Table Tennis: Is it a Sport?

Omar H.

While people might deny it, table tennis is a sport. The game of table tennis is thought of, by many, as just a game and is simply played recreationally. In his article about table tennis myths, blogger Greg Letts explains “The reason this myth is so popular is that it is easy to have fun at ping-pong straight away. Two absolute beginners with reasonable coordination can start enjoying rallies straight away.”


Kim Young Gun leads entries at Korea Para-Table Tennis Open

According to Merriam-Webster’s definition, “sport” is defined as “a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other.” Clearly, table tennis fits within this definition because it is a game where people do certain physical activities according to the set rules and compete against each other.

Furthermore, table tennis is recognised under the Olympic movement as a sport. On the “Official website of the Olympic Movement,” it is defined as including activities that engage in “Promoting Sport and competitions.” There are 174 table tennis athletes in the Olympics (86 men, 88 women). There were 24 different countries in the Olympics for table tennis: China, Spain, Netherlands, Egypt, Hong Kong, Austria, Republic of Korea, Brazil, Singapore, Poland, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Great Britain, Germany, Australia, Japan, Belarus, United States, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Romania, Denmark, Canada, Sweden and Russia.

To be a sport people think that most of your body should be moving most of the time. Often people do not think of table tennis as a sport until they see a professional playing. In most sports your level of exertion depends on how far you have to reach to make the play. Same thing applies in table tennis where it may not be intense until you make it intense–the case in any sport. Perhaps Betsy Morais, writer in “The New Yorker” in her article “The Forgotten Olympic Sport,” conveys it best in saying:

That a skinny teen-ager can, on a miniature scale, go as far as Venus Williams (they each made it to the third round on their respective courts), is something of an amusement to behold, and to smirk at. But it proves that it doesn’t take big muscles to make a strong showing at the Olympics—only a small sport.

Around 300 million people in the world play table tennis, which means table tennis is not only a sport right now, but it’s a sport of the future.


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