A few days ago, Ben Nuckols, the Associated Press reporter who covers the Scripps National Spelling Bee every year, wrote an article about the toll Bee Week takes on spellers. I thought it was definitely a new perspective to see in the media, and interesting enough that I wanted to weigh in on how I feel about Bee Week and its effects on the spellers throughout the week.
The basic premise of the article is that Bee Week disrupts the typical routines of spellers--their sleeping, eating, and other habits are all significantly altered. This is absolutely true. Between stress and the slight time change, I always struggled to fall asleep at a reasonable hour during Bee Week. It resulted in a certain level of exhaustion throughout the week, although I was usually able to overcome my lack of energy while I was onstage (although late into the night finals after 10 pm, I started feeling more tired, which may have contributed to me missing a word). It is not true, however, that everyone can remain mostly unaffected by lack of sleep, and tiredness can absolutely be a factor in lowering the level of a speller’s onstage performance.
Another issue presented by Bee Week, in my experience at least, is that spellers often eat very little or nothing at all on competition days. The day is already busy, and most spellers have intense nerves to the point where they start to feel sick or lose their appetite. Some spellers don't eat before they compete for a number of reasons. This is definitely not good for onstage performance, or for the speller's health in general. It could exacerbate feelings of tiredness, or lead to lightheadedness, neither of which are ideal.
The stress from Bee Week can disrupt spellers' habits and normal schedules and routines. It can be extremely tiring, and it often takes time to rest and recover after Bee Week ends. However, the positives generally outweigh the negatives, and it's still one of the best weeks of the year. It’s even better if you remember to get enough sleep and eat adequately, even if you’re nervous. Good luck to everyone competing this week