Objet Dart

The glory, and pain, of darts, the major sport yet to cross the pond.
TAGS: Darts, History
Share |

And God saw the flight, and it was good: and God divided the flight from the dartless...

We are currently in the middle of darts' world championship season. The PDC (Professional Darts Corporation) World Darts Championship concluded on January 2, with defending champion Adrian Lewis defeating fellow Englishman Andy Hamilton in the final. And on Saturday, the Lakeside World Professional Darts Championship, organised by the British Darts Organisation, began, with England captain Martin Adams hoping to win his third straight World final this Sunday.

Two world championships? Do shove ha'penny and table skittles have three each? Is foosball selling out Wembley Stadium? Is darts really so awesome as to require two global showcases to contain the overspill? Perhaps, although those observing the quality of play at the Lakeside this week may wonder: why is a pub game such a big deal that its greatest practitioner could be voted Britain's second greatest sportsperson of 2010?

First, a brief history lesson. The modern era of professional darts effectively began in 1973 with the foundation of the British Darts Organisation in London. (Though it is an international sport, it was and remains centred on Britain.) They organised the first World Championship in 1978, and darts became a surprise hit on British television. The best players—such as John Lowe and Larry Bird's cocky Cockney cousin Eric Bristow—became household names; Dexy's Midnight Runners could embellish their Top of the Pops performance of "Jackie Wilson Said" with a picture of Kirckaldy's finest, Jocky Wilson, and know that everyone would get the joke.

But the bubble could only remain inflated as long as the game's image as a pursuit for those whose constitution was half-lard, half-alcohol was not seen as detrimental. Players were barred from drinking and smoking during games in 1989, but darts came to be perceived by sponsors and television executives as too rough around the edges and too doughy in the middle. By the early '90s, darts' TV presence had almost winked out of existence. The leading professionals, frustrated at the BDO's intransigent attitude to progress, left to form the World Darts Council (now the PDC). The BDO carried on in their own amateur way, while the PDC created their own circuit, including their own world championship. With the backing of Sky Sports, and later the snooker and boxing impresario Barry Hearn, the PDC attracted more and more sponsorship money and more and more of the BDO's top professionals. The standard of play has reached new heights in the PDC, and it is easily superior to the BDO.

This superiority has been accompanied—and to some extent occasioned—by noise, of the literal and figurative kinds. Hearn and the PDC have consciously turned darts tournaments into shows: big, brassy explosions of wow, rather than just things that happen to be happening. Darts crowds were never exactly Wimbledon-quiet nor -sober, but here they are more than ever akin to football crowds (or how football crowds can be), breaking into spontaneous song and refusing to hush during throws. Players enter the arena like boxers, flanked by models and a security detail. They glory in daft nicknames: Canada's John Part is Darth Maple; James Wade is The Machine, probably because he often breaks down at inopportune moments; Andy Hamilton is The Hammer, so his walk-on music is "U Can't Touch This", and he carries onto the stage an inflatable hammer with which he drives an imaginary nail to the center of the earth, like some Norse god of darts and inflatable hammers.

Sky's anchorman, Dave Clark, is the most optimistic of all God's creatures; neither he nor Sky's array of pundits have ever seen a long match that might not just be the greatest ever. And then there are the commentators, who call each game as if it might at any moment break into Ragnarök. The most famous (or infamous) is Sid Waddell. Devotees of Gol TV in the United States know all about Ray Hudson's soccer commentary, all ecstasy and sense-warping similes. Waddell, another Geordie, is wilder, more florid, and even more manic. The greatest piece of sports commentary I've ever heard of (rather than actually heard, sadly) is his: "When Alexander the Great was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer. Bristow is only 27." (Waddell was recently diagnosed with cancer and missed the World Championship. Here's to a full and speedy recovery.)

