September 9, 2013

Monday Night TV Conflict: Redskins and RGIII vs Eagles... or Ping-Pong World Championship for Over-80 Division

I haven't watched TV for several months. Now, wouldn't you know it, there are two shows I really want to watch tonight.

Football is the only sport I enjoy watching. I've been a dedicated fan of the Washington Redskins for decades. After years of mediocrity, the Redskins became an exciting team to watch last year with their acquisition of quarterback Robert Griffin, III. He was Rookie of the Year last season but tore two ligaments in his knee in January's playoff game against Seattle and had major surgery a few days later. So his return to the field in tonight's opening game against the Philadelphia Eagles was guaranteed to have me glued to the TV set. 

Over-80 Ping Pong Tournament vs Redskins/Eagles Football
Then I heard about a PBS program that premieres tonight: the British documentary Ping Pong. The show follows contestants from around the world who travel to China's Inner Mongolia for the over-80 division competition in the World Veterans Table Tennis Championships.

I didn't think Ping Pong could compete with my Redskins addiction. Then I watched the trailer:

The press release says the film, "like its subjects, faces old age and death head-on. Ping Pong is engaging, inspiring and surprisingly suspenseful." Here are a few contestants:
  • Terry Donlon is 81, has cancer, and has been given only one month to live.
  • His partner and fellow Brit, Les D'Arcy, 89, a renowned advocate for the elderly, lifts weights and writes poetry. 
  • Australian Dorothy DeLow isn't the best or quickest player. But at 100, she's the oldest and one of the fiercest competitors.
  • Ursula Bihl, 89, won the championship three years ago and believes that ping pong is keeping her alive. She'd rather "die at the . . . table than in a care home."
  • Ursula's good friend and fellow German Inge Hermann, 89, has perhaps the most astounding story. After her husband's death 15 years ago, her physical and mental health declined rapidly and she ended up in the dementia ward of a nursing home. Introduced to table tennis as therapy, she literally paddled her way back to physical and mental well-being. Today, she manages the nursing home and teaches a computer science course.
My PBS station will air Ping Pong at 10pm tonight. The Redskins/Eagles game starts at 7:10pm. Maybe the Redskins will have built such a commanding lead by 10 o'clock that I can switch channels. But I doubt it.

Fortunately, PBS stations often repeat shows like this. Ping Pong will run again at 4pm Tuesday.

If you want to check the listings for the show in your area, click here.

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