Column #167 It’s Showtime!

July 4, 2004
Column 167
It’s Showtime!

One week ago, some 350 men and women from all over the world, including England, a country somewhere in Europe, began to gather in Las Vegas for the Professional Darts Corporation’s (PDC) 3rd Annual Desert Classic darts tournament. Following four qualifying rounds and four days of intense stage competition, the field has now been narrowed to just two men and two women.

First up in the semi-finals was the match the Americans still left in the arena were waiting for: John Part against England’s exciting Wayne “Hawaii 501” Mardle. The crowd didn’t have to wait long for the Canadian — two-time world champion and current world-ranked number one — to start pounding the big numbers. Unfortunately, the wait for Darth Maple to hit the small numbers — the doubles — was almost interminable. Through the first two sets he was just 1 for 15 (an amazingly low 6.67% out-shot success percentage) while, during the same stretch, Mardle was nailing the double top as routinely as he finishes jars back at the pub in Dagenham. In the end, Part was torn apart — and went down with barely a whimper, 4-1. Another hoped for Battle of the Titans — Part versus Phil “The Power” Taylor finals clash was not to be.

The second semi brought us a replay, at least of the participants, in the finals of the Ladbrokes.com world championships at Purfleet this past January: 11-time — and current — world champion, Taylor, versus the only other bloke (Kevin Painter) besides Part who seems to have figured out a way to give the champ a game. Six months ago, Painter painted Taylor into a corner that he only barely escaped, pushed the champion to the limit and even eased him into “retirement” for a period of time. Today it was not “déjà vu all over again.”

Painter did grab the crowd’s attention early, pushing his average to just over 107 in the first set, while The Power struggled with an uncharacteristically low average of 76 and, at one point, even let six darts fly at the double three without a strike. Painter won the first set and picked up another along the way, but once Taylor hit his stride the result was never in doubt.

For the ladies, well… that’s another story.

If you were in the arena you could watch the two semi-final matches: Stacy Bromberg versus Carolyn Mars and Gayl King versus Trina Gulliver. Perhaps (though for some reason I doubt it) if you were watching telly back in the Mother Country, you could cheer on your favorites from the comfort of your couch. But, if like me, you tuned into the PDC’s live audio feed to catch the play-by-play — there was nothing there. It was just as bad as last year when Sky Television and Fox Sports World suddenly blipped off their broadcast, depriving Americans of the opportunity to watch Roger Carter take on Jamie Harvey.

So I checked the PDC web site first thing this morning — just before posting this column. Nothing was there, not a mere peep about the results of the ladies semi-final round. I checked a few other web sites that I thought might have the information and again found zip. There’s nothing anywhere. And the last thing I’m going to do is ring someone at the MGM and startle their ass out of bed to get the skinny. For now, I’ll just have to take consolation in the knowledge that one of the two finals this wonderful July 4 will involve an American.

I don’t understand why ladies in darts are treated like second-class citizens. During the qualifiers earlier this week their boards were positioned out of the way on the far side of the room. After qualifying, they were forced to wait three days before stepping back to the line. They’re competing for a pittance compared to the men. So respectfully (and I mean this, seriously, in spite of the little joke that’s coming), I hereby urge all of the PDC honchos to reconsider the way you’ve been treating the ladies. I can almost guarantee you that if something doesn’t change, and soon, you aren’t… how do I put this, delicately?

Tommy Cox and Dick Allix and everybody else, if something doesn’t change fast, well… I can assure you, your chances are pretty much nil of getting laid. In America we consider this a bad thing. In addition, attendance among the ladies at future tournaments is almost certain to decline. This would be a bad thing too.

So, finally, it’s SHOWTIME!

Toeing the line shortly, under the lights and for much of the world to watch on television (except in America — which is probably pay-back for winning our independence) will be two of the most exciting players in the sport: Wayne Mardle and Phil Taylor.

Following that, in what will probably be just as exciting a final, two ladies from somewhere, both of whom are better than most of the men who shoot league and amateur tournaments anywhere, will step to the line they fought all week to get to and throw a match that hardly nobody, nowhere, will ever have a chance to see.

Truly, this is something that needs corrected.

Good luck to everybody!

From the Field,

Dartoid

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Dartoid
Author of the column that since 1995 has been featured by Bull’s Eye News, the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) Double Eagle and numerous other darts publications and websites around the globe.

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