Hype is worthless, however, if it doesn't connect with intrinsic properties of what it's promoting. It heightens what's already there, but only if there's something to heighten. A game so simple and, frankly, devoid of strategic depth and nuance should not be so ridiculously entertaining. In each leg, each player starts on 501 and must work their way down to exactly 0, finishing on a double. As a hole of golf requires a combination of big hitting towards the green and intricacy once there, so darts requires big scoring and often maddening attempts to score the clinching double. The targets are small and the margins incredibly fine, the distance between treble 20 and single 1, for example, is the width of a wire. It's a remarkably difficult thing to do at all, let alone consistently. One micro-miscue can mean the difference between winning and losing a best-of-five-legs set, which can set off a chain reaction of doubt in subsequent sets. A player is in competition with another, but essentially, he is fighting against himself. A darts match is a prolonged penalty shootout in which a player has all the time he needs to think himself into, or out of, the right frame of mind; it's like a too-sensitive meter. It would be cruel if it didn't involve consenting adults. Darts is a lair of that shadowy beast called Psychology, so beloved of us sports fans, and its fluctuations are made explicit in the faces of the players, captured by the cameras who never let them be. This intensifying effect on often highly-strung players can be utterly thrilling. One player may soar as the other falters, and the positions can reverse in an instant, as they did in this year's World semi-final between Adrian Lewis and James Wade: Wade led by 5 sets to 1, and had a dart to win the match at 5-3, but missed, allowing Lewis to power home. When two players get in the groove, as Andy Hamilton and Simon Whitlock did in the other semi, it's so exciting that legislation is surely in train to ban it. And once seen, a perfect nine-dart leg is never forgotten.

The marriage of hype and innate drama in darts is dizzying. Some of the specific aspects may disquiet: the atmosphere may too laddish for some tastes; and the only women on show are the walk-on girls and the cheerleaders, the latter of whom dance sans pompoms, presumably so nothing gets in the way of the copious bosom and gusset shots the Sky producers are able to squeeze into a thirty-second montage (interspersed with players' celebratory gurning for form's sake). Still, the general effect is an intoxicating glee. Sports hype can be risible and overbearing. The capricious nature of entertainment in sport won't do in the all-or-nothing world of the marketer: we are promised continual rapture, because we're worth it. Furthermore, that the hype is often carried out in the name of Mammon (it certainly is in darts) can be unsavory. But the PDC has realized that a sport must proclaim its worth, and they do so with gusto. For better or worse, this is the language of top-flight sport today. "New" sports like darts have to make themselves known in a world of games which have had a century or more for mythology and mystique to accrete around them, which they can draw upon at will. The history, the teams, the colours, the rules, the narratives, the gossip, the glitz, the bullshit: they all take a sport from being a pastime—mere play—to being a ceremony (as I'm sure Barry Hearn would put it). By enacting itself, the sport celebrates and glorifies itself.

We come here to the dart player in the room: the not uncommon conviction that darts is not a sport. There are two reasons for this. One is a mutated form of classism, that darts is a markedly working-class game. So, of course, is soccer, at least according to the popular image. But darts originated in pubs, whereas soccer, like most of the world's football codes, can trace its lineage to the playing fields of Victorian England's public schools. No one playing these modern games consciously thinks of this ancestry when doing so, but they carry in their DNA some of the supposed nobility embodied by these institutions, in the sacred spirit of mens sana in corpore sano.

Which brings us to the second reason: it is unathletic. Darts does require a certain amount of stamina, but it's hard to get around the stomachs of many of the players, spilling over their belts like cornucopia of mystery meat. One concludes that there must be some Darwinian advantage to such girth; anchorage, perhaps. Yet archery and shooting, to take two kindred sports, rarely meet such accusations. They wangled their way to Olympian respectability because they got in early, so to speak, while the sporting universe was only starting to coalesce, and on account of their military bloodlines. Clearly, this "athletes only" rule posted on the gates of sporting Elysium has small print. After all, 150 million people won't be gathering in front of their tellies in a few weeks' time to watch the Super Ballet.

