The debate between darts fans continues to be ferocious when discussing whether the sport can be considered as a serious sport, or a pub game. Fingers are always pointed towards the stereotypical view that is the athletic prowess of an overweight, beer drinking, middle-aged man. The general conclusion from that opinion is that there is no way any dart player can be considered as either a sportsman or sportswoman.
Those who disagree with that view would argue that pointing out a player’s weight can sometimes be beneficial to their ability when playing. In the case of Andy Fordham, it was often highlighted that his weight gain, and general health problems did in fact help to improve his throw.
When the term ‘sport’ is thrown around, there are always limitations that must be considered. There is the argument that those who are unfit and overweight are more likely to play darts, and that the game is made for alcoholic lager louts who spend most of their time in a pub.
Tournaments like the Premier League are well-known to have an electric atmosphere, with thousands attending the venues that are spread across the UK. There is an argument that a lot of spectators don’t necessarily go to watch the darts, but instead see it more as an opportunity to get drunk.
The culture of darts has always involved alcohol, although the game does have two sides to it. Since the split between the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and the British Darts Organisation (BDO) in the 1990s, there has been a strong divide between the type of fans that watch competitions ran between the two governing bodies.
There is a famous chant used by those who watch events from the PDC that says, “boring, boring, tables”. This is a mockery of the BDO, whose spectators tend to sit at a table to watch a match, in a more reserved nature.
Darts should be considered as both a game and a sport in my opinion, due to the ranging abilities between your typical ‘pub’ player, and a Michael van Gerwen. It is a game that requires an awful lot of skill and concentration, particularly when played at the top level on a global scale.
The darts World Cup was introduced to the PDC calendar since 2010, and has continued to grow ever-since. There have been several players from within Europe who have started to break through on the PDC circuit, with the likes of Rowby-John Rodriguez (Austria), and Cristo Reyes (Spain) all proving that the game is growing outside of the UK and Holland.
Darts should be welcomed as a game in pubs and bars, and part of the reason why so many people love it because of how it doesn’t take itself too seriously. If the stereotype people hold continues because of this, then so be it. Michael van Gerwen threw 17 perfect darts during the 2013 World Championship, which is nothing short of a sporting triumph. Players like ‘MvG’ continue to defy the odds, and the game deserves to get the coverage it does within the media.