In 2016 two brothers, Jelle and Dion Bakker, created the first MarbleLympics. Twelve different teams of marbles were formed to compete against each other in Olympic-inspired events. Its quality of presentation and attention to subtle detail – like having an opening ceremony with fake flame and the occasional fan rushing the stage or marble going out to injury – has ensured its place as the most popular marble racing YouTube channel.
Jelle is autistic, and has been building marble tracks for many, many years. His brother Dion studied Social Pedagogical Assistance at the Amsterdam University of Applied Science. Together they run the channel and all its components. Alongside the MarbleLympics, the Bakker brothers run a few other competitions among the marbles. The most popular of which is the famous Sand Marble Rally. Seven hundred and fifty feet long, the Sand Marble Rally now features two leagues, with each competitor (no teams in this one) racing down the twisting and turning track, seeking to avoid elimination and claim the top spot.
All the videos are expertly commentated on by Greg Woods, based in America.
600,000 subscribers were amassed over the years since its inception. Then, in late 2018, something happened and all the videos were suddenly deleted. Though the videos were saved, the brothers Bakker had to start again. The old videos were uploaded to give the channel some depth but it would still take time to grow the following they once had.
As of publication, 480,000 subscribers have joined the channel. Less than nine months old and the channel has already amassed over 75% of its following. This indicated active membership among its fans. It indicated fans who keep coming back, keep checking in.
And if they keep up this trend, they’ll reach their previous 600,000 before the year is up.
So why is it popular?
Well, the full reason probably has a lot to do with humanities ability to anthropomorphise inanimate objects. But it’s more than that. The quality of the videos, the attention to detail, the quality of the commentary, it all adds up to an enjoyable experience. Plus, the use of qualifications, returning fan-favourites, and performance tracking allows those who wish to nerd-out over the statistics to be able to.
All this coupled with the pure physics of the races (nothing is rigged, it’s all about luck and chaos theory) gives them the unpredictable nature necessary of any spectacle. It is genuinely impossible to tell who will win. Pick a marble and follow their progress. That’s how it works.
More than just marble racing
The popularity of the channel has allowed the brothers to sell their own clothes and team decals for the truly avid fan. Nothing says ‘I support the MarbleLympics’ like a t-shirt bearing the names of all the contestants or a sticker on your laptop with the team logo.
Go Green Ducks!