Refreshingly old school, and I thought a good fit with some of the other pursuits of dailyspec readers:

"Even in the Digital Age, These Young Champs Still Care About Marbles" :

PITTSBURGH—Bobby "Bobbo" Narr, a sunny fifth-grader with flaming red hair, can wallop a baseball but prefers shooting marbles.

His sister and cousin are former national champs, and this month he has been spending two hours every night with his coach doing marble drills at his neighborhood court, a 10-foot cement ring under a steel bridge.

"Gotta practice to get better," says Bobbo, who warms up his thumb with 50 short-range "tap shots." Every year, his goals are the same: Qualify at the county championships, then win a national title. The 91-year-old National Marbles Tournament, which runs Monday through Thursday in Wildwood, N.J., claims to be the longest-running youth sports event in the country. Last year, Bobbo finished eighth in the nationals.

Playing marbles has mostly died out but thrives in pockets across America including Pittsburgh. The city has thousands of mibsters, as players are called, and about 40 former national champions, including many from the same families. In some neighborhoods, the passion that normally follows Little League baseball and Pop Warner football surrounds little spheres colliding inside 10-foot cement rings.

Marbles, as old as Ancient Rome, and the root of billiards, bowling and golf, was popular in early America. Abraham Lincoln played to relieve stress during the Civil War. In Pittsburgh, a marble-playing tradition was fueled by the booming glass industry, which preceded the making of steel in Western Pennsylvania.


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