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02nd Jan 2017

Anyone who tells you darts isn’t a sport, stop talking to them

It's not even an argument

Conan Doherty

If you’ve ever tried to hit a double before in your life, you’ll be well aware of the skill it takes.

You’ll be well aware of the practice it requires.

The nerve. The conviction. The expertise.

Anyone who thinks sport involves this vague, general idea and ideal that you have to be gasping for air with the legs hanging off you or spilling blood all over a stereotyped uniform, they’ve obviously never watched an NFL kicker in action.

They probably wouldn’t even appreciate someone as effortless as Andrea Pirlo strutting around leisurely in some mind-boggling purgatory between beast mode and sleep mode.

Anyone who thinks darts isn’t a sport – or snooker or archery or whatever for that matter – you should just stop talking to them.

Back in school, we learned the simplest, most bang-on definition of sport in our PE class. Nothing has ever topped it or encapsulated sport like this sentence – it leaves nothing to wonder.

Sport is a competitive, institutionalised activity which involves EITHER the use of physical exertion, or relatively complex physical skills.

It concludes by saying its participants are motivated by personal enjoyment or external rewards.

Stick to that definition and you can’t go far wrong.

Darts is competitive. It’s wildly competitive. And, Christ, anyone who watched poor Daryl Gurney trying to hold his nerve in front of a hostile Alexandra Palace over Christmas will understand the pressure of that competition.

The sport is institutionalised and it’s only getting bigger and bigger.

And whilst it might not exactly have boys bowled over with exhaustion from the strenuous activity of it all, darts involves highly complex physical skills and the definition of sport requires EITHER of those two. Not both.

By that token, if you’re going to write darts off because it doesn’t involve physical exertion, you may as well cross marathon running off that list too because it involves no relatively complex physical skills.

The execution required to do what darts players do is incredible. The dedication, more so.

Just because you might not like the surroundings of it or some of their physiques, don’t try to play down what they’re doing and don’t think for a second that guys who’ve emerged above all the millions in the world playing the sport are anything to laugh at.

They’re serious, serious sportsmen playing at an extremely elite level. Anyone who’s ever tried to put a flight back onto their dart will tell you that and they’ll sure as hell show you the difference in standard too.