By Kely Lyons
HOLLYWOOD(Hollywood Today)1/6/14/–Adam Bobrow wants you to know that the international game of table tennis has a face.
At least, that’s the way he’d like it to be. And with close to 2 million YouTube hits on his “Excessive Ping Pong Celebration” video and an ever-growing base of fans around the world, Bobrow may get what he wants. Before you read the rest of this article, watch the video. Go ahead; watch it once with music – and once without. You’ll enjoy it either way.
Born in “the 818” – Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley – Bobrow is funny, smart and modest, quick to point out his own weaknesses as a player, even as he is celebrating the strengths of others. He discovered table tennis at age seven, when his father started playing with him and his brother on a table set up in the driveway. Bobrow says he found the game “… fun, addictive and (I) really enjoyed playing with my dad, who seemed to be too good for anyone to ever beat. He could always return the ball!” The thing that really hooked him, though, was when his Dad taught him how to “spin” the ball. Suddenly the game opened up for him, and by age fifteen he was playing competitively. His appreciation for ping pong just kept growing from there.
So where did it come from, this curious game? Although table tennis is immensely popular around the world and became an Olympic sport in 1988, few people know its history, which dates to England in the late 19th Century. At some point in the 1880’s, upper crust Victorians started turning their dining tables into mini versions of the classic “lawn tennis” field, on which they would engage in impromptu - though, one imagines, appropriately genteel – postprandial “table tennis” games. Now governed by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), when played at the highest levels, competitive table tennis uses a refined and complex lexicon to describe grips, strokes, strategies and spins. The most important international competitions are the World Table Tennis Championships, the Table Tennis World Cup, the Olympics and the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, which carries prize money of over a million dollars. In other words, table tennis is actually a very big deal in the world of competitive sports.
In service of his obsession, Bobrow travels the world, appearing at tournaments, exhibitions and celebrations of the sport, and he writes regularly for USA Table Tennis Magazine. From Los Angeles to Viet Nam, from the Philippines to New Zealand, his passion for table tennis knows no bounds, and in it he sees the seeds of cross-border cooperation, teamwork, a better world, and the kind of people-helping-people zeitgeist that would have – genuinely – warmed the cockles of George Bailey’s heart.
And he doesn’t just “go places”; when Bobrow travels, he immerses himself in whatever country table tennis takes him to – the people, the food, the sites, the customs. Through the culture of ping pong he experiences, observes and reports his findings with a sunny, funny and philosophical wit that is as intellectually engaging as it is amusing. Because he is as ingenuous and cheerful as he is physically outrageous, his cohorts on a recent table tennis marathon in Vietnam nicknamed him “the Mr. Bean of Ping Pong”. He is also, as it happens, a babe magnet – women seem irresistibly drawn to him, and he is endlessly being photographed with one attractive female after another. A colleague describes walking into an LA fast food joint with Adam, only to witness the most beautiful woman in the room make a cooing beeline straight to Bobrow, who seems to take everything in stride.
Clearly a man with a mission, he shows no sign of slowing down. Says Bobrow – “I… play table tennis because I find it very creative, fun, exciting and challenging. I really enjoy that I can make the ball curve, dip, dive, jump in any direction… whether I am 15 feet behind the table or right on top of it, I can have control to do things that make me feel like a wizard. The fact that I can entertain people around the world, having fun and playing the sport that I love the most, I am VERY thankful for. ”
If anyone deserves to be the poster child for table tennis, it is Bobrow, if only for his unmitigated passion and advocacy for the sport. The fact that he is actually an excellent player and a comedic whirlwind who brings joy, excitement and laughter to audiences the world over is just the icing on a really great cake. Table tennis is lucky to have Adam Bobrow as its greatest fanboy and advocate.
You enjoyed the video, didn’t you? Told you. Go ahead – play it again. Laughter is good for you.