SkyKing162's Baseblog

A fan of the Yankees, Red Sox, and large sample sizes.

1.05.2004 OLY - Tabled tennis: Pingpong, romance don't mix

I played ping pong on a club team my first two years of college. We travelled down to Boston a few times a year to compete against BU, Harvard, and Wellesley. The stereotype is that lots of Asians play ping pong, and our matches confirmed that. Surprisingly, our team only had one Asian guy on it, while the others probably had five non-Asians between them all. The only females from any team were on the Wellesley roster, and their best player consistently beat up on all the other number ones. She had a rating in the 2000's in scale that maxed out at 3000 - similar to chess rankings where each match results in players gaining/losing rankings points.

Ping pong's a great sport, extremely quick, and surprisingly draining. Even the best basement player would get wasted by anyone on my club team. When I first joined I was amazed at how much of the game spin is. Even the hardest shot can be returned by stepping back from the table a little bit. With the advent of super-grippy rubber paddles in the seventies, a new shot called the 'loop' became, and has stayed, extremely popular. Instead of hitting the ball, a player barely grazes it and pulls it up and over the net. The shot requires an extremely fast swing, but the ball doesn't travel all that fast. Instead, all the energy from the swing is converted into spin. If the opponent attempts to hit a normal drive return, the intense topspin will cause the ball to shoot straight up in the air. The only ways to return the loop are to either aim straight down, swing with intense underspin, or loop it back (which is next to impossible.) If you ever get the chance to play ping pong with someone that really plays Ping Pong, you'll be amazed.

It was also refreshing to read this in the article:
"Media reports said Ma Lin was Bai's boyfriend but avoided punishment because he is expected to be a key player in Athens. Ma's doubles partner Wang Hao wasn't punished either, despite being identified as involved with Fan Ying.

Li, the association official, acknowledged that higher-ranked players were treated leniently.

'We let the more important person (in the couples) stay because they have the heavier burdens and responsibilities,' Li said."

Can you imagine a college football coach saying, "Well, we caught both Smith and Miller smoking a little pot during the off-season, but since Smith rides the bench and Miller's our star QB, we're only going to cut Smith." Happens all the time, though. Might as well be straight forward about it.

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