The Business of Table Tennis

“It’s all politics.” I’m not sure who was the first person to utter these words. I do recall being amused when I heard them regarding table tennis. I’m less amused these days. Everything is political. Why should table tennis be any different? The struggle for power is interwoven in table tennis. There seems to be a lot of bickering in the upper echelons of the governing bodies of our sport. Most players can ignore the business side of table tennis. The majority of us just want a place to play, and don’t particularly care what the ITTF or USATT are up to. But without these groups, and the equipment companies, our sport would not exist as we know it. It turns out we need these power hungry, cold hearted, politicians and managers.

It’s unlikely anyone goes to work in table tennis expecting to get rich. There are only a few outlets for making a profit in our sport. Some are better than others. It is possible to make money as a player. Winning major tournaments can be extremely profitable. Obviously, this is not a viable plan for most of us. Coaches make money. If you are a good coach, are good with people, and have a good mind for business, it is possible to run a profitable table tennis business. You won’t get rich, but you’ll stay in shape, and be your own boss. Surely, somebody is making a good living in this sport. It appears that the real money, and the real power, is in the hands of the equipment companies. If you can sell a ping pong ball for a dollar, a blade for two hundred dollars, and a sheet of rubber for anywhere from ten, to one hundred dollars, you can probably make some money. I’m not exactly sure what to do with this information. I would expect the direction our sport takes will be steered by equipment companies as much as the ITTF. The business side of table tennis isn’t always pretty. It’s all politics.

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