Today in 1901, the first table tennis tournament concluded in London, at the Westminster Royal Aquarium.

It was put on by the Table Tennis Association.

Just a few weeks later, the Ping Pong Association put on its first tournament, also in London.

Yes, people have debated what to call the sport for over a century.


By 1901 table tennis had been around for a couple decades, at least with the modern rules and conditions.

Games like it had circulated for much, much longer.

But in those days table tennis was played with a rubber ball, like the end of a badminton birdie, or a ball made from cork.

Neither one quite worked: the cork ball didn’t bounce enough, and the rubber one bounced too much.

Players eventually moved to a ball made of celluloid, which not only bounced just the right way, it also made a signature noise when hit with a paddle.

The name “ping pong” comes from that noise.

Ping pong is the name name that caught on along with table tennis, but there were plenty of other names out there.

Who knows, in an alternate universe we might be talking about the history of indoor tennis, parlour tennis, tennis de salon, gossima, netto, clip-clap, pom-pom or whiff whaff.


In St. Paul, Minnesota, a theater company is putting on a stage version of “It’s A Wonderful Life” with a twist.

It’s about a guy named Bailey who goes through a personal crisis, except this Bailey is a Klingon warrior from the “Star Trek” universe.

All the actors speak in Klingon, and the theater will provide live English subtitles,

The Rise of Table Tennis and Ping Pong Diplomacy (VICE)

History of Table Tennis (International Table Tennis Federation)

St. Paul theater company to stage ‘Star Trek’/’It’s a Wonderful Life’ mashup, performed in Klingon (Twin Cities Pioneer Press)

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Photo by Gaël Marziou via Flickr/Creative Commons