Scripps National Spelling Bee Returns, With In-Person Championship on ESPN

After taking a year off due to the c-o-r-o-n-a-v-i-r-u-s p-a-n-d-e-m-i-c, the Scripps National Spelling Bee will get buzzing again this spring/summer, leading to an in-person championship to air on ESPN2.

Still, this year’s bee will be a bit different, with the virtual preliminary rounds not jammed into one intense Bee Week but instead stretched from mid- to late June.

“We gave up on the idea of Bee Week early on because we knew we couldn’t bring hundreds of people to one location safely,” the bee’s executive director, Carolyn Micheli, told the Associated Press. “We came up with what I think is a pretty exciting and creative way of structuring the competition across several weeks that will be fun for the kids, build excitement, and I think it’s a great way to cope with a difficult situation.”

A total of 12 finalists will then meet up at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World in Florida, on July 8.

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This year’s all-oral bee will also trot out harder words much earlier on, after the 2019 championship ended in an eight-way tie (rather than drag the rugrats into the wee hours of the night).

The Scripps National Spelling Bee’s 2020 cancellation marked the the first time since World War II the event had been called off.