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The Scripps National Spelling Bee bell cam is brutal

The BELL CAMERA is the most brutal innovation to spelling bee TV coverage, and we can't get enough of it.

If you spell something right at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, a judge says "correct" and you stay alive. If you spell something wrong, that same judge rings a bell, and you know your time is done.

Somebody involved in the event -- the semifinals are on ESPN2 Thursday starting at 10 a.m. ET with the championships set for ESPN at 8 p.m. -- decided to have a dedicated camera focused on that bell that pops up just when spellers spell something wrong.

As if the face of a disappointed child wasn't enough, ESPN has added a on-screen representation of each participant's elimination.

Note the various array of smirks and "welllllp" frowns by the judge. (Also a nice touch: the way the presser sways up and down and up and down after the elimination.) Sometimes, she almost smiles, as if to say, "Really? The kid before you spelled "coccygeal" and you couldn't get "bialy?"

This is completely unnecessary, and we can no longer imagine watching this competition without it. We demand a camera that zooms in really tight on umpires as they call strikeouts at baseball games. Actually seeing failure no longer cuts it: We demand to see the person deciding their failure and announcing it, and we demand to see them being as smug as possible about it.

★★★

SB Nation archives: Spelling Bee Greatest Hits (2012)