Why, then, this superficial worship of the athletic? What is so precious about this one particular element of sport? Why the need to construct such arbitrary hierarchies, to play metaphysical bouncer? Could it be that we are afraid that if we examine our own sporting loves too closely, we might conclude that an awareness of their ceremonial nature may undercut their value? (It shouldn't.) Could it be that watching other members of our species who are athletically superior to us (that is, superior to us in an obvious and envious way) gives us a chance to bathe in reflected glory, that it is a twisted kind of vanity?

Of course, we want to believe that our passions are to some degree sacrosanct, and we'd all like to be live-action discoboli. But darts knows that we're also whores for drama and for the joy of watching someone do something very, very well; it knows that nothing is sacred, or at least that sacredness is a quality we ourselves invest in an activity—when it comes to sport, at any rate. If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, waddles onto the stage to the sound of "Surfin' Bird", and proceeds to throw a 105 three-dart average, one may try to tell it what it's not, but others will just delight in the tungsten terpsichorean. Fearful taxonomy is nothing next to the gaiety of nations.


Share |
TAGS: Darts, History

Comments

You wont have to pay designers hundreds of dollars and wait days for them to make you a logo. The app is also on the cloud so you can access the software while you're on the go from any electronic device הסעות בלונדון

Yes i am completely concurred with this article and i simply need say this article is exceptionally pleasant and extremely useful article.I will make a point to be perusing High Trust Flow Backlinks

An excellent post. The post affects a lot of urgent issues in our minds. We can not be indifferent to these problems. Your article gives the light in which we are able to watch our real life. Keep it up High DA Backlinks

This is my first time i visit here. I discovered such a variety of fascinating stuff in your online journal particularly its exchange. Truly its extraordinary article. Keep it up. more

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article.. Money

I think this is an informative post and it is very useful and knowledgeable. therefore, I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article...best acidophilus

Keep up the good work and please tell me when can you publish more articles or where can I read more on the subject . pure slim cleanse trial

I really enjoyed reading this post, big fan. Keep up the good work and please tell me when can you publish more articles or where can I read more on the subject. best probiotic brands

later the snooker and boxing impresario Barry Hearn, the PDC attracted more and more sponsorship money and more and more of the BDO's top professionals. The standard of play has reached new heights in the PDC,clash of clans generator

Let him playfully hatch a plan to finish off another boy's life that's better than just pulling a trigger or pushing him off the roof.
happywheelsgame123.online
cubefield.online
temple run 2
www.supersmashflash2.online
http://xdscarymazegame.com/
http://www.fireboyandwatergirl.co/

just in terms of ambient happiness and mutual goodwill and a vague but deeply felt positivity—thing that could poss. places to visit in ajmer

webpage list and will be inquiring soon.I want to surf and my beginning hotspot for data is the web journals which have constantly helped me in my instruction....instagram

Awesome article! I want people to know just how good this information is in your article. It's interesting, compelling content. Your views are much like my own concerning this subject. scary movies

I appreciated perusing your articles. This is really an incredible read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am anticipating perusing new articles. Keep doing . packers and movers in pune

Tablet computer is seen as a tiny combined with smooth point and that is quite breakable and want additional care to always be taken away. Ashy Bines Booty Challenge

he playing fields of Victorian England's public schools. No one playing these modern games consciously thinks of this ancestry when doing so, but they carry in their DNA some of the supposed nobility embodied by these institutions. 55 Printer

Your style is so unique compared to other people I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this blog double fold brochure

Your style is so unique compared to other people I have read stuff from. Thank you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I'll just bookmark this blog.55 print

It has been in development for over a year and it has a myriad of features which can be used to engage your audience and boost subscribers... 55Printing

You wont have to pay designers hundreds of dollars and wait days for them to make you a logo. The app is also on the cloud so you can access the software while you're on the go from any electronic device...ipro academy

I added it to my most lover's site webpage list and will be inquiring soon.I want to surf and my beginning hotspot for data is the web journals which have constantly helped me in my instruction. DUI Attorney

Wonderful illustrated information. I thank you about that. No doubt it will be very useful for my future projects. Would like to see some other posts on the same subject! Postcard Printing at Printing VIP

