A Conversation for Table Tennis

Olympics, Schmolympics

Post 1

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Ballroom dancing is an Olympic event as well, but that doesn't make it a sport. I don't see any differences here between table tennis and ping-pong other than name, and it has always been my belief that if it is something you can play with your friends while getting drunk, it is not a sport. Thus darts, pool, table tennis, and ballroom dancing (if you have that sort of friends smiley - winkeye) are not sports.


Olympics, Schmolympics

Post 2

Lost in Scotland

Ballroom dancing is an Olympic event? I didn't know that.
But then again, so is Ice dancing and Synchronised Swimming.


Olympics, Schmolympics

Post 3

Dancing Ermine

Ballroom Dancing is not an oplympic event yet, it is a recognised olympic sport an is more properly referred to as dancesport. They are working on getting it in to the olympics within the next eight years I think.

Not only is it a creative medium, but it is also physically demanding when competing at the highest levels (or even moderate levels). Each dance can take between one and four minutes to complete and you come off the floor exhausted, particularly the quicker dances such as Viennese Waltzes or Jives. And for insurance purposes it's classed as a contact sport.

They also compete in the same dance several times a day. You rarely get athletes running two or three heats in a day let alone the ten or twelve dancers are expected to do if they get anywhere in the competitions. You also rarely expect athletes to competee over 14 hours, which is what we regularly do on the university circuit, 11am-1am (And that's before taking into account the getting up at 5am for the coach journey and only getting in at 1am when you finish).


Olympics, Schmolympics

Post 4

Dancing Ermine

That should read "getting in at 4am when you finish"


Olympics, Schmolympics

Post 5

Lost in Scotland

Personally, I don't contest the fact that Ballroom dancing can be very exhausting. Not that I've tried it myself, but I can imagine.
Anyways, what I wanted to say is that I think it's a bit funny to have sports like ballroom dancing, syncronized swimming, ice dancing, diving, where judges gives you points based on their personal judgement/whims.
I may be mistaken, but I find it strange to put yourself in a position where someone's personal opinion can reflect on the outcome instead of one's own skill.
My personal view about these sports (and I do still call them sports) is that I'd rather watch something with set rules and a set point scoring system, like tennis, Ice hockey, football (both american/aussie/soccer versions).

But then again. That's only my opinion.

Lost


Olympics, Schmolympics

Post 6

Dancing Ermine

The judges are supposed to give awards on technical competance more than anything else, there is a ranking system in each round rather than straight scoring so couples do not compete directly across heats but rather face each other competing directly with the other five to fifteen couples on the floor at the same time.

It tends to be a knockout competition so if you mess up badly once you're out of that dance completely. This I think is unusual for many sports and applies more to athletics and the cup stages of more traditional team sports.

The ranking may be slightly more arbitrary than, say, gymnastics, but it represents competence, appearance and interpretation together. Part of the whole thing is to impress the judges, and with them the audience.

I can see why you prefer the set rules and set scoring point systems mentioned (I'm fond of them myself), but though training plays a huge part there can be almost as arbitrary results from pure chance throughout the game (think of all the claims of unrepresentative results). You get forgiven your mistakes and can often make up for them immediately. If a mistake is spotted in dancing that can be it, competition over. Or even if they withold judgement that time, you only have another couple of minutes to impress them, most of which they'll be looking at other people. It does require a high standard of consistency to progress.

The most compelling reason for preferring the scoring point system is so that the majority of people can understand the result. It is relatively easy to see why one person is better than another if they can run faster, throw further or score more than someone else. Understanding why one dance couple is better than another is a little more difficult, but generally if you like the look of what they're doing, it's going to do well.

I really should do a guide entry on this though smiley - smiley.


Olympics, Schmolympics

Post 7

IanG

Of course a lot of people think that ballroom dancing isn't taxing because if you're doing it right, it should look effortless.

When I was at college, one of the guys in the university ballroom dancing team also rowed competively. He said the rowing was easier because you were allowed to grimace.


Olympics, Schmolympics

Post 8

Dancing Ermine

Certainly it takes far less training to reach a reasonable level for competition in some other sports. I have managed to do reasonably well when playing hockey (field Hockey that is) with an hour a week trainging/practice (that's three divisions below national league standard). To do the same dancing would be extremely unlikely. Competing on the university circuit at beginner level I needed at least two-three hours a week practice to get beyond the first round. Most weeks I do between 9 and 12 hours, and I'm lucky to get a couple of recalls.


