As almost every major sporting event is cancelled, Fraser Innes pitches an alternative to watch: Marbles.
As they race down the course, bouncing off walls and each other, there is something quite entrancing about the movement of marbles and their progression on each other and the clock. Jelle Bakker has seen this and seized upon it and now has more than six hundred thousand YouTube subscribers to show for it.
The high production value on his videos, through their professional level of graphics and the superb commentary by Gregg Woods, elevates the racing to a level of fascination that should not be possible through just glass balls and gravity.
His racing initially began with the MarbleLympics (changed recently to Marble League after a run-in with the IOC’s legal team), a series of events vaguely analogous to Olympic sports, but has since expanded to a “Sand Marble Rally” and the currently debuting Marbula 1 (The FIA are a bit more friendly).
The sport has risen out of obscurity somewhat in recent years, having been part of the ESPN8: The Ocho broadcasting two years running (An annual reference to Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, a 2004 film, where they show somewhat obscure sport) and other outlets have reported on the sport in the gap where sports news usually is.
While the relative successes of any marble are random luck, narratives have been weaved through these marbles, be it Oceanic’s ironic inability to compete in the water events, or the so-called “host’s curse” for Marbula 1. My own beloved Limers have an unfortunate habit of clutching defeat from the jaws of victory, missing out on Marble League qualification all together two years running.
These storylines and underdog tales are part of what makes sport so brilliant, and since the human athletes are unable to compete, I would encourage you to allow marble athletes to fill up the gap by tuning into the Greenstone GP this weekend.