Showdown is a sport for the blind and visually impaired which could be described as the blind communities answer to air hockey, or table tennis. It is growing very quickly around the world. It is also played by sighted players, but they are not allowed to participate in the International Blind Sports Federation, IBSA tournaments. Showdown is widely spread in Europe, but it’s also played in: Africa, asia, north America, and south America. After the success of Showdown at the 1996 Atlanta Paralympics, representatives from more than thirty countries contacted the International Blind Sports Federation Showdown Subcommittee. They wanted information about equipment, blueprints, and rules so they could 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.
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, a special ball containing BBs, opaque goggles, and a glove to protect the batting hand. Players track the ball by listening to the rattle of the BBs.
The game is played by 2 players, on an oval, or rectangular table with goal pockets on both short sides. In the middle there’s a net, which is a hard screen, either wooden or transparent. The players have to wear goggles, ensureing that they won’t be able to see the ball. Their job is to use a racket to keep the audible ball out of the goal pocket on their side of the table, while trying to hit it in a way so that it’ll pass under the net, and end up in that of their opponents. A 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, touches the ball with the bat within the goal area, or touches the ball with anything but the bat. The matches are usually played in 3 sets, and the first player to reach 11 points, leading by 2 or more points wins the set. The exceptions are semifinals, and finals where it’s 5 sets instead of 3.
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, the Netherlands . 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 at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta, USA. Showdown is being played in countries throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and North and South America.
In Europe Showdown is played in at least 20 countries: Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden and Turkey.
We know that they are playing showdown in the following countries in Africa: Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Kenya and Morocco. It has however proved to be really hard to get information about How many players there are, and how much they are playing.
Very little is known about the development of the sport in Asia. In The Philippines they started playing quite recently. In Mongolia they are on their way to do it. In Barein, Kuwait they bought a table and started a few years ago. Players from Sweden have also brought the sport to the Iranian part of Kurdistan. In China and Japan they have been playing for a few years. Unfortunately that’s all the information currently available about Asia.
James Mastro is teaching people how to play showdown, or Power-Showdown, as he calls it, in the U.S. He is also building tables for it, and it is currently played in 6 different states.
Most people chose to play for more recreational purposes, making it difficult to start professional tournaments.
Players from the Netherlands has brought the sport to Surinam. In Colombia they built their first showdown table and started playing showdown in December 2009. Matthieu Juglar, a showdown player from France has with enthusiasm helped them to get started.
National Championships and other tournaments are held in the following countries in Europe: Cyprus, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, The Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Sweden. The first official IBSA world championship was held in, Stockholm, Sweden in August 2009, and included participants from: Canada, The Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iran, Italy, Morocco, The Netherlands, Poland, The Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United states. The current World champions are: Sven van de Wege (The Netherlands) and Jana Führer (Slovenia).
© 2021 Christian Juhl Larsen