Covid-19 concerns causing cancellation of 2020 National Marbles Tournament

The National Marbles Tournament has been on a roll for close to 100 years.  But this year it has been forced to change its plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  This is only the second time in history the tournament has had to make a decision like this one.      

“It’s the most responsible thing to do,” said tournament officials, who noted the only other years the tournament was cancelled were 1944 and 1945, during World War II. “You just can’t bring a large group of people together under these circumstances. Our main concern is everyone’s safety and health.”

The National Marbles Tournament is held each year in Wildwood, N.J. and provides keen competition and thousands of dollars in college scholarships to the National Champions and Sportsmanship Award Winners.  While the tournament wasn’t slated to be held until June, a decision had to be made now to allow time for people to cancel their travel plans. 

While the actual tournament cannot be held this year at Ringer Stadium, there are plans for a virtual event that will allow registered participants to participate in daily activities and interact with one another on various social media platforms.

The tournament organizers feel it is important to provide the children an opportunity to get together (virtually), especially during these trying times.  Many of the same people attend the tournament each year. They enjoy seeing one another again and renewing friendships. “It’s like a family. While the participants do compete against each other, it is friendly competition that often creates friendships and memories that last a lifetime”, noted Beri Fox, Board President. Certain areas of the country have a long history and commitment to the tournament which has been held since 1922.

            Hopefully, the virtual format will even encourage more people to enjoy marbles; the marble community could grow thanks to adversity. Usually participants must be either a winner or a runner up in a local tournament. These are mostly hosted by schools or parks and recreation groups. But the nationwide COVID-19 advisement for people to stay at home and not congregate in groups means hardly any of those qualifying events were able to be held.

            This year’s virtual event will be held June 21-25 and is open to children ages 7 to 14.  If you are former participant, familiar with the game of marbles or if you are a beginner, we encourage you to register for the event. 

            Registration is free and will be done through the website, with the deadline for registering being 5:00 PM on June 10th

Doug Watson, a 4th grade teacher and National Marbles Tournament Board Member, will serve as the Tournament Director.  He is experienced in operating virtual classrooms and events.  In addition, he is a former National Marbles Champion.  “We are working to make this event fun and exciting,” assured Watson of this year’s virtual event.

The current pandemic is certainly creating an obstacle for this year’s marble tournament, but it will not stop the nation’s oldest organized sport for children. The national board is making plans for reuniting in 2021 at Ringer Stadium in Wildwood, NJ and then celebrating its 100th anniversary there in 2022.

”We will miss the Mibsters and the National Marbles Tournament at Ringer Stadium on Wildwood’s beach this year but understand their decision to put safety first.  We look forward to hosting the tournament here again in 2021!”, said Beverly Harland-Bird, Director of Events, GWITDA.    The National Marbles Tournament has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and its Champions have appeared on “Made in America” with John Ratzenberger, Nickelodeon, the Discovery Channel and in HGTV Segments.


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