I exhort this is the essential spot where I find issues I've been chasing down. You have a keen yet appealing system for creating..
pure slim cleanse

Quality Links Is The Most Important Part Of SEO , And To Do That MY Service Is Standing Right Next To You Shoulder To Shoulder, So You Can Achieve Your Goal More Easily. We Work Hard For Your Success. No Hassle Or Tension Anymore Just Hit The ORDER NOW Button For MANUAL BLOG COMMENTING SERVICE FOR HIGH PR. All Links Will Provide DO-FOLLOW Backlink For Your.
dofollow quality backlink

We Work Hard For Your Success. No Hassle Or Tension Anymore Just Hit The ORDER NOW Button For MANUAL BLOG COMMENTING SERVICE FOR HIGH PR. All Links Will Provide DO-FOLLOW Backlink For Your.. xarelto complications

It has been in development for over a year and it has a myriad of features which can be used to engage your audience and boost subscribers... bussnies cards

It finally is the drive on the complex. astir on atypical persona's exploits. I propose it turned distant a gigantic unprotected, also I has negative been willful to scandalize that, or perhaps anyone...Mesh Banner Printing at Printing VIP

I exhort this is the essential spot where I find issues I've been chasing down. You have a keen yet appealing system for creating.. website traffic

I like how you think and the way you represent your views in this article. I agree with your way of thinking. places to visit in ajmer

will be a reflection of all your hard work while documenting the happenings which were planned and posed as welltmj splint
as those spontaneous and candid moments.

later the snooker and boxing impresario Barry Hearn, the PDC attracted more and more sponsorship money and more and more of the BDO's top professionals. The standard of play has reached new heights in the PDC, and it is easily superior to the BDO.
hungry shark evolution hack download |
gemmes clash of clans cydia

I exhort this is the essential spot where I find issues I've been chasing down. You have a keen yet appealing system for creating... website traffic

there are worse stories we could tell. If only to acknowledge that we’re trying to tell a story as much as we’re talking football.
high resolution maps

Je l'ai redécouvert il y a peu de temps et j'ai pensé qu'une grande boîte serait idéale pour accueillir cette broderie. situs poker online

I would like to thank you for the efforts you partition walls
have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. Thanks.

This is also a very good post which I really enjoyed reading. It is not everyday that I have the possibility here I found it
to see something like this..

He couldn't remember where the web root was to point ColdFusion server at his custom tags directory

SEO link building

Its a great pleasure reading your post.Its full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that
hazardous waste containers

You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. tmj home treatments
I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work.

You have a good point here!I totally agree with what you have said!!Thanks for sharing your views. dui classes los angeles
..hope more people will read this article!

Thanks meant for sharing this type of satisfying opinion, written piece is fastidious, that’s why I’ve read it completely... Medical Administrative

I always choose to learn the standard material and this factor I came across in you publish. Thanks for discussing.
recommended site

So why is it that so many of us shy away from getting our affairs in order. nat vps

Cleveland, and I thought I would be rewarded. I guess they rewarded me by trading me to Atlanta.”
عقاري جدة
دليل بروكر
موقع شعلة

I am excited to see a printing business still operating and growing, great job guys. pure slim cleanse

A l'époque, je ne cartonnais pas et je ne savais que faire de ce modèle. Je l'ai redécouvert il y a peu de temps et j'ai pensé qu'une grande boîte serait idéale pour accueillir cette broderie.
products to sell

Thank you so much for sharing Somik. We can learn much from what you had to say of your experience. Being in the present is all there is. Our schools too often do not pay attention to student's present experiences. Warm and kind regards DUI Attorney

semester. Pertaining to any customers receive pay attention to and additionally keep on shut off the software
v
all about betting

semester. Pertaining to any customers receive pay attention to and additionally keep on shut off the software
v

This is a great post. I like this topic.This site has lots of advantage.I found many interesting things from this site. It helps me in many ways.Thanks for posting this again www.proteccozumel.com