February 1, 2011

Table Tennis or Ping Pong? (Or is that Ping-Pong?)

We now know with absolute certainty that the term Table Tennis overtook Ping-Pong as the primary name for our sport in 1940. How do we know this with such unflagging absoluteness? Why, from the Google Books Ingram Viewer, of course! Put in your own words, and see what comes up.

And now, a short history lesson time. The sport was originally ping-pong. However, the name was trademarked by Parker Brothers, and so in 1926 the International Table Tennis Federation was born with the new name, followed by U.S. Table Tennis Association in 1933. Almost everyone played with a hardbat. Then came sponge in the '50s, looping and lobbing in the '60s, speed glue in the '70s, powerful backhand loops in the '80s, reverse penhold backhands in the '90s, 11-point games, 40mm ball, and no more hidden serves in the '00s, and, well, here we are. That is all. (I did say a short history lesson. Did I miss anything?)

Celebrities Playing Table Tennis

This morning I updated the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis Page. Why not explore it and find your favorite celebrities playing your favorite sport? There are now 664 celebrities pictured. (Special thanks to all the contributors, especially Steve Grant, who's been tirelessly finding and sending photos nearly every month.) I'd give a short listing of some of the major celebrities who are pictured, but any such list wouldn't do it justice. It's simpler to give a list of celebrities who are not pictured. So here it is:

  • Justin Bieber

Yes, it's true. Justin Bieber is the only celebrity in the world not pictured playing table tennis. Really. Someone get me one. Heck, if we get a video of him playing up on YouTube, it'll start a table tennis revolution in the U.S., and we'd quickly leave China in the dust. Really.

Actually, there are two "holy grails" I've been trying to get for a long time. The first is of Babe Ruth playing table tennis in a "Ripley's Believe It or Not!" cartoon I saw long ago. I contacted the Ripley people, but they couldn't find it. The other is one I saw online of former presidential candidate Howard Dean playing table tennis in 2004 in a rec center in Milwaukee. It was shortly afterward that I started the Celebrities Playing Table Tennis page, and I've been trying to get that picture ever since. I checked the local newspapers for that date, but the picture was gone.

Bad Back

The last few times I've played, my back has been killing me. Most people have problems with their lower back, but with me, it's the upper back. Advil doesn't seem to help.


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