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Longing for the Summer Olympics? This virtual Marble League might be the next best thing

Jelle’s Marble Runs is a hit on YouTube, and it’s only getting more popular

Welcome to your new obsession: marble racing.
Welcome to your new obsession: marble racing. (Pexels.)

Seeing as the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo have been rescheduled for the summer of 2021, many fans are itching for some sort of sports action, considering most competitions are on hold.

Well, dear reader, we might have a solution for your sports content needs -- and in comes in the shape of a marble.

Meet your newest obsession: Jelle’s Marble Runs.

What started out as “MarbleLympics,” a fun way to have marbles compete in Olympic-like activities, has turned into a YouTube sensation that is quickly becoming the next best thing for sports fans who need a little bit of competitiveness back in their lives.

The idea for the Marble League was simple enough: What if marbles competed in a series of events?

A man in the Netherlands made it happen, and now, his Marble League is getting so much attention that it deservedly got a shoutout from “Last Week Tonight” host John Oliver.

Oliver did a segment on the marble racing league recently, showing his audience how marble racing could itch that competitive sports scratch most Americans have, after events were put on hold in mid-March.

Now, here’s another thing: When we call this a league, we really mean it’s a league. There are tournaments that take place in cities all across the world, teams based on the colors of marbles, and the league even has found a corporate sponsor (it’s “Last Week Tonight” and John Oliver, of course).

In reality, the tournaments that happen in cities all over the globe are filmed in the Netherlands by the team that runs the league, but it’s so fun to pretend that a marble race showdown is really going down in Paris.

The races are uploaded to Jelle’s Marble Runs YouTube channel (which just surpassed 1 million subscribers) and the quality in which the videos are produced is truly incredible.

Just like any competitive sports league, the teams in the league have narratives and backstories that follow them from each tournament. The race tracks are expertly built, and the grandstand full of fans are just marbles, which brings in an element of whimsy and campiness. It’s really the cherry on top of this fantastic YouTube channel.

You can watch the marbles race against each other down tracks, through water obstacles, in relay races and even timed speed events. It’s honestly like watching a riveting night of track and field at the Olympics -- except it’s just marbles.

If you’re scratching your head right now, wondering how marbles could possibly race against each other when they’re just marbles, you’re not alone.

But just watch a few of the races and you’ll soon understand just how a marble in last place can end up in first in a matter of seconds. By hitting different angles on the tracks, marbles can slide past others, or fall back and lose a standing.

The league has grown in popularity since quarantine happened, and qualifying events for this summer’s huge tournament have been going on the past couple of weeks.

But like most of us, Jelle’s Marble Runs has been facing some economic problems since the pandemic started.

Luckily enough, thanks to that new corporate sponsor (seriously, John Oliver is the gift who keeps on giving), this summer’s huge league tournament is set to happen in June.

It’s hard to tell you where to start when it comes to getting into the Marble League, but just take a look at the YouTube channel and pick some random races to watch -- and we’re pretty sure you’ll get the picture. It’s the perfect time to get into this, too, since the 2020 tournament starts in the coming months.

You probably never thought that watching marbles race down a track carved out by sand or snow was how you’d spend your summer, but hey, even if sports were still happening, we think marble racing is here to stay.


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