There are a handful of Olympic spots on the line for some of the continent’s top table tennis players.
Something else less tangible also is at stake during this weekend’s North American Qualifier: another chance to raise pingpong’s profile and bring the niche sport further out of basements and rec rooms, and into the mainstream.
Claiming one of those spots, of course, is the top priority for these players. But they also want to keep growing interest in a sport that doesn’t necessarily have a must-watch player.
The Academy Award winner and co-owner of a Manhattan table tennis club called SPiN donated $75,000 in February to support table tennis programs in New York City public schools, money the city’s Department of Education says will pay for equipment and coaching. O’Neil also said the actress is looking into making a 1980s-themed pingpong movie. Through a publicist, Sarandon declined an interview request for this story.