Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Ping Pong? Seriously?

I will admit that I am an average red-blooded American. My ping-pong exposure is minimal. It has been relegated to an occasional church youth function where one leg of the table is shorter than another and there is a hymnal attempting to level the playing field. I may have watched an entire match between a sibling and our maternal unit. My attention span never lasted as long as the match.

I have never felt compelled to sit and watch an entire ping-pong (or table tennis) match in my life. The fact that I experienced five minutes of said event last night as I watched the Olympics is saying a great deal.

Those are five minutes of my life that I will never get back.

I found myself chuckling – okay, it was an all out guffaw – at the table tennis athletes. These were people who take this sport seriously. I mean SERIOUSLY. They shifted their weight back and forth on the balls of their feet in eager anticipation of their opponent’s next move. They paced back and forth the length of the table. So what if that takes about two steps… those were two EAGER steps, I’m telling you! They were mopping sweat off their brows as if they just finished running a marathon.

They sweat! Playing ping-pong. Seriously.

There was crouching and angled shots and backhands and an entire room FULL of spectators! An entire room of people, under no visible means of duress, watched ping-pong. For more than five minutes. There were cheers and gasps of horror at the appropriate moments.

I think these may have been the same people who crowded in and watched badminton earlier in the games.

Badminton. The sport my grandmother could play. Before her hip surgery. A sport that, no matter how hard you hit the birdie, it is still going to drift lazily over the net. The sport that reminds me of the Bugs Bunny cartoon. You know the one… Baseball Bugs. Bugs takes five minutes to wind up his pitch, throws the ball, and yet it moves in slow motion over the plate. Badminton is a lot like that. Overhead arch swings, lower digs, smack downs just appear to be a waste of energy for an apparatus that will still simply drift over the net.

We are losing softball and baseball in the Olympic games; yet we will see plenty of badminton and ping-pong in 2012. Well, at least I’ll have four years to work up some excitement.

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