Okay, the National Geographic Bee isn't being shown live; it ended in late May. But you can watch some of the competition beginning tonight at 6:30 PM on Nat Geo Wild, a cable channel that you actually might get, even if you think you don't. It is the home of shows like Crimes Against Nature and Python Hunters and the awesomely named Rebel Monkeys, but tonight, it gives itself over for 30 minutes to academics. The competition will run all this week.
Basically, this is a super-hard-core competition for kids who think about geography the way kids who can spell chemicals that haven't been invented yet think about spelling. Here's host Alex Trebek (who will be there this year, too) offering up the last couple of questions in the 2009 GeoBee.
We had a couple of people mention, when we were covering the Spelling Bee a couple of weeks ago, that they wanted there to be some love for the GeoBee, and I promised that if I saw it go by, I'd give it a shout.
So, just to clarify, I know exactly as much geography as I do obscure spelling, which is to say: almost none! European geography was the subject of the first test I ever failed in school in my entire life! I still remember that I got a 55, which was written in red pen at the top next to the letter "E," because we had that at my school instead of "F." (Logically, "E" comes after "D," you see, and "F" in this context stands for "SHAME.")
I tip my hat to the kids who actually have it together enough to name tributaries.