When Ping Pong Summer hits theaters and VOD on June 6, the indie flick—a paean to the 1980s starring Susan Sarandon, Lea Thompson and Amy Sedaris—will represent a cultural apex for a pastime that has spent a good part of its U.S. existence locked in a suburban basement. But table tennis's rise to almost-hip status did not happen quickly. It is the result of a 30-year climb to semivisibility.
First NBA draft lottery raises Ping-Pong balls in the sports consciousness
Ball grows to 40 mm so it shows up better on TV
Debuts as official Olympic sport
Table tennis fifth most watched sport on TV coverage of Athens Olympics
Sweden's Jan-Ove Waldner, world and Olympic champ, is reportedly the first to earn $1 million
Balls of Fury, starring Christopher Walken and George Lopez, released
Forrest Gump, Ping-Pong diplomat
Sarandon and partners open first of four Ping-Pong clubs, called SPiN
ITTF World Tour debuts; scalping not an issue
New York City makes table tennis an official varsity sport
SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE
J.T. Granato, three-star quarterback at Kinkaid (Texas) School and feline enthusiast, committed to Rice after the Owls' offensive coordinator sent a handwritten recruiting letter to his cat.