With a lack of live sports in 2020, people are gravitating toward some unique alternatives. One of them, which I just discovered, is Marble Sports, which includes televised marble races on a YouTube channel that has over 1.2 million subscribers and has collected over 81 million views so far.
I was having a beer at Wizard Works Brewery, one of the newer craft brewery spots in Milwaukee (in the former Broken Bat Brewing space; they relocated to 135 E. Pittsburgh Street just south of the Milwaukee River) and suddenly I saw marbles racing on the TV. Everybody sitting at the bar thought it was weird at first; minutes later, people were picking their favorite marble and cheering it on.
It's a mixture of science and sport, where physics comes into play similar to racing. The marbles are colorful and often have catchy names - my favorite became Marbly McMarbleface in a few races. We started joking about how Joe Buck & Troy Aikman might call these races, or some of the ESPN announcers. ESPN's The Ocho has actually broadcast some of these races on their ESPN2 Channel, by the way.) It's clever and kind of fun, so I had to share.
Here's a sample race from the Sand Marble Rally, which features the 1-inch diameter glass marbles such as Red Number 3, Ghost Plasma, and Dragon's Egg. Marbles are sent down a long, winding track dug in the sand that includes various obstacles, and must finish as quickly as possible to earn the most points. After all eight races in this season's A Division are completed, the marble with the most points gets declared the champion:
The production quality got amped up even more, including more "crowd noise," in 2019 with marble racing on tracks that include obstacles and conveyor belts that bring them back up so they can roll down and race again:
Here in 2020, they're adding even more production, pomp and circumstance with opening ceremonies and more announcing. The show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is now a sponsor:
You can see all of Jelle's Marble Runs on their YouTube channel; they're adding more and more as this catches on. Enjoy it before the marbles start securing agents and holding out because they want free agency and bigger contracts!