Is ping pong an exercise in hand-eye co-ordination that's good for your brain?
Can table tennis delay or even prevent the onset of dementia?
Whichever way you slice it, the name of the game is fun and millions of Canadians know that for a fact.
This Saturday at Duchess Park secondary school, the Prince George Table Tennis Club plans to amp up the competitive factor at its third annual Spring Fever tournament. About 20 players are entered.
The tournament is one of the legacies of the 2015 Canada Winter Games, which gave the city eight competition-calibre Double-Fish tables. Eight of the tables are stored at Kelly Road secondary school, where tournament organizer/club president Wayne Yule teaches English, while four make their home at Duchess Park.
"I created the club so that we would have a place to put those tables," said Yule. "They were definitely going to send the tables to the next place, Red Deer or something like that."
For the first time in the tournament's short history, there will be a high school champion determined in a competition separate from the adult event. All of the students entered Saturday either attend Duchess Park or Kelly Road, and all are male.
"We don't have any females who are interested," said Yule. "We've had a few females come out (to play in club matches) but they don't stick around.
"Almost every country in the world is much more interested in table tennis than North America. The real advantage to table tennis is you can have (adults) like me and have high school students and we can play at the same level, whereas if I was to take on high school student at hockey or basketball, even if I was good at those sports, it wouldn't be much of a competition."
Yule likes the all-ages turnouts and the multicultural mix table tennis events in Prince George do attract. He referenced a Passionate Eye documentary, How to Stay Young - Table Tennis vs. Walking. broadcast on the CBC network a few months ago which followed a group of seniors to determine the benefits of table tennis in improving brain functions.
"It said that for elderly people table tennis was the best thing they could do if they wanted to increase their complex thinking and to increase brain density and reverse the shrinking," said Yule. "The main thing is we want people to have fun."
The club meets for games four days per week from 7-9 p.m. on alternate nights at the two schools in a season that runs from September to May. Coaching is available on club nights.
Warmups start Saturday at 8:15 a.m. and the tournament gets underway at 9:15.