The bee will be limited to about 200 spellers — a 64% reduction from the 2019 event, which had 562 participants, and about half the number that had been planned for 2020. A wild-card program introduced in 2018 as an opportunity to bring in more spellers from highly competitive regions has been discontinued, meaning most spellers will have to use the traditional qualification route of winning regional bees.
Another change: There will be no written spelling and vocabulary test to narrow the field to 50 or so semifinalists. Virtual format notwithstanding, the bee will return to its roots as a purely oral spelling competition. That means Scripps will have to use more challenging words in the early rounds.
The finals will be shown on ESPN2 and will take place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World on July 8, 2021. The national spelling bee started in 1925 and Scripps became a sponsor in 1941.
Learn more at The Scripts Official Spelling Bee home page HERE.
Susan Saunders 2/23/21