Here's Paul Holdengraber's deeply rewarding, enriching interview with Howard Jacobson from the NY Public Library.
Jacobson is suspicious of those who are hell-bent on winning (suspicions confirmed now by Charlie Sheen), although it must be said that Jacobson himself is keen on winning when it comes to ping pong. Perhaps that's okay, though, since ping pong, as Jacobson suggests, is (or was) a game for losers. His remarks on ping pong connect with his really wonderful observations on the nature of comedy and failure, which prompted his statement in the subject header. Here's an article at the Tablet about this great interview.
This is from an article on ping pong by Jacobson:
'From the start, table tennis had attracted deracinated intellectuals, thinkers, depressives, sun-avoiding contemplatives and melancholics. The first official world champion was Dr Roland Jacobi, a Hungarian attorney. Note the doctorate. In photographs I have seen of him, he plays without removing his cardigan. No sweat. His nationality, too, I take to be significant. If you discount the Englishman Fred Perry ... every world champion for the next 25 years came from one dejected outpost of the Austro-Hungarian Empire or another.'