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Table Tennis: A Brief History of the Sport

Jul 30, 2008
The sport of table tennis has been encouraging new players, creating Olympic champions, and inspiring crowds of eager spectators for many many years, though few know the true history of the how the sport began, developed, and became what it is today. Below, is a brief digestible history of the sport of table tennis, that will hopefully inspire a better appreciation for it.

Though there are many variations on the initial beginnings of table tennis or ping pong, most scholars and sources concur that table tennis began in England in the late 1800s as a fun after-dinner diversion. Some rumors say it was enacted on the dinner tables themselves, while others stick to the more popular assumption that it began as a lawn and garden game, closely tied to badminton. At this time, they didn't yet have ping pong paddles, and so English socialites used vellum bats to play. In the 1890s, Parker Brothers began work on an indoor version of the popular lawn tennis, which included the net, paddles, and ball.

In the very beginnings-though table tennis was very very popular in England-it was still looked at as solely casual, certainly not as a sport. It was not until much later-approximately 1905-1910, when table tennis/ping pong started becoming popular in other countries, such as: Japan, China, and Korea. Meanwhile, England created the first official Table Tennis Association for the purpose of finally recognizing the pastime as a sport, but it was the Asian countries who had adopted table tennis to their own national hobbies, that made it the highly competitive and respected sport it now is. These countries took on the pastime as a full-fledged sport to be mastered, and is still a highly popular sport there. Today, millions of people in these countries play; and consider table tennis a highly competitive sport to be respected and perfected.

After a brief period, England took up the sport again in the 1920s as a popular diversion. This is truly when the standardization of the game, i.e. rules, organizations, and competitions were begun. Since then, table tennis has become a popular worldwide sport, and even an Olympic event; with competitive players outnumbering 30 million worldwide and millions non-competitive. It was during this time that table tennis-through a series of adjustments-truly transformed. In 1926, the International atble tennis Federation was formed. In 1935, the three major table tennis organizations: The American Ping Pong Association, The Amateur Table Tennis Association, and the National Table Tennis Association combined to form the U.S. Table Tennis Association. In 1957, with the overwhelming worldwide popularity the once annual worldwide table tennis championships, becomes biennial. Finally, in 1988, table tennis becomes an Olympic sport at that year's Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.

Today, the game of competitive table tennis has been preserved to almost the same rules, measurements, etc that it began with; it's most avid competitors and the International Table Tennis Federation ensuring that the human skill and capacity for the sport is not changed with the introduction of new technology.
About the Author
Total Table Tennis is your online source for ping pong and table tennis supplies. Choose from indoor and outdoor ping pong table models.
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