Darts Blog


Darts Blog

January 06, 2009
Is Darts Really A Sport?

Here is yet another article on whether or not darts should be considered a sport.  It's up to you to decide.  Read the article and let me know what you think.  I would love to post some of your responses here.  I agree more with Giles than I do with Patrick.  Where do you stand?

Is darts really a sport?
Link to the article

Yes, says Giles Smith

Of course it's a sport. Those of us who settled with our consciences on this matter a long time ago have moved on to a whole different discussion. What we are wondering is whether darts might be an art.

Describing Phil “The Power” Taylor the other night, Sid Waddell, the Voice of Darts, said: “Like Picasso with a piece of tungsten.” Well, possibly. At his best. (Picasso's, I mean.) But that debate goes on.

As for the other business - no problem. And if we have nothing but confidence in calling darts a sport, then it's with reason. Things are sport because enough people choose to call them sport - to think of them that way and discuss them as such. To that extent, calling darts a sport is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In any case, the traditional objections melt away. “But you don't even have to be fit,” people say. Not in the conventional sense, no. And I'll go farther: you can even be fat. But you don't have to be fit to play golf, either, and no one ever says that Lee Westwood isn't svelte enough to be a sportsman.

You will need an eagle eye for darts, though, and a steady arm. It's a kind of fitness, and it comes only with practice. (Thrown many 180s recently?) And you'll do some walking - as much as 25 kilometres during a tournament, according to some rather hurt and defensive research conducted with pedometers. Olympic archers don't even have to retrieve their own arrows.

And if you're worried about the drinking, then may we point out that your resistance to the seriousness of darts is probably founded on a 30-year-old Not The Nine O'Clock News sketch. The irony being that you can't really play darts when drunk. Or at least you can't really play darts well when drunk. This is not to say that darts players don't drink. It just happens that a number of leading darts players - and this would be true for any part of the sport's professional-era history - happen to be just as good at drinking as they are at darts.

In truth, what most professional darts players put away pales into insignificance beside the weekly consumption of the average rugby player or cricketer. The difference is that, in the case of rugby and cricket the person doing the drinking is more likely to be middle class, and the subject of middle-class people drinking always plays better, for some reason, than the subject of working-class people drinking.

What's not sporting? It's gladiatorial, character-led, highly skilled and (sorry again, archery - and also county cricket), it attracts spectators. They're not busy wondering whether it's sport. They're too busy watching the darts and feeling the sweat on their palms.

So, inevitably, we move on to other considerations. At Ally Pally recently, Dave Lanning, another of the great darts commentators, was wondering why we haven't yet seen “Phil Taylor: The Musical”. Now there's a question worth asking.

No, says Patrick Kidd

Why stop at declaring darts an official sport? Put it in the 2012 Olympic Games as part of a pub heptathlon with pool, dominoes, cribbage, karaoke, beermat-flipping and a quiz featuring a picture round on celebrities and their tattoos. No chance of the Chinese snatching gold in that. But we all know that darts is too silly to be a sport. It is a very enjoyable post-Christmas frivolity, but that is all.

No tired stereotypes here about darts being for obese men in bad shirts whose idea of a balanced diet is to have a pint in each hand. I love watching it and hold the top players in high regard. It is not easy to whang an arrow repeatedly into an area 2.5cm by 1cm, especially under lights with baying loons in the background. The top players practise hard and deserve respect for their skill and dedication. So do Morris dancers and champion yodellers and you would not call them sportsmen.

Being able to do one thing very well in the same conditions every time is impressive. Take darts players away from those conditions — play it outside, say, or with a moving board — and how would they fare? For that is what golfers and archers — who some lump in the same category because they do not run — have to face. One leading player, Mervyn King, had a flap once because the air conditioning was blowing his darts awry. Was King a perfectionist or just a moaner?

What makes an activity a sport? It has to have rules, a governing body and be competitive. Under that definition parliamentary debating would be a sport. Some say a sport is something enjoyed by many people and of such physical exertion that it is beneficial to our health. Those were the terms by which darts was accepted by UK Sport in 2005. But if enjoyment and wellbeing are criteria then having sex is also a sport. So, should nookie get lottery funding?

Perhaps more simply, a sport is something you read about in the sports pages of The Times. That would also make solving crosswords a sport. Like darts, it is competitive, governed by rules, good for the health and found in the back of this newspaper.

Cruciverbalism for 2012! That’s another gold for Team GB. And would it really be any sillier than darts?

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Until next time!


On January 21, 2009 Benny said...

Wow, I have never seen a comparison like this before. It's great to look at both sides. I really thing darts is a sport. It may not be as big of a deal in the States as it is in the UK, but it is a sport here none-the-less.

On January 12, 2009 Matt W. said...

Thanks for sharing this. It really does give a good comparision of darts as a sport.

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