erin Howard, went word-for-word with the competitors until approximately midnight eastern time when the panel ran out of words. The eight co-champions spelled the final 47 words on the list correctly to end the contest in five-consecutive perfect rounds. Confetti fell from the season as all eight champions touched the trophy, similar to how a soccer team looks on a podium hoisting championship hardware.

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Eight champions, in an individual sport, is just too many, however.

The panel of judges went into Thursday evening discussing the possibility of dealing with multiple co-champions, as the day’s previous rounds took longer than usual to cut down to the necessary final 50 spellers. What the judges decided to ultimately do, and let all eight winners go home with the full $50,000 reward just isn’t a realistic reflection of life.

Granted, the participants may be geniuses and intelligent beyond their years, but they’re still adolescents at the end of the day. Sports are not just hobbies, sports are teachers and it’s where people of all ages can learn life lessons. Everyone doesn’t always win in life. There may be many people who are successful in a certain career field, but there is always a cut off number at some point. Many people work and make an amount of money that they are satisfied with, but there is still that exclusive group of the one percent in America.

Everybody simply cannot win everything in life. There are wins and learning lessons for everyone, and while these eight students have worked extremely hard to get to the level where they were on Thursday night, none of them really had the opportunity to learn the valuable lesson of failure. Failure breeds character, it teaches us how to improve and to never get complacent.

Without being picked third in 1984, Michael Jordan might not have ever had the necessary chip on his shoulder to emerge as one of the greatest athletes to ever live. If Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers never began their NFL careers as backup quarterbacks, if Stephen Curry didn’t fall to the seventh pick in 2009, we may never know them as the great athletes that they are today. With every great athlete and professional comes a chip on their shoulder. Even Lanett rising senior Kristian Story, who’s the No.1 athlete in Alabama, said that he’s not satisfied yet and that he wants to play in the nationally-televised All-American games and be known as one of the top football recruits in the country. Recent Lanett High School graduate Trikweze Bridges previously said that the biggest regret of his high school career was that he tied the all-time state career record for interceptions, and not set it out of reach for anyone else to catch in the future.

Within greatness always lies a hunger for more, and this is a lesson that simply can’t be learned without experiencing the pain of failure at some point.