Championship spelling requires considerable memorization as you'd expect but it has a mathematical aspect as well. One needs to know how to put together words using very specific rules that depend often on the word's origins, which the spellers can ask about.
A major network (ABC) broadcasted the spelling bee for the first time. ABC once televised the Miss America Pageant, which has since moved to a small cable station because of lack of viewer interest. Amazing to see Beauty lose to the Bee.