USA Table Tennis or lack thereof

Table Tennis Discussion

Last updated 3 years ago

Jim PingPalHal

Jim PingPalHal Asked 3 years ago

I know Americans are mostly caught up in the big 3? main sports being NFL, NBA, MLB, with NHL probably coming in 4th.

What I don't understand about popularity here is that TONS of people have tables in their homes/garages/work etc. Why is there such a disconnect between people playing it almost like a social gathering party game, and between people taking the next step and learning the sport. If you already have a table, you don't need to invest much more time. We have the internet for researching basic starting technique. You can play it during the winter months, and you don't have to worry about rain or traveling to a court somewhere.

Is it because there is no money in attempting to get really good at it here? Are there too many other diversion sports? 

I was hoping the topic would be discussed a little more in depth with the Topspin documentary but i feel like they only brushed the surface. Ping pong puns.

Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario Answered 3 years ago

Hi Jim,

This is an interesting and big question and not one limited to the America.

I think money is definitely one factor.  Young people are seeing the big sports regularly and have the players from those sports to look up to.  They don't know or hear much about the top Table Tennis players so don't aspire to be like them.

I think the organised sport is also not very attractive to the modern person time wise.  Weekly competitions are played late at night with a slow format that requires you to be at a hall, usually cold, for 3 or more hours to play 3 or 4 games.  Most other popular sports are done in under 2 hours.

Tournaments are waaaaay too long and have a format that only the die hards would put up with.  Often you need to be in the hall for 6, 7 even 12 hours to play.  You play whenever you are called which means you can sit around for hours on end without playing a game.  Which young person of today will put up with that.  They are the highlights generation, definitely no highlights in sitting around for 2 hours.

It is a great sport that has so much potential.  With some changes the sport can be great.  It is the first sport to have every country in the world affiliated.  It is truly the global sport.

Intersting to hear other readers' thoughts.

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Jim PingPalHal

Jim PingPalHal Posted 3 years ago

I hadn't thought about the scheduling of the tournaments/play in the clubs as a detriment but you're exactly right. The only club I have within 60 miles only has club nights in the fall and from 7pm-10pm Thursdays and Saturdays and I have no idea how I would even go about attempting to join in. I don't imagine my parents would be all that happy about dedicating their evenings to lugging me around to something like that when I was 10. 


I do find it just as a statistical oddity that there hasn't been anybody from USA that has broken the mold and been a high level player considering the fact that sooo many people have tables in their houses/garages. Where's our Forrest Gump?


Alois Rosario

Alois Rosario from PingSkills Posted 3 years ago

Haha... looking for Forrest... The thing is that there are as many players in so many other countries doing the same.  It is such a big sport worldwide with so many players playing that to reach the top level you do have to dedicate yourself from an early age.

Mike Deubig

Mike Deubig Posted 3 years ago

Hi Jim,

Table Tennis is more popular now than it ever has been! There are a lot more competitive players who are playing in tournaments. But the disconnect compared to other major sports has to do with money and marketing the sport. It takes funds to run a club, buy a building, or rent a place to play. Prize money in tournaments has barely changed in 20 years or more! If you want table tennis to grow at a world class level in the US, you have to have good marketing so you can recruit businesses to sponsor the sport, in turn, helps support clubs, raises the prize money which in turn will draw more interest. More people will want to play for that prize money, and if you can beef it up enough, that will attract well known international players, which overall will draw more interest. 


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