On a random afternoon last semester, I arrived back in my apartment to find my roommates frantically screaming at the TV. From the sound of their shouts, I would’ve assumed it was some sporting event — except it was noon on a Thursday.
You can understand my shock when I approached the TV and realized that the cause of the commotion was a bunch of marbles rolling around on the screen. I was soon informed that it was the 2017 MarbleLympics, and I was immediately invested. We proceeded to pick favorite teams like it was any normal sport and were captivated by every marble roll, collision or jump.
So, I was thrilled when the rest of the world discovered the MarbleLympics a few weeks ago when this whole quarantine thing had just begun and we still had hope it would last only a couple weeks.
Since then, the professional sports world has given us some content to watch, especially from the NBA, which continues to prove it’s the best marketed sport in America. However, some of those events have fallen flat, including the H-O-R-S-E competition which turned out to be more of a competition of who has the best internet.
During these tough times, here are five ‘sports’ to provide your sports fill instead:
Jelle’s Marble Runs
Given its recent popularity, I don’t have to say too much about this one, but you really have to admire the effort that went into it. It’s clearly a labor of love — unlike the 2K tournament, which felt forced and robotic — and that makes all the difference. The marbles have more personality and chemistry than half the players in that tournament.
If you watch the MarbleLympics, which I highly recommend, it’s also more than just races. Depending on whether you’re watching the summer or winter Olympics, they simulate everything from high jumps to curling to archery to hockey. There are even angry fans storming the field, career-ending injuries and beautiful closing ceremonies.
Watch at the same time as your friends, pick a squad and stare at marbles for a blissful two hours straight. If you’re itching to gamble on some sports, or looking to create a fun drinking game, the MarbleLympics are a great place to go.
Ok, picture this: people climbing up stairs. Captivating, right? Now drench the stairs in oil or some other slippery substance, throw some contestants into brightly colored bodysuits, and watch them struggle to get to the top.
Admittedly, it’s probably something better to just watch than to read about. ESPN did a “Slippery Stairs World Championship” on The Ocho a couple of years ago, but I think the idea was stolen — er, ‘borrowed’ — from a Japanese game show, like all great things. Unsurprisingly, Japan did it better anyway:
It’s super entertaining in an infuriating kind of way, and by the end you’re just wondering how the contestants have the will to keep getting back up. It’s inspiring, really. Japanese game shows in general are a great YouTube rabbit hole to go down, but beware: Things get weird.
TikTok quarantine Olympics
I’m sure there are other channels doing this, but I stumbled across Alex Presley’s (@alexpresley_) TikTok profile the other day and discovered his ongoing “Quarantine Olympics,” with new events posted daily.
A Roomba with sharp blades popping balloons at random? Catching cash from a spinning ceiling fan? Smashing eggs against each other to see who survives? I mean, it ain’t much, but it’s honest work — and as far as sports go, it’s as good as we’re gonna get. The production quality has gradually improved since the beginning, and it’s wholesome family competition. I’m personally pulling for Wendy, but it’s anyone’s game at this point.
I mean, if you’re a sports fan who doesn’t know these guys, are you really a sports fan? They only have a mere 50 million subscribers, have been making videos for a decade and are about to release a full-length documentary on May 11.
Recently, they’ve expanded beyond their trademark trick shot compilations to more personality-driven content such as their Overtime “talk show” and a vlog-like Bucket List series. Personally, I do enjoy these types of videos — partly because the guys seem genuine and I’m secretly hoping to be added as a sixth member — but the trick shots will always be their forte. I especially love the “battle” format videos, because you get the added element of competition.
A few weeks ago, they did a series of “Quarantine Classic” livestreams, raising over $350,000 for Feeding America and the Red Cross. Especially if you haven’t watched them in a couple years, there’s a gold mine of videos to waste some time.
Major League Wiffle Ball
Can I emphasize how terrible of a job the MLB has done in the last month? Sure, the sport doesn’t lend itself as easily to #stayathome activities as basketball, but we’ve gotten basically zero baseball content outside of Joey Gallo ripping batting practice in his apartment.
So instead, we turn to Wiffle Ball. Specifically, MLW. It’s basically a bunch of college-aged guys in Michigan playing organized Wiffle Ball games. I realize that doesn’t sound especially promising, but the production quality is ridiculously high and the games are edited down to entertaining 15-minute-or-so highlight reels.
Like with the marble races or the TikTok Olympics, it’s best if you pick a team and throw your entire heart into it. Is watching my hometown Chocolatiers edge out the Savage Speeders in the final seconds of a marble race quite the same as a Yankees World Series win? Maybe not, but’s awfully close.
Thumbnail photo courtesy of @dudeperfect.