Is Ping Pong a Real Sport?

The answer to the question is ping pong a sport? is most definitely a yes. Yes, it’s a recreational game as well but most sports can be played recreationally.  In fact, for China, Ping Pong is a national sport. Chairman Mao called it the national sport of China in 1950s.  And you can see that the country takes the sport very seriously because it has won most of the Olympic awards in the game.

 

This YouTube video proves that table tennis is a real sport

Now let’s first get a visual.  Since we are all visual people, I would like to direct your attention to this youtube video which shows some amazing highlights of this sport in action. These highlights prove that average people can’t do this. The back/forth rally in ping pong reminds one in tennis. And tennis is considered a sport.

Now if you’re not a visual person and would like to see a more thorough argument of why it’s a sport. Let’s consider the training regiment of a professional table tennis player. This article talks about the training regiment of American table tennis players.  Specifically, it discusses 4-5 hours of strength training, 4-5 hours of endurance training and of course four to five hours of actual playing time per day.  Well, that’s full-time training, that sounds exactly like professional basketball players training.

A video of ping-pong athletes training


Quite frankly, these players look to be in better shape than average players of the popular American sport baseball or Indian sport of cricket. So both training regiment, above game-time visual and shape of players suggests that ping pong might be a sport.  Ping pong also has an official representative body called the International Table Tennis Federation (or ITTF).

So table tennis is played in Olympics, it takes training and effort to be good at this sport, it requires equipment and there is an official regulation body (ITTF).  To me, all of this points to that this is a sport.  I guess the cons are that it seems so recreational anyone can start playing it. But that’s true with most sports.  Anyone can attempt to play basketball, baseball, tennis or soccer.  So the argument that it can be played recreationally doesn’t preclude table tennis from being considered a sport.  In fact, I would say that’s supportive of the view that people do want to play this and do play this in their free time.  People say there is no strategy involved in the game.  Just check out the volleys, the spins and back/forth in the game and you will see plenty of strategies involved in this game. The paddles don’t enable the spin of the ball, it’s the ping pong player’s hand motions, which enable the ball to spin a certain way. For a review of best ping pong player: Check out Jan-Ove Waldner.

In summary, it is quite obvious that table tennis or ping pong is a sport.  I think the fact that people question this may be due to western cultural bias and the fact that the sport is dominated by China. All of which is interesting because this sport was actually invented by the British.