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United by Ping Pong, These Players Find Community in a New York Park | Short Film Showcase

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A powerful look at how outdoor ping pong tables, set up in the heart of New York City, are welcoming players from all walks of life.
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The Short Film Showcase spotlights exceptional short videos created by filmmakers from around the web and selected by National Geographic editors. We look for work that affirms National Geographic’s belief in the power of science, exploration, and storytelling to change the world. The filmmakers created the content presented, and the opinions expressed are their own, not those of National Geographic Partners.

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In the middle of New York City, tucked away in the corner of Bryant Park, sit two outdoor ping pong tables where anyone is free to play. Young or old, rich or homeless, it doesn’t matter. During the day, the park provides paddles and balls, but after 7pm the regulars show up, armed with their own. Every night they come together to battle each other and the elements, playing in the wind, rain and even snow. And out of this shared love of the game, a bond was formed between an unlikely group of people. Filmmaker Jon Bunning profiles the many lives these tables have touched, including the gangbanger who helped put them there.

Jon Bunning:

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Read more about United by ping pong, these players find community in a New York park here:

United by Ping Pong, These Players Find Community in a New York Park | Short Film Showcase

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48 COMMENTS

  1. This makes me appreciate even more our own ping pong community we created at Molson Park in Montreal. I made many good friends there, a go to place almost every day. I am already planning a visit to NYC to meet those wonderful people.

  2. Every city should provide tables in the open because PP unites people , gives good show for spectators + costs pennies to the city. Vote for PP players @ the next election !

  3. In life when you give and not expect anything in return is absolutely beautiful!!!! Great to see guys just playing and having fun….

  4. This is how I've always imagined New York to be. If I'll ever get the chance to visit NY, this is the first place I'm coming to. Not the statue of liberty or the empire state building. This.

  5. What a powerful story the professional ping pong player has. Traded 6 guns for a ping pong. And recognizes that it was a life changer. Whoever that guy is that paid him $20 to play with you and paid for his ping pong school, you rock!!!!

  6. Watched this with my kids. WOULD HAVE LOVED A WARNING ABOUT THE F-BOMB. Just a little warning at any time at the beginning of the video or in the description would have been fantastic. I mistakenly thought NatGeo would be safe. Now I know. Huh, it was education after all. Taught me not to trust NatGeo. Back to NatGeoKids for this family.

  7. Absolutely godam awesome..to c such a diverse group of people to come together to play ping pong..outstanding and inspirational..thumbs up.from Aotearoa..cheers.

  8. I so glad everyone loves our doc thank you guys really appreciate the love!! Next coming soon my doc about my ping pong diplomacy to North Korea!

  9. What a great short film! People from all walks of life, with different war wounds; redemption and comraderie, true humanity found around… ping pong!! In this ugly digital age, it's heart warming and moving. The ex-thug turned patron (without saying it) should be nominated for a nobel peace prize, he's a benefactor of humanity.

  10. I've been to New York City twice, and when I was there, my favorite place to spend my time was Bryant Park, playing at the open tables! Seeing this more than five years after I last visited and even recognizing some of the people in the video was really nice! Thank you National Geographic for this great mini documentary!

  11. This video reinforces two of my strongest beliefs:

    1) big cities are great. The greater the size and density, the more likely these niche communities will form.

    2) no matter what you like, go find your community. And, if it doesn't exist where you are, build it.

  12. In Berlin there is a Techno Club, every tuseday they setup Tabletennis… with the music and the people there… i just love it!

  13. This video makes me wanna fly to NY Park and meet these wonderful people from an amazing community, can't ask for a better reason to fly to another country.

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