Table tennis evolved first in China and eventually moved to Europe and then the United States. Some say that “Ping-Pang” was the first name of the game because it sounded like the words spoken in the Chinese language in the 7th century, which later evolved into “Ping Pong”. In the 8th century, the game began to spread to India, Persia, and finally the West. These early games were played by hitting a dried Chinese fruit called a lichee.
Others say that the sound heard when playing ping pong on European rackets (made of pieces of paper stretched out on a frame) resulted in the nickname “Whiff-Whaff” and later “Ping-Pong.” In Europe, many people believe that ping pong was invented by army officers who used rounded wine corks as balls and old cigar boxes as paddles. Ping pong remained popular as a party game for the wealthy in England until it officially became a competitive sport in 1927.
Over time, the popularity of ping pong in Europe led game manufacturers to commercially sell ping pong equipment, initially under the name “Gossima”. But the name “Ping-Pong” was in use long before the English manufacturer J. Jaques & Son Ltd. formalized it in 1901. Jaques & Son eventually sold the rights to the name “Ping-Pong” to the American company Parker Brothers.
James Gibb, an English game enthusiast, discovered the novel celluloid balls on a trip to the US and found them to be the ideal balls for the game. In the 1950s, plastic balls were mass produced and table tennis became very popular around the world, especially in Asia, where countries such as China and South Korea have produced most of the best players in the world. . According to the National Sporting Goods Association, most people in the United States played ping pong at home, in attics, or in basement recreation rooms. Table tennis attracts a larger following in China, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, and Germany. Compared to sports like golf or baseball, it is inexpensive.
As the popularity of ping pong has grown, changes have been made to the tournament rules to make the quick game of ping pong more accessible to spectators. This round trip sport has a ball that travels up to 100 miles per hour. In 2000, the International Table Tennis Federation changed the official size of ping pong balls from 38mm to 40mm to slow down the action, and the games were reduced from 21 points to 11 points to make them more exciting. Players are also not allowed to hide the ball in the palm of their hand during the serve.
Ping pong played an important role in the development of arcade games and the personal computer. Atari’s Pong, a ping pong game released in 1972, was the first video game to achieve significant commercial success. Home and recreational versions of Pong helped make electronic ping pong the gaming phenomenon of the 1970s, which was a good decade for ping pong. In April 1971, nine American ping pong players spent a week in China playing exhibition matches against the best Chinese ping pong players. This “ping pong diplomacy” paved the way for President Richard Nixon’s historic visit ten months later.
Since then, ping pong has become the most popular sport in the world, according to the International Olympic Committee, which made ping pong an official Olympic game in 1988 in Seoul. Today, more than 40 million people play ping pong competitively around the world.