Darts: a game where participants compete with one another by throwing small arrow like devices at a target that is round and has numbers and sections and an inner bull with an outer bull and so on. Darts now refer to the standard game with a specific bristle board design and a set of rules. Rules that are general to the game and rules that govern games like, “501,” “301,” and “Cricket.”

Darts is a traditional pub game that was and is commonly played in the United Kingdom as well as other places in Europe and across the pond here in the America’s.

Wikipedia tells hits history in a terse form, i.e., “The dartboard may have its origins in the cross-section of a tree. An old name for a dartboard is "butt"; the word comes from the French word but, meaning "target". In particular, the Yorkshire and Manchester Log End boards differ from the standard board in that they have no treble, only double and bullseye, the Manchester board being of a smaller diameter, with a playing area of only 25 cm across with double and bull areas measuring just 4 mm. The London Fives board is another variation. This has only 12 equal segments numbered 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10, 20, 5, 15, 10 with the doubles and triples being a quarter of an inch wide.”

There have been a variety of darts created over the years but the most common today is the tungsten dart. There are electronic darts but for this blog and for my efforts in tossing darts I remain a steel dart fan and enthusiast. I am recommending a book for novice darters but only because it appealed to me and my studies and rest assured most of the dart books out there are outstanding. In short, find one if this one does not fit your needs and get it. I can tell you when I started to play over twenty years ago, before I laid down my darts in 96, I tossed darts for several years without knowing some very important and critical mechanics, etc., of the dart game. As I take up once again my steel darts I have found a fountain of information to help make the game both enjoyable and competitive. Enjoy, diddle for the middle and let the darts fly!

Monday, February 13, 2017

But for the Width of a Wire

Dart Arts Article/Post Caveat (Read First Please: Click the Link)

In my recent exposure to those who have been actively in the dart arts for decades and along with my puzzlement to why American Darts is not as popular as the dart arts of Europe I finally found the article that explains why. This is a short article on that why as it pertains to a meme I have heard time and again while enjoying the tossing of arrows.

The article was written by Dick Allix and it was titled, “Kismet.” In a nutshell, the opportunity was there and two issues arose that would literally leave the future of professional darts in our country to the “Width of a Wire.” When you hear someone say this meme it is usually in a close contest where one player misses the target just to the wrong side of a board wire while the other player keeps the dart in the target, the true or scoring side of the wire. As you read his article; circumstances, perceptions and the distinctions either assigned due to perceptions or distinctions held already steered those with the power to boost the dart arts to higher levels were such that even the slightest of faults would kill the dart arts in America. 

Here Mr. Allix states emphatically, “In regard to the history of the dart arts, emphasis on North America, it’s not exactly an illustrious story of success, yet if certain things had turned out differently, the stature of the dart arts today might be totally different, changed by circumstance or the width of a wire - literally.” 

He goes on the give examples of situations that governed circumstances influencing those in position to promote the dart arts who already had incorrect and inaccurate perceptions of the game making the climb, higher and with more obstacles already in the environment. After all, the examples had the interest of network television - big time. One example, “We were playing a championship in the U.K., a team captained by one American top player who had the chance to play a perfect game when no one else had played a perfect game to date in darts history in competition.”

The American player stepped up to the oche line: scored 180, then scored another 180, then with the last three darts hit treble 20, treble 19 and was left with one dart and aimed at the double 12. His dart landed just outside of the double 12, just outside the wire that designated the double 12 target zone. As Mr. Allix says, if he had hit the double 12 it could have made a huge splash on TV and in the media back in America. He goes on to provide other examples similar to this one. 

In the end, it was not for the lack of talent but the inability to get past the width of a wire or the final hurdle like karma was just not on their side. Any dart’ist who is in this discipline already knows and understands, darts can be fickle even for the best of the best where that one dart slips to the outside of a target wire, the width of a wire, taking the game away from that player simply because, and many of the American media just didn’t know or understand, that one dart slips to the wrong side of a wire. 

When I wrote about how Mr. Allix referred to the perceptions of those with the power to boost the discipline of the dart arts was tainted due to ignorance he stated simply, “In 1985, all three networks (NBC, ABC, and CBS) who sent news crews to England to film the sport documentaries thought of the discipline of the dart arts as, Quaint, old pub game - but with big money,” in short, they were predisposed to thinking less of the discipline than it warranted. “They treated it in a whimsical, half-sarcastic way.” He quoted one network saying, “Hey folks, you are just not gonna believe what these weird folk in little old England are treating as a serious sport! Yes, darts, yuk yuk yuk. Boy, whacky, huh?”

Mr. Allix goes on to suggest, “Had they done it in a serious, informative way, maybe it would have triggered ABC Sports inot discussing coverage of, let us say, the North American Open. But they didn’t and it didn’t, and that time and opportunity passed on.” It put the dart arts in a category of a children’s game or the pub game after work while tossing down a few brews while socializing with buddies, etc. 

Add in broadcasting of tournaments at 2am in the morning, if they made it to television, the loss of any possibility of profitability to sponsoring businesses and the detrimental influences explained in the article from the media powers, the dart arts has slowly lost its possible positive momentum also exacerbated by the very top players themselves to attitudes not conducive to promoting the very discipline they achieved mastery within. 

Now, this will truly get you up and wondering, especially if you play steel tip dart arts, there is, or WAS, an effort and due diligent consideration of making the dart arts a … wait for it … An Olympic Sport, with gold, silver and bronze medals and all the trimmings of that great responsibility, The Olympics!

Now, even with the concerted effort to avoid giving the dart arts its due, there is a remote chance that if they actually allowed it into the Olympics then it just might change the attitudes and beliefs of the dart arts into something it deserves, An Olympic Sport!

For me, personally, I am saddened that things didn’t go as hoped in those days. In the eighties I took up the game for a couple of years and played really well. Our team, one year, won the local Bug Light Tournament and seemed to be attracting a huge following. I, don’t remember the exact reasons, dropped out until just the last year of the dart arts. When I came back in at the age of sixty-two, I was surprised to find that the dart arts and its participation by dart’ists, steel tip, was no longer as prominent as it was that twenty plus years ago. 

When back then you could go almost anywhere and find the dart arts being played, now I had a difficult time finding even a very few local efforts going on for steel tip dart arts. I was saddened to find that little is published on the discipline and even the American top players are not found even on the Internet and in social media except in very rate an singular ways not as available as the Internet makes other things. This is sad. 

Anyway, I finally found this article that explained where the meme, width of a wire, came from and why. It also answered my question of why the game is not as popular as it was in those earlier years, 80’s, and why we Americans are not seen in the European Dart World where the dart arts are embraced as a serious discipline and now makes really big money a possibility as can be seen by its current champion (Michael VanGerwin), who has earned millions just in the dart arts alone. You would think this huge rich country of ours would see the potential since the dart arts has move way out of UK and across most of Europe and make it more of a discipline and sport right here in our good ole U. S. of A.

We can all say, if we choose, that if not for the width of a wire, for karma or kismet if you will, we would be watching the dart arts on the sports network at a time all family members could watch but it goes deeper and wider than that width of a wire, it goes to how we assume and how we perceive and the distinctions we assign things with little or no real effort to dig down and discover the true nature of things. We all want it now, and it must give us instant gratification and if it takes any real effort and doesn’t come with its own app then we tend to discard it without giving it even a slight chance. That, my dear reader and dart’ist, is just plain old sad!

Game ON!

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