Jimmy Buffett Embraces… Ping Pong?

April 8th, 2009

The Boston Globe has an article on tech companies using ping pong in the workplace and Jimmy gets a mention:

Forget foosball. Game over, Guitar Hero. The leading game of choice at the high-tech companies of Kendall Square is that low-tech icon of basement rec rooms: ping-pong.

At the local research center for search engine Google Inc., the ping-pong table occupies a place of honor, below a colorful mural of Fenway Park and the Boston skyline. The office killer app is “the ladder,” a custom program designed by software engineer Kayi Lee that schedules weekly matches and ranks employee players, including site director Steve Vinter. A onetime junior city champion in Ann Arbor, Mich., Vinter challenges all comers. “People are playing four, five, six times a day,” he said.

The craze is spreading through the tech community, where the clack of balls bouncing from paddle to table provides welcome relief from long days spent sitting at the screen and keyboard. Down the street in Technology Square, Forrester Research chief executive and avid player George Colony put a table in the cafeteria. Data storage provider EMC Corp. has one at its Hopkinton headquarters, three at other Massachusetts sites, and two more at its North Carolina and California outposts.

It was introduced in the United States in the 1890s by the Parker Brothers toy company of Salem. It got a boost in prestige from the ping-pong diplomacy preceding President Nixon’s historic visit to China in 1972. More recently, it’s been embraced by celebrities ranging from singer Jimmy Buffett to retired football player Tiki Barber, and become a new favorite of techies who tired of the foosball craze.

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