Defending table tennis

Post 9

tokoeka

Well, I'm sure you could play justabout any game with your friends while getting drunk, if you had the inclination and the opportunity. Problem is, the average bar doesn't carry a soccer field or a tennis court. It's just unfortunate for table tennis that the playing surface takes up such a small area that it can fit in a bar. But this doesn't say squat about the sport itself, which when played at high levels does in fact take a lot more space than you'd have in a bar, and a whole lot more co-ordination than you'd possess after spending much time in a bar.

I'm no ballroom dancer, but my sister is, and I have to disagree with you about that too. There's not much comparison between what passes for "dancing" amongst drunk people (I should know, I was doing it last night) and what goes on amongst serious dancers...

But as for darts and pool... yep, I think I'm with you on those. If you have to draw the line somewhere, I'd draw it before you reach darts and pool. Not sports at all. Darts, for example, is the only "sport" I can think of where it seems that 90% of the high-level players are obese!


Olympics, Schmolympics

Post 10

IanG

I never got beyond inter-college competitions at university. I had a tendency to get one round short of the finals every time. smiley - sadface

Still, I was only doing 4-5 hours a week. (Given that I was singing 10 hours a week too I didn't really have any more time to spend. And besides I wasn't particularly good - I just did it for fun!)


Defending table tennis

Post 11

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Golfers are pretty hefty, too, and the only reason they're not worse is because the PGA insists that the pros have to do without a cart, so they manage to pick up some measure of exercise over a 3-day tournament.

Ballroom dancing: It's athletic, there can be no doubt. But it's not a sport. Just because something requires a bit of sweating doesn't mean it's a sport. Otherwise, we're likely to see competitions on Stairmasters and Thigh Masters. A sport is something that puts you in direct, intense physical competition with other people. Ballroom dancing is indirect competition... you do your dance, you get a score, and hope the judges liked you better on that particular day. The scoring is based entirely on opinion, not on whether you spun faster or leaped higher, as in gymnastics, which is the only form of dancing that I could see qualifying as a real sport. That's because in gymnastics, they start you with a ten, and mark off points for things lacking in techical proficiency, all in accordance with strict rules, and artistic merit isn't scored (although a particularly artistic floor display might help sway the final score a decimal or two).

One last thing: yeah, you could play soccer while getting drunk. You'd also get your butt kicked. I know from experience that when I play pool, darts, or even bowling, a few beers helps me relax, steadies my hand, and improves my game. My friends can attest to what I call my "three drink minimum" at pool... before that third drink, I'm an average player at best, but when that third beer starts to go down, something happens, and I get into a zone. So let me make another qualification... if you can do it better buzzed than sober, it's not a sport. smiley - winkeye


Defining Sports

Post 12

Gavroche

According to Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary:

1 a: A source of diversion: RECREATION b: sexual play c (1): physical activity engaged in for pleasure (2): a particular activity (as an athletic game) so engaged in.

Considering this definition (and focusing on parts a and c)...table tennis, ballroom dancing, pool, synchronised swimming, darts, chess, and twister are all sports.

I do believe I agree with the statement earlier that the judging of ballroom dancing, figure skating, diving, etc is very subjective. It's not difficult telling the difference between experienced and amateur, but when it comes down to two experienced individuals competing against each other the judge has to decide which they **feel** did the better job. There may be certain things they are looking for, but that doesn't change the subjective nature.

For comparison: I often participate in open mic poetry slams. The judges are always told to score on the basis of the quality of the poem, and of the performance. Regardless however, there are always differences of opinion, and often I will go home, certain I deserved a better score.

When people go home from a game of baseball, soccer, or the javelin toss, they may go home feeling they did not do their best, but they are unable to blame the judges. The other team/individual scored more runs, goals, or threw the javelin further.

Of course, sometimes, the umpires/referees/judges in a sporting event such as baseball, soccer, etc, are such dunderheads they make a boneheaded call that effects the game. But this isn't inherent to the sport.

That said, I enjoy watching ballroom dancing, figure skating, and gymnastics. I appreciate the hard work, dedication, and perspiration it takes to compete. I have no problem with them being in the olympics. It would be fun to see Poetry Slamming added as an Olympic event. (Or some other sport focusing more on the mind than the body). But it can be very frustrating watching these competitions, because often there will be a "Russian judge." (A reference to the belief that Russian judges intentionally gave some US participants lower scores than they deserved during the Cold War)


Defending table tennis

Post 13

tokoeka

Golfers? Hadn't noticed that a lot of them are overweight. There's that one guy, Daly, who seems to be doing everything possible to kill himself before he reaches 40, but the others all look OK to me.

