|ITTF President Adam Sharara|
One question that has been asked above all is this, is it worth it? Is this really the best move to improve the sport? Is this the right step to increase the popularity of the sport? Well I'm not so sure. In order to make the game easier for people to watch you are reducing the very two elements which have made table tennis so popular to play and to watch.
There have also been strong claims that this is a sad attempt to put a dampner on the increasing dominance of the Chinese National Team. This in itself is a huge joke, as if any team is going to quickly adapt to any changes in the sport, it is China, and they will do it 4 times faster than any other nation. There is no doubt in my mind that China will have a firm grasp on the plastic ball by the time it is internationally adopted as the official competition ball.
Having played with some plastic balls from Palio (which I don't think have been ITTF approved) it is clear that the speed and spin will diminish. DHS announced that they were trying to get as close to the celluloid ball as possible, but it is clear that this is not ITTF's motive.
|The new ball will be marginally bigger than 40mm|
While there are complaints all around, I think we will adjust to the new ball and life will go on, but in reality I don't believe this is going to be the big answer to improving viewership. Remember the game was slowed down once already and while popularity on the web has gone from strength to strength (partially a result of a high amount of online promotion), the number of people attending live events has continued to diminish from the times of the 38mm ball.
The only real way to judge the scale of the new balls success or failure will be to wait until it is finally transitioned into the sport and see the true impact. For now I think this is a huge slap in the face to the players and won't achieve all that much for the sport.