Scrabble – Will Nigeria Retain Its Position as World Champion?
In case you didn’t know (I didn’t, so nothing to be ashamed of), the reigning World Scrabble Champion is Nigerian, Wellington Jighere. In 2015, he beat 129 competitors in Perth, Western Australia, to win the world English language Scrabble Players’ Association Championship.
Recently, Jighere participated in a national scrabble tournament in Abuja, Nigeria where he finished 14th while the 2016 national champion, Olatunde Oduwole, finished 4th! Quite interesting, I think, as one would think Jighere would finish in first place, seeing as he’s the world champion, while Oduwole would be in second place, seeing as he’s the national champion. But nope! They were beaten by other Nigerians, also avid scrabble players.
So obviously, Nigeria has quite a number of strong scrabble players, many of whom are keen to take on Jighere at the next world championship game. Even Jighere admits that he’ll be the man to beat at the next championship and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s badly beaten by another Nigerian.
In the national championship, Lagos State, Delta State and Akwa Ibom State came first, second and third respectively, with each winner earning cash prizes of N150,000 (as well as a trophy), N100,000 and N50,000 respectively.
Sports has, time and time again, demonstrated its relevance as a ticket to economic freedom both for individuals and for countries. Active participation in sports promotes health and productivity, reduces medical expenses, fosters cohesion and friendship and inculcates discipline. A well developed sports industry, for example the American Sports Industry, also generates sizeable earnings in the form of ticket sales, job creation, infrastructure development and tourism – not even counting the indirect economic activity generated from related industries, such as food and drinks (because we all like a little snack while watching the game).
So is Scrabble now a thing in Nigeria? Given Nigeria’s increasing interest in the game, is it on track to become what football currently is to the country, or is this just a passing fancy? Only time will tell.
The Scrabble World Championship is slated to hold in September in Kenya.