I'm not sure about the ballroom dancing... I suspect that actually it is a lot like gymnastics, in that the dances are supposed to have certain moves, in a certain order etc, and you get scored on how well you do those moves. Of course there's going to be artistic flair in there too, which I agree is a subjective call to some extent -- but what about high diving? Isn't that a sport? Plenty of subjectivity there.

I don't want to get into an argument over where exactly to draw the line over whether something is a sport or not, but I really don't see that a sport has to be something where you're in "direct" competition with someone else. Plus, I can think of at least one sport where you ARE in "direct" competition but it can still be very subjective who wins -- boxing.

But to return to table tennis... I think you made my point for me. Try playing table tennis some day when you're drunk. I admit that I haven't, but I know for sure that it wouldn't help. Table tennis is all about rapid reactions and anticipation, and that goes to hell when you've had a few. Games like pool & darts, it's not your speed that matters, it's your accuracy, and I guess you could be right that being relaxed might help with that.


Defining Sports

Post 14

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Dictionaries are annually revising their definitions, to make them fit current usages. And under current usage of the word, sport is any game that requires a bit of locomotion. And it's sad, because it is ruining the Olympics. I'm sure poetry slams will make it as an event sooner or later... after all, this year, I believe they're trying bridge. That's right, the card game of choice by blue-hairs all around the world is going to debut as an exhibition Olympic "sport."

By the way, I'm not trying to belittle anything here. I enjoy ping-pong (and yes, I've done it drunk), and I respect people who do ballroom dancing for competition. That's not what this is about. This is about how rediculous the Olympics are becoming by allowing such things into the games. After all, it's hard to get coverage of the events that matter when you have to cut away for freestyle gymnastics. What's next... international freeze-tag? Belly flop competitions? Bowling?


Defining Sports

Post 15

Wild Stallion

Bowling... now there is a 'sport' that is direct competition and has a clearly defined scoring system. Hence I suggest it would be an excellent choice for an olympic sport. Talk about a need for skill and consistency. I knew a fellow who played a minimum of 10 games a day just to be good enough for the local competitions. And if you don't think it is athletic try throughing one of those 14-18(?) pound balls down a aisle a few hundred times a day. If you don't think it is direct competition you try not feeling the pressure from the guy who is one strike or miss away from taking the title from you.

Party on.


Defining Sports

Post 16

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Yeah, that's just what we need... I can hear the broadcast already...

Bob Costas: Wow, that last shot really puts the pressure on... what sort of strategy do you think he can employ to get back in this thing?

Greg Gumbel: Well, I think he'll try to knock down as many as he can.

Meanwhile the only time an interesting sport like baseball gets any international coverage is for the Goodwill Games or Little League World Series.

One more thing... I've bowled drunk. 'Nuff said.


Defining Sports

Post 17

Gavroche

Yes, you bowled drunk...ok...what was your score? I doubt you bowled over 150.

I can play baseball drunk. Sure, I'll strike out, and sure, I'll probably not catch the ball....but I can't do either sober. What's your point?

I can box drunk as well. I'll probably die, but I can do it.

There's not a single sport you can name that I can't do drunk.


Defining Sports

Post 18

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

You drink playing baseball, you take a ball to the melon. You box drunk, you get a brain hemorrhage. You bowl drunk... you miss the head pin a few times. It doesn't require much in the way of locomotion, you don't work up a sweat, and if you're incapacitated, the worst thing you could do is step out too far and slip in the lane oil... and I've seen that happen often enough to sober people.

Nope, it wasn't over 150. But then, I've only once bowled over 150 in my entire life. I'm not what you could call an expert, nor do I have the inclination to become one. But my score was not significantly different... in fact, I would say it was unaffected.


Defining Sports

Post 19

Gavroche

Ok. Your definition of a sport is something that can get you physically hurt if you play it drunk. So I guess golf isn't a sport.


Defining Sports

Post 20

Blatherskite the Mugwump - Bandwidth Bandit

Golf: You said it, brother. Incidentally, I've never golfed, but at my last job it was quite popular among my co-workers. They drank beer all game long.

Ever wonder why the most popular international sport in the world (soccer) isn't an Olympic game, but table tennis is? Not that I'm a fan of the sprt, but at least it IS a sport, and something that obviously stirs national pride, as the World Cup shows. World Cup is only every four years, so why not make the Olympics a showcase for that talent, as well? It would be the only team sport in the Olympic Games that is bigger than ice hockey (basketball WAS huge, until the pros were allowed to play, and it became an annual massacre, but the pro players made the international competition more exciting in ice hockey, not less).


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