Commentary

The sports buzz at the spelling bee

Originally Published: June 4, 2010
By DJ Gallo | Page 2

Spelling not a sport? Absurd! For one thing, you can't spell "sport" without spelling. Duh. And, for another, many spelling bee words have great uses in sports contexts.

Check it out. These are actual words used so far at the 2010 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

dromomania -- n -- a passion for traveling.

Phil Jackson advised the officials to be aware of Steve Nash's dromomania.

theurgy -- n -- the working of a divine or supernatural agency in human affairs.

On film it looked like a breakdown in containment and some tough running, but Tim Tebow insisted his touchdown was due to theurgy.

pleonasm -- n -- the use of more words than are necessary to express an idea; redundancy.

The players looked around the locker room and sighed as their coach began another pre-game speech full of cliché and pleonasm.

retinue -- n -- a body of retainers in attendance upon an important personage.

The athlete's Vice President of Having My iPhone Charged insisted he was not in any sort of posse or retinue.

recidivist -- n -- one who has a repeated, chronic tendency toward antisocial behavior.

Shaving his mullet showed that Ben Roethlisberger was serious about ending his days as a recidivist.

tahini -- n -- a thick paste made from ground sesame seeds; popular in the Middle East and with vegetarians.

Prince Fielder likes to eat tahini that was deep-fried and then covered in chocolate.

dandiacal -- n -- a man who is excessively concerned about his clothes and appearance; a fop.

Tom Brady's teammates didn't care if he was a dandiacal as long as he performed on the field.

effluvium -- n -- a slight or invisible exhalation of vapor, especially one that is disagreeable or noxious.

Unfortunately, the effluvium didn't ease his discomfort; Alvin Gentry needed to vomit.

logomachy -- n -- an argument or debate marked by the reckless or incorrect use of words.

The rival athletes' Twitter battle was plagued by logomachy.

zephyr -- n -- a gentle, mild breeze.

With Javier Vazquez on the mound and a zephyr blowing out to right, the Yankees knew they would have to score a lot to win.

manciple -- n -- an officer or steward of a college authorized to purchase provisions.

USC officials denied that the athletic department's manciple ever gave cash or goods to players.

allargando -- adv or adj -- becoming slower and broader.

While his nickname was "The Big Aristotle" early in his career, today Shaquille O'Neal could be called "The Big Allargando."

ornithoscopy -- n -- observation of birds and their habits.

The Celtics fan had a shrine to Larry Bird in his den, but was not truly a practitioner of ornithoscopy.

ursine -- adj -- of or pertaining to a bear or bears.

Sharp claws, hibernation, a strong sense of smell and failing to make the playoffs could all be considered ursine qualities.

gudgeon -- n -- a person who is easily duped.

The gudgeon was easily drawn offside by Peyton Manning's hard count.

poultice -- n -- a soft, moist mass of cloth, bread, meal, herbs, etc., applied hot as a medicament to the body.

After testing positive for steroids, the athlete claimed he had been the victim of a tainted poultice.

nimbus -- n -- a cloud, aura, atmosphere, etc., surrounding a person or thing; a halo.

The Bulls GM was pretty sure he saw a nimbus around LeBron's head.

chapeau -- n -- a hat, usually low-crowned with a turned-up brim.

Dwyane Wade showed up at the postgame news conference wearing a ridiculous chapeau.

vibrissa -- n -- stiff, bristly hairs growing about the mouth of certain animals, as a whisker of a cat.

Probably even more recognizable than his low-post game was Pau Gasol's growth of vibrissa.

nummular -- adj -- pertaining to coins or money.

LeBron said playing for a champion was his primary goal, but everyone knew he also had nummular concerns.

zeitgeber -- n -- an environmental cue, as the length of daylight or the degree of temperature, that helps to regulate the cycles of an organism's biological clock.

The warming temperatures served as a zeitgeber for the lineman to begin shedding weight in time for football season.

dragoman -- n -- a professional interpreter.

Although he was born in the United States and English was his only language, the Phillies considered hiring a dragoman for Charlie Manuel.

blastema -- n -- an aggregation of cells in an early embryo, capable of differentiation into specialized tissue and organs.

Rumor has it that while still just a blastema, Bryce Harper hit a 500-foot home run.

rallentando -- adv or adj -- slackening; becoming slower.

Sensing the piece was becoming more and more rallentando, the columnist stopped writing.


DJ Gallo is the founder of SportsPickle.com. His first book, "SportsPickle Presents: The View from the Upper Deck," is available from only the finest bargain book retailers. His next book project will be released soon. You can follow him on Twitter at @DJGalloESPN.


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