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A Simple Little Ball

While on vacation last summer, my ten year-old son saw real ping-pong being played for the first time. Like many other homes in the U.S., we own a Wii and have been playing virtual ping-pong for some years. As my son watched real ping-pong being played, he became totally fascinated and soon begged to give it a try.

We played for hours.

It was not long before he was able to keep up with me -I had played before. Soon after that, we were in a full-blown sweat in a vigorous game of ping- pong. We played for hours.


It had been years since I played real ping-pong. I had forgotten what the game was really all about. It was nothing like playing on the Wii. We had to move more quickly; we had to judge both speed and spin of the ball, and had to regulate how hard or soft to hit the ball.


We left the table sore and amazed...

Real ping-pong is a workout—intense on many levels—nothing at all like playing ping-pong in front of the television. We left the table sore and amazed by the amount of coordination it takes to play the game. For weeks, even months after that day, my son talked about how incredible ping-pong is. We put an end to that. We bought a table for Christmas instead of updating the Wii.

Are our children missing something here?

Are we adults missing something here? Are our children missing something here? Do children need to bowl (or play tennis, baseball, ping pong, canoe, skate, ride bikes), or is it okay to stand in the middle of the living room manipulating a wrist controller?



Do not get me wrong: I am not old fashioned in any sense of the word. I love computers and all the modern techie stuff that hits the market. I love it all, but ping-pong has really got me thinking.


Maybe we need something simple that causes us to move our bodies...

Maybe we need to reintroduce some low tech back into our lives. Maybe having a green folding table in the closet, a tiny white ball, and two paddles is something we need again. Maybe we need something simple that causes us to move our bodies, use balance and speed and coordination. Something that forces our brain to analyze and quickly adjust the spin of the ball and quickly decide on a solution for return. Maybe we need things like altering trajectory and limiting an opponent's options. Maybe we need to play against our opponents face to face and win or lose gracefully while recognizing them as real people.


...we need to keep ourselves experiencing reality in real time.

Maybe we need to play with a little bouncing ball again. Or maybe we don’t. I do know one thing for sure—we as adults owe it to our children to provide them with the experience of real things in real time. We need to keep our young people rooted in reality, and we need to keep ourselves experiencing reality in real time. Well, it is for you to decide.


GET OUT THERE!


words & pics by t. smugala



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