Showdown is a fast-moving sport originally designed for people with a visual impirment, but you don´t have to be blind to play! Sometimes it is mistakenly referred to as table tennis for the blind because it is a table game. However, it does not have courts marked on the table, therefore points are scored by hitting the ball into a goal pocket. Sighted people and those with disabling conditions other than blindness find this game challenging.
Joe Lewis, a totally blind Canadian, invented the game in the 1960´s. he wanted to find a sport which could be played recreationally and/or competitively without sighted assistance. Over the years, Patrick York, a Canadian athlete who is also totally blind, collaborated with Lewis on refinements to the rules and equipment.
Showdown was an international success at its debut as a recreational sport during the 1980 Olympiad for the Physically Disabled in Arnhem, Holland. International interest was sparked and Showdown has been played recreationally at the: 1984 Olympics for the Disabled in Long Island, USA; 1988 Paralympic Games in Seoul, Korea; 1990 World Youth Games in St. Etienne, France; 1990 World Championships in Assen, The Netherlands; 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona, Spain; and most recently at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta, USA.
The sport is inexpensive to start up, requires minimal maintenance, and can be played in a room the size of a classroom or meeting room. The only equipment needed is the specially designed table, two paddles, special ball into which metal bee bees have been inserted, and perhaps a glove for the batting hand. Sound produced by the bee bees rolling around inside the ball indicates the location of the ball during the play.
Showdown is easy to learn. The object of the game is to bat the ball off the side wall, along the table, under the centre screen, and into the opponent´s goal. the first player to reach eleven points, leading by two or more points, is the winner. Each player serves five times in a row. Player score two points for a goal and one point when their opponent hits the ball into the screen, hits the ball off the table, or touches the ball with anything but the bat.
Showdown is being played in countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and North and South America. After the success of Showdown at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, representatives from more than thirty countries contacted the International Blind sport Association Showdown Subcommittee. They wanted information about equipment, blueprints, and rules so they can play this game in their country. Currently, the IBSA Showdown Sub-committee is encouraging regional and national Showdown Tournaments in an effort to have international championships which, hopefully, will lead to sanctioning by the Paralympics.