Darts a Sport

Dear “DARTS Beginning to End”…???……How can something that you do while drinking and smoking be called a sport? Bar activity or game, maybe, but not a sport. Answer me that!



Appropriate question aboveitall. Why should darts be considered a sport? Short answer? I have not the foggiest idea. But then I don’t know why golf is a sport since a lot of practitioners of that “sport” drink and smoke. I also don’t understand sports “authorities” condemning the activity simply because of the venue in which it is contested. In fact I have no idea what the requisites are for an activity to qualify as a sport or even who does the defining. Synchronized swimming? Ice Skating? Pool shooting? Bowling? Fishing? Lots of “games” are already sports aren’t they?


My dictionary says: Sport n 1a: a source of diversion: RECREATION b: sexual play c(1): physical activity engaged in for pleasure (2): a particular activity (as hunting or an athletic game) so engaged in.


Well, here’s my take. If being a sport requires competition then darts most certainly qualifies. If being a sport requires a certain amount of dedication, practice, knowledge, physical dexterity, coordination and desire to achieve, then darts certainly qualifies. Every “sport” is a game to start with, then becomes a sport somehow. All “Games” that are sports have amateur type competition as part of their overall attraction and some even have handicaps built into the amateur part. Handicaps are great for helping a “game” to grow in quantity of participation but really bad for a “Sport” which is the quality measurement of a game. Let’s not confuse playing at darts with competing in darts. Handicapping a dart league could meet a criterion of being a game as opposed to being a sport, I suppose, since handicapping destroys the very essence of sporting competition where the best are tested on an equal field. The essence of competition though, trying to win against an opponent, is just as fierce with or without handicaps and can be argued to be more intense


I called a radio sports talk show and asked the question: “Why do the Olympic organizers refer to their event as the “Games of the (pick your number) Olympiad” and what are the requisites for games to be considered a sport?” The hosts responded that anything that involves competition can be called a sport. Poker can be described as a sport. They referred to the Olympic events of Synchronized swimming and Curling which are considered sports and from there on denigration of such types of competition became the center of their interest. The topic, and I, were cut off quickly when I mentioned the UK recognizing darts as a sport and they learned I was connected to our “sport.”


Here’s another point of view. According to Glenn Remick (ADA President). Fox TV and ESPN people define a sport by whether there are professionals playing the game. No “pros”- no sport! No sport – no TV time. It’s all about the image!! In order to be considered a professional a person must be certified as such by an organization which governs the conduct of its members, penalizes for infractions and collects statistics. This organization must be national in scope and anyone it deems a professional must have statistics to support the ranking the “pro” has within the organization. Earning a living at something does not qualify the “something” as anything but a vocation or avocation, nor does having that “something” as a vocation or avocation qualify a person for being a professional at it. Amateurs play “hobbies” or “leisure time” games where there is no path to professional standing. It hasn’t anything to do with how much money there is but it does require a “pro” to be at it full time. Full time may be defined by the organization governing the sport but should at least be three quarters of the year. Active competition for a full year is not required, some of that time may be promotion of the sport.


From Patrick Chaplin (darts historian of the UK)


In the UK there’s always been a problem defining what exactly a sport is. It seems to depend on who’s asking and what the motives are. As you probably know it’s taken at least ten years for darts to be accepted as a sport by the four UK Sports Councils. The SCs had argued darts down on the basis that there was ‘insufficient physical effort’ involved. So why was pistol shooting and archery accepted by those Councils and the IOC (International Olympic Committee)? I always thought it was a classist thing; working man’s game and all that – and I still believe that to be the case.


I suppose you can say my only interest in the question “What is sport?” is how it applies to darts, but during my own research I have had to take a wider view and have come across a number of definitions of ‘sport’. However, from a scholarly perspective the Encyclopedia of World Sports edited by David Levinson and Karen Christensen (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, Inc., 1996) Volume I, pages xvii and 247-249 offer definitions of ‘play’, ‘games’ and ‘sport.’ It’s a good starting point if you want to pursue the point further.


Input from Dartoid: “My view is that until chalkers are required to go topless none of this really matters.” (I hope I have the quote correct)


Dan Patrick Peek, Author “To The Point: The Story of Darts in America


One author’s discussion of the definition of sport, pages 65-70.


I’ve taken the liberty of extracting some of this five page, in depth look at our subject. The full discourse is available within the pages of the book.


“What the dictionary definition does not note is perhaps the most important differentiation between game, or exercise, and sports. The difference is that sports have a culture in addition to the rules that games and exercises have. Games and exercises have rules and requirements of play only. Sports are games or exercises that have developed additional requirements having to do with things like a special language and style and methods of expressing emotion. A sport is created by the development of a culture specific to the contest of skill or strength from which it arises.”


“The tricky thing about the sport of darts is that it may be the ultimate example of what happens when civilization is brought to bear upon a blood sport. There is something of the ab origine about darts, something “from the beginning.”


“Sport, even those that break the bones of or sometimes kill participants, is nonetheless “civilized.” They are contained, they rely on some form of justice and they are played under rules established by a wider society than that of merely the participants – if nothing more global than the “house rules.”


“When we examine darts from a point of view of its being a “civilized” blood sport, the chivalrous protocols and strictly required courtesies that are characteristics of most kinds of darts games make a great deal of sense. Perhaps posing darts in this light may even help us to understand from whence comes the sense of compunction, of moral hesitation, which seems to dog the sport.”


To sum up: like a lot of things about our sport, once you start looking at it closely you find much underpinning. Darts is not, repeat not, only a kids game done for occupying one’s mind with distraction from life’s tedium. It turns into a serious and important outlet for our basic competitive urges, for which the need can not be overestimated. Everything a sport requires is present in our game, except the blessings of the sport media.

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