Originating in Britain, of all places, in the 1800s, ping-pong (a/k/a table tennis) may be the most popular racket sport—or, as some suggest, the most popular sport of any kind—in the world. There are more than 300 million members enrolled in ping-pong clubs and associations worldwide, and New York City has a fair share of the game’s enthusiasts. If you’re around Midtown, Bryant Park is the perfect venue for a couple of fast games: Whether you want to just practice basic skills or improve your top spin, there are two state-of-the-art tables in the park near the corner of 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue. You can reserve a time slot with a park attendant, and they’ll even provide the balls and paddles at no charge. Our favorite ping-pong trivia: Olympic champion Max Woosnam once defeated ping-pong devotee Charlie Chaplin while playing with a butter knife instead of a paddle. The Park hosts clinics and tournaments all season; contact them for more information on upcoming special events.
June 20-Oct. 17, 11 a.m., 2010