When I misspelled “embarrass” in the district spelling bee in eighth grade, even my mom jokes about the irony. Fortunately for me the county spelling bee invited both champions and alternates from all districts and I won. Losing is okay if you learn from the experience.
If there was a crying couch 40 years ago, I never heard about it.
I went as far as the regionals in the early 80s and there was no comfort couch. When you screwed up, you went back and sat down. I will admit I shed a few hot tears when I missed the word I did, but they were more irritation at myself (it was a word I should have known)