Stand up and admire the demotic nobility of darts

Surely the argument over whether this is a sport or not can be considered redundant

Share
Related Topics

Given that luck plays a smaller part in darts than in any other sport I can think of, isn't there a case to be made that darts is, in fact, the purest sport of all? And as its competitors behave with courtesy, dignity and generosity of spirit, couldn't you also say that, as example of how a top-class, televised, big money sport can be practiced with decorum, darts has very equals.

What's more, the crowds it attracts to see the worlds best players are enthusiastic and knowledgable and don't let their partisan feelings override their love for the sport. “Stand up if you love the darts,” the audience at Alexandra Palace sang with feeling during the final of the PDC World Championship on Tuesday night.

There are very few sports which engender this sense of community as darts. And can't Phil Taylor, who claimed his 16th world title at the age of 52, lay claim to the title of Britain's most successful sportsman? Hang on a minute, I hear you say, who decided that darts is a sport in the first place?

I do think that argument, which has been raging on Twitter these past 24 hours, is a redundant one. Darts requires skill, stamina, physical dexterity and mental toughness. How is that not a sport? Shooting is in the Olympic Games, so why isn't darts? There is an undeniable prejudice against darts, which is still widely regarded as a pub pastime, no more demanding of serious consideration than cribbage or dominoes. But the origins of darts tell of a more noble lineage and it is thought to have its roots in a game played by soldiers in the Middle Ages, who threw shortened spears at a slice of a felled tree, the age circles of the tree acting as the crude forerunner to today's dartboard. But despite its inextricable link to licensed premises – something not exactly contradicted by the sight of the thousands of excitable spectators at Ally Pally seated at long tables groaning with alcoholic refreshment – darts is a truly demotic sport and has its adherents across all social strata. Who would have thought that Stephen Fry, for instance, would be so enraptured by “arrers”? I assume the ubiquitous cultural omnivore was not in the least ironic in his advocacy of darts, but his recent tweet – “sport and theatre unite to create entertainment at its primal best” – articulated perfectly the feelings of those privileged to watch the final between the warhorse Taylor and Michael van Gerwen.

But what touched me most was not the skill and nerve of the competitors, but their nobility. And throughout, there was time from the players and the crowd to remember Sid Waddell, the legendarily locquacious darts commentator, who died last year. So the last word should go to Sid: “If we'd had Phil Taylor at Hastings, the Normans would have gone home!”

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam