Tag Archives: Sid Waddell

Everyone loves sport; but only those with taste love Darts

After the first post about the whole “is darts a sport?” thing, we thought we’d carry it on a little further. Here, Jamie takes a passionate look at how the argument about whether darts is a sport is perhaps a lot deeper than first imagined – David.

The argument as to whether or not Darts is a sport is irrelevant.

I’ve never understood what point those who argue so passionately that it’s not a sport are trying to make. There are umpteen sports that don’t involve physical exertion; Snooker, Shooting, Angling, Curling, Archery; we could be here all day. You could say that Golf is no more than a long walk (what do you mean someone already did?). This is a futile discussion, either you believe or you don’t.

There are some who still regard Football as no more than twenty-two men kicking a bag of wind around, despite the somewhat overwhelming evidence to the contrary. And as for the question ‘What is Sport?’, well okay while we’re at at it, ‘What is Art?’, ‘What is Truth?’ ‘What is the Meaning of Life?’ ‘Why are we here?’ Leave your answers in the comments.

Are we to understand then that the naysayers theory is that Darts shouldn’t be on TV for this reason? Hmm, only sports are allowed on television…well that’s a view that would earn you a drink from me, but regardless of whether you would include Darts in your schedule, it’s not exactly realistic.

Or is it? It strikes me that sports-only television is already here (and I’m not simply referring to dedicated sports channels). It also strikes me that it’s not the fantasy I envisaged. Today’s TV schedules are crammed with shows that involve real-life activity being turned into a sporting contest. Nobody would sit around watching the raw materials of the most popular shows, be it crap singing (X-Factor), crap dancing (Strictly), or even just crap human existence (Big Brother, I’m a Celeb). The element they all have in common is competition. What is actually going on in all these productions is utterly mundain, but place it in a competitive environment with rules and judging and point scoring and, most importantly, a champion crowned at the end of it all, and suddenly you have crowd-pulling dynamite.

You also have sport, for it is surely in the contest that you find its definitive aspect. Golf fans (Yes, I am picking on Golf, you’ll get used to it) just ask yourself what your beloved game looks like seen outside the environment of the final round of a major, or the Ryder Cup.

That’s right, what the masses are obsessing over is sport. All you sat out there transfixed infront of the TV on a saturday night, you obviously love your sport. Glad to see it, but you could have been doing this all along. After all, the thrills and spills that make your favourite sports so compelling have been served up by Darts for years.

The problem these new sports have is that they are made specifically for television, not to be enjoyed by a live crowd. They will soon be replaced in the schedules (who knows, maybe by old-fashioned creativity; Drama, Comedy, anyone remember those?) and they will thankfully leave no legacy. They will not stand the test of time. The great sports all earned their followings without the power of the media to help them. It is television’s privilege to play host to the greatest reality TV of all – that’s why it costs them so much money to broadcast it, and why what cash is left after the real sport has been purchased goes into producing cheap sports alternatives.

Us genuine sports fans know where to go to get our fix of healthy competition. The sports that have been tried and tested and repeatedly enjoyed, by millions of fans who have spent a lifetime devoted. The sports that are best enjoyed live. If there’s a place in the public domain for competition dancing, competition singing, and competition idiocy, then there’s more than enough room for competition Darts.


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Filed under Darts, Opinion, Sid Waddell, Sport, Television

“The atmosphere is so tense, if Elvis walked in with a portion of chips, you could hear the vinegar sizzle on them”

While trying to play darts during a pub-crawl, a common argument arose; an argument that always occurs when darts brings in the New Year: Is darts a sport?

A vast majority of people believe that darts can’t be a sport because it apparently doesn’t involve physical exertion, and is supposedly comprised mostly of overweight beer drinkers and purveyors of the pork scratching. It seems that it still works hard to rid itself of the Fred Trueman, Indoor League “na’then” connotations, where a jug of Tetley’s is lingering on the table, awaiting consumption by the parched man frowin’ a’raws. (Although I’ll admit, while watching the superb series Bellies and Bullseyes with Sid Waddell, to see Bristow nonchalantly hold his fag in his left hand while he threw with his right makes you understand why the image has, perhaps, stuck).

The definition of ‘sport’ is so ambiguous, confusing and has so many meanings, that the Oxford English Dictionary is reduced to a series of huge paperweights and door-stops, where clarity is the last thing you find.

It is a “pleasant pastime; entertainment or amusement; recreation, diversion”; “a theatrical performance or show; a play” and “a series of athletic contests engaged in or held at one time and forming a spectacle or social event.” Given those examples, perhaps arrows is definitely a sport, after all. It is the most obvious example of all of those examples, including the latter.

Still, I doubt that will quell the doubters.

So where best to look but at the website for that sporting of all sporting organizations: the International Olympic Committee.

As well as the IOC obviously listing the Olympic sports that figure in summer and winter games, it also has a list of ‘recognised sports’ which, if recommended and elected for by IOC members, could become an Olympic sport. These recognised sports, including golf, rugby and most recently cricket, also include bridge, orienteering and air sports (before you strain yourself, air sports encompasses the likes of aerobatics, ballooning, general aviation and gliding).

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but none of the above exert a large amount of physical strain (with the possible exception of orienteering; although from doing it once when I was 7-years-old at school, it mainly involved walking around a wood with a wet map and getting lost).

Most importantly, none of the above experience the atmosphere, the intensity and the physical and mental strain that a top-class darts player has to cope with, where you’re in front of 2,500 raving lunatics; throwing for trebles slightly wider than a postage stamp; (although according to Trueman, that’s nothing compared to a Yorkshire dart-board; computing sums at a rapid speed; and maintaining concentration of two hours plus, stood up, leaning over, continuously throwing and staring at a target.

The argument will continue, but I am unwavering: darts is a sport. Nothing demonstrates that more than this year’s PDC World Championship at Alexandra Palace, which has shown the physical and mental stamina needed in order to win in an intense and ruthless gladiatorial atmosphere devoid of your prawn sandwiches.

Indeed, with Sir. Alex coming out and criticising the Old Trafford crowd after the Birmingham game, you have to wonder whether darts could soon head back to its hay-day of the 80s, which could steal some of the apathetic football fans who are hungry for an atmosphere and, in evidence of this year’s PDC Worlds, close and thrilling action.

I wonder if we’ll ever see bridge in a similar setting? It would probably be reminiscent of this.


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