As I sat down in my living room, cracked open a cold beer and turned on the Final of the World Darts Championship I thought to myself, is this really a sport? Obviously the men competing in this final have an outstanding talent and throwing a dart at a tiny strip is something that takes a steady arm and a huge level of concentration. But as I looked at myself and then the men adorning the stage I realised that I, an average build teenage male, was in much superior physical shape than the competitors on show. Which made me start to look at the for and against arguments in this debate. Is Darts a sport or is it simply a pub game that requires great concentration?
First of all, I’d like to state that I’m a big darts fan and that I regularly watch live events that are broadcast on television. I recognise that men like Phil Taylor and Raymond van Barneveld have mastered their art and are truly professionals in what they do, practising for hours on end in order to be the best, along with a small cluster of other men who call this game their life. But beyond the obvious big names, I don’t see many men making a living out of this game.
In tournaments such as the UK Open, you witness a huge number of men attempting to qualify. Most of which have honed their skills down the local pub, throwing arrows in synchronization with necking pints. This is something that is part of the history and culture of darts though not really something you would identify with an athlete; though drinking alcohol is now banned from the stages of professional events. These men usually have a real job such in fields such as building, plumbing, etc, whereas darts is simply a hobby of theirs and not something that they can make a living out of.The amount of truly professional darts players is minimal.
To try and help my decision, I decided to look up the definition of a sport, as one way of settling my debate. The definition I found was:
“Sport is an activity that is governed by a set of rules or customs and often engaged in competitively.”
Darts falls into this category, meaning it must be considered as a sport in some from despite its sceptics. I have come to the conclusion that darts is a sport that is easier than most to start playing and reach a certain level but is one of the hardest to master as shown by the dominance of a small number of players, in particular Phil Taylor, the 14 time World Champion. Although not a sport graced by Olympic-style athletes, darts is a sport that can be enjoyed by anyone and maybe sometimes that is more important than physical attributes. I for one will continue to watch this spectacle and maybe even have a pint as I do it. After all, that’s what the players do!