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Thursday, August 7, 2008

Summer Olympics Trivia

Table tennis (a/k/a 'ping pong' for those of us who played in basement rec rooms) has been an Olympic sport since 1988. When top players are in the game, a table tennis ball can travel 80 miles per hour and make 100 rotations per second. (NYT Sports Magazine, August 2008).

According to the official Olympic web site, table tennis started in England in the 1890s by upper-class Brits looking for an alternative to playing lawn tennis after dinner. Early equipment included cigar-box lids as paddles and carved champagne corks for a ball. Based upon this information alone, the game as originally put together sounds more my speed than its contemporary version. Nonetheless, time marches on, marketing happens, and today players use wood and carbon-fiber rackets and celluloid balls developed by NASA (okay, I made up the part about NASA).

Table tennis is the national sport of China, and the U.S. team members are all from China. If you want to watch the Olympics on your computer, check out this article from Silicon Alley Insider.

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