Darts a sport?

See the discussion of what a sport is (and whether darts counts as one)at:
http://r-p-e.blogspot.com/2007/01/defining-sport.html as well – as that offers more detail than this short version…

OK – guess what I got for Christmas… As hinted at by the image, you can correctly presume that Santa brought me a dartboard. One of the consequences of this is that my office wall is now peppered with small holes. Another is that it got me thinking about the labelling of darts as a ‘sport’.

I took my thoughts to the internet – and discovered that the UK Darts groups (such as the British Darts Organisation) have fought a long campaign to have darts officially recognised as a sport… The case for seeing darts as a sport can be seen at http://www.patrickchaplin.com/Darts_is_a_sport.htm

This led me to thinking about what a sport is. I have asked a colleague with more expertise than myself in this area to put something together for the blog – but in the meantime, thought it was an interesting topic to get our minds moving with after xmas. Some things we recognise as sports – such as athletics. Some are games – monopoly, cluedo, etc. Some are sports and games – football.

But what are the nature of the distinctions – and where does this leave darts?

(It is worth noting the definitions of sport listed at http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=sport it may help…)

Comments welcome – Dave


David W... says:

Thanks to Darts historian Dr Patrick Chaplin, for an e-mail which points out that the “is darts a sport?” debate has now raged for at least two decades.

He also adds another interestinq question: Should darts be featured in the 2012 Olympics?

Frances says:

i love darts. i love everything about it. i’m not a player but i love to watch it. i do hawever love it for the stereotype. i love the fact that (mainly) porky, middle aged men can be world chapmion at something (however this was not the case last year when 17 year old Yella Klassen won the world title).

my favourite ever line from recent dart history was when Andy Fordham won the title in 2004 (against Raymond van Barneveld). the camera was panning over the crowd and Syd Waddel suddenly said ‘and there’s Fordham’s trainer who keeps him in peak physical condition’. Fordham is 30 stone at the least and as a mullet. Brilliant

David W... says:

An e-mail comment from James H (a graduate of Gloucestershire, and someone with an interest in philosophy of sport) writes:

“I think this depends on which way you look at sport. If you are in the camp that says the definitive part of what makes a sport is that it involves physical exertion, then you would struggle to make a claim that darts should be considered a sport. (Being able to drink 15 pints also does not classify as a sport!!) There is no doubt that it involves high levels of skill and concentration which are traits to be found in sports, however, there is no real physical demand in darts if it is to be compared to other sports such as rugby or football. If you look at various sporting role models such as “Freddie” Flintoff, Steven Gerrard and Phil Vickery, would you really put someone like Phil “the power” Taylor in the same category? Again i would not question the amount of time and effort Phil Taylor puts into darts and would readily accept that he works as hard if not harder than the others at his game. However, is there that physical demand on him as there is on the others i have mentioned?? Also, maybe this is something of a side issue, but would you rather your son or daughters sporting role model was Steven Gerrard or Phil Taylor? It is not a secret that some and i must stress, not all darts players do not promote the most health conscious lifestyles and a lot are quite clearly obese. Is that something that is regularly found in a sportsperson?

The other side of the argument would say that there is a competitive nature and skill levels required that deserve the title of a sport and not a game or past time. Games and past times are generally something that you can pick up and do any time you want, however, if you want to be good at something like darts then like any other sport, you only get better with practise. Top darts players have to have skills and concentration levels that rival if not better other sports like cricket or football. Also all the other elements that are found in top level sport were shown in the Taylor Vs Van Barneveld world final yesterday, emotion, intensity, pressure, joy, exhilaration and disappointment.

Something else that tends to give backing to darts being a sport is archery. Archery has similarities with darts and again doesn’t seem to require a lot of physical exertion. However, the difference between the 2 is that archery is an Olympic sport whereas there is a debate as to whether darts can even be described as a sport. Are the differences between the 2 so great that one is an Olympic sport and the other struggles to be classified as a sport? Or should it be the case that both are called into question as to whether they are actually sports?”

Paul says:

Shooting is an Olympic sport too, arguably requiring even less exertion than either darts or archery.

Perhaps we should really consider taking some of these “sports” out of the Olympics completely, rather than adding them in.

Right, time for my synchronised swimming lesson….

Paul says:

Actually that’s lead me to another idea about sports – those involving some sort of artistic impression such as synchronised swimming, gymnastics floor work, ice skating etc. Most sports rely on a fixed scoring system based on times, points, goals, distance and the like, but as soon as you have a sport that is open to the judges’ subjective artistic interpretations, then can it still be classified as a true sport? I realise that the three pursuits I’ve mentioned require a great deal of physical exertion but should true champions be decided on the whims of a few experts rather than an absolutely objective numeric points system?

One other thing has always bothered me about a particular sport that a lot of people follow. Imagine if Roger Federer were given a 1 game head start for every match, or Man Utd were allowed to start each game 1-0 up. Or even, if you will, Phil “The Power” Taylor[1] were allowed to start with 180 points knocked off. There would be uproar, and quite rightly so. But in which sport does this happen every time; i.e. the competitor who is the best gets a significant head start? Anyone?

[1] I’ve just realised why he has that nickname

Anonymous says:

The sport where the best competitor has a head start is of course motor racing.
If a sport requires both skill and physical exertion why is bricklaying not a competitive activity?

I consider dart as a sport. It requires skill and concentration.

rajmangal says:

The other side of the argument would say that there is a competitive nature and skill levels required that deserve the title of a sport and not a game or past time. Personal Trainer Network

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