50 years ago, a ping pong tournament connected China to the world. Today, the table top tennis game is doing the same for families and neighbors.
Social distancing may have put a halt to team sports, but games like ping pong, badminton, corn hole toss and tennis are allowing Americans to connect with others while still social distancing.
It didn’t take long after the country was quarantined back in March for people to rediscover the games they’d relegated to backyard parties and family picnics. Within just a few weeks of the national shutdown online sales of ping pong equipment sales soared 89%.
Buying a complete set, including a table, will set you back a few hundred to several hundred dollars. As an alternative, some communities have added permanent, outdoor ping pong tables to their parks and playgrounds. Goric’s outdoor table tennis installations perform much like their indoor counterparts. The polymer concrete produces a smooth, non-glare surface that gives the ball that familiar bounce you get from wood.
For a different take on the traditional rectangular ping pong table, there are rounded tables. Goric’s Rondo table is circular, allowing the top to be divided into quarters for up to four individual players.
Another competitive game that is surging in popularity is badminton. When the good weather arrived in May, Amazon searches of “badminton sets for backyards” spiked an astonishing 7,060%.
A close cousin to tennis, most of us think of badminton as purely a recreational game to play at picnics. Yet it’s the second most popular participatory sport in the world and a highly competitive Olympic sport.
It’s also an inexpensive and safe way to get together with others. As in tennis, you play on either side of a net. But unlike tennis, any open space will do. All it takes are a couple of paddles, a shuttlecock and an inexpensive net.
But be warned! Badminton can be addicting. Badminton clubs have sprung up across the country offering classes for adults and kids, with trainers grooming promising players for the Olympics and the pro circuit. In Asian communities, where badminton is especially popular, 24-hour badminton facilities are not uncommon.
Yet another game that’s come out of the garage is cornhole toss. The game is played with two boards set 27 feet apart – if you play by the official rules – and small bags of beans or corn kernels tossed toward an opening on the board. Three points for getting your bag through the hole; one point for landing on the board.
Stroll through any suburban community these days and you can be sure to find families and neighbors playing cornhole in driveways and on front lawns. It’s another of those games that can be played with others while keeping a safe distance, yet connecting socially.
Even before COVID-19, cornhole had become so popular three competing organizations sprang up to encourage play by formalizing rules and sanctioning tournaments. One upcoming tourney is offering $23,000 in prize money.
Seeing its fast growth, some communities have incorporated cornhole game boards into their parks. Goric offers a heavy duty version of the game in a variety of colors, that also coordinate with the outdoor table tennis line. Made of polymer concrete, Goric’s cornhole boards are sturdy and smooth, an important consideration since game bags must be able to slide freely.
Adding to the set is another social-distancing appropriate game, Goric’s outdoor foosball table. Once a staple of indoor rec rooms and high tech worksites, Goric’s use of special, weather resistant materials allows these tables to take on any kind of climate while still playing much like the indoor version. They are available in colors to match the table tennis and cornhole games.
Badminton photo by Jackie Hutchinson