Sunday, December 5, 2004

Apple #3: Ping Pong


I played some Ping Pong today. Really, I should say I played table tennis. I lost two games out of three, but even so, it was huge fun.

  • Table tennis is the second most popular sport in the world behind soccer.
  • Since it emphasizes endurance and reflexes above size or strength, it can be played by almost anyone. The equipment is inexpensive and the game is played indoors. It has been called "the sport for the masses."
  • The origin of table tennis is unknown, but the sport is known to have been played as early as the late 1800's by British army officers in India and South Africa. They used cigar boxes as paddles and champagne corks as balls, with a row of books set up across the middle of a table to form a net.
  • In the early 1900's, Parker Brothers trademarked the name Ping Pong(TM) and wanted the sport's professional associations to pay them lots of money for the use of the name. The associations changed the official name of the game to table tennis.
  • A major factor that led to the domination of Asian players in the sport was the introduction of the foam rubber paddle in Japan in 1952. Asian players were also the first to use the "penholder" grip, which allows the player to strike the ball with the same face of the paddle on any stroke.
  • In the 1970's, the Chinese invited American table tennis players to a tournament in China. This began the thawing of tensions between China and America. Soon after, President Nixon visited China for the first of a series of diplomatic negotiations that led to the Open Door Policy.
  • Table tennis became an Olympic sport in 1988.
  • Current (1998) superpowers of table tennis are Sweden, China, Germany, Belgium, and South Korea. Governments in Sweden and China pay their top players just to practice.
  • Some world-class players can put spins on the ball of up to 900 rpm.
  • If a receiver returns a shot successfully 13 times in a row, the receiver is granted the point.



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