Column #172 Call Samuel N. Zammuto and tell him what YOU think!

October 12, 2004
Column 172
Call Samuel N. Zammuto and tell him what YOU think!

LONDON (Reuters) — In a move that sent shock waves throughout the international darting community yesterday, Tim Darby, Chief Executive of the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) announced that eleven-time World Champion, Phil Taylor, is to be banned from all PDC-sanctioned events for the next three years.

“You are to be commended for your outstanding caliber of play over the past decade’s time,” wrote Darby in a letter posted from Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire. “You have brought great respect to darts, legitimizing the sport internationally. Therefore, whilst this decision has been taken with regret, and whilst I do wish to extend congratulations for all you have achieved, please receive this letter as notification of your disqualification from play until 1 January, 2008. Parity must be returned to the sport. You are just too good.”

Then, in a shocking, but apparently coordinated move, it was learnt, that American Darts Organization President (ADO), Roger Bick, posted as many as a dozen similar letters to American players, including John Kuczynski, Darin Young, Paul Lim, and Bruce Cottrell, each who competed at the PDC-sponsored Desert Classic event in Las Vegas this past July.

None of the Americans could be reached for comment.
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Now, I ask you, does this sound frickin’ ridiculous?

Does it sound unfair?

Does it sound ILLEGAL?

Could something so utterly outrageous ever actually occur?

If it did, and you were Taylor or Kuczynski or any of the others, what would you do?

I’ll tell you what you’d do. You’d call Darby and tell him he was WRONG!

If such decisions did come down and did not affect you personally, what would your reaction be?

I’ll tell you what your reaction should be. You should pick up the phone, call Darby and tell him to CORRECT THE INJUSTICE!

Of course, the above Reuters’ story is fictitious.

I made it up to get your attention.

I did this because what follows is true, and worse, and something needs to be done about it.

In a letter dated July 27, 2004, two American female darters, Stacy Bromberg and Teena Marie Cunningham received letters from Arachnid’s Executive Vice President, Samuel N. Zammuto. Arachnid sponsors the popular circuit of BullShooter soft-tip tournaments. Below is the letter Bromberg received.

Amazing as it is, this is not made up (although the emphasis is mine). I am reprinting the letter exactly as it was written, improper grammar, misspellings and all.

Dear Stacy,

Congratulations on your performance at BullShooter XIX for an excellent weekend of shooting darts! Congratulations also on being awarded Most Valuable Player and distinguishing yourself as a world class dart player.

It has been brought to my attention that yourself and Teena Marie Cunningham finished 7th – 8th place in Open Doubles Cricket on Monday afternoon at the BullShooter. Both of you have now qualified under BullShooter rules as PRO status players. You have been taken off the Women’s A List and added to the BullShooter Pro List. This limits your registrations to all Pro events at upcoming Regional Tournaments and the BullShooter XX Finals on Memorial Day weekend 2005. With the Pro status that you and Teena received, you will no longer be able to participate in Woman’s events over the next three years at Regional Tournaments or BullShooter Finals. I am enclosing a copy of special information and rules for you to look at.

Arachnid believes a player of your caliper (huh?) adds a great deal of credibility to the BullShooter Finals!

Congratulations!!

Best Regards,
Samuel N. Zammuto

What does this all mean?

I’ll tell you what it means! In a handful of sentences, Zammuto stole Bromberg’s and Cunningham’s gender!

In Bromberg’s case, darts being how she makes her living, with the stroke of a pen, Zammuto stole part of Bromberg’s livelihood.

This Executive Vice President of Arachnid, who can’t spell and who didn’t have the decency to call Bromberg or Cunningham to break his discriminatory news, then added insult to injury by not even personally signing the letters he sent. At least in Bromberg’s case, the letter appears to be initialed by a secretary. I could be wrong. Zammuto might just write like a girl. And spell like a child.

Think back to the beginning of this column. Imagine that Taylor and the rest really did receive letters banning them from play. What would they do? What should they do?

Imagine you’re Trina Gulliver, Francisca Hoenselaar, Crissy Manley, or Yukari Nishikaua. Imagine your last name is Daggy, Mars, Eslin, Popp, Payne, Digregorio, Roush, Wilmar, or Chesney. You’re just too good. You gotta shoot against the men.

What would you do? What should you do?

Imagine the outrage, the lawsuits, if the International Tennis Federation (ITF) sent letter’s like Zammuto’s to Serena Williams and Lindsey Davenport. You’re too good. You gotta play against the men.

Imagine the uproar, the legal hullabaloo, had Jackie Joyner-Kersee received a Zammuto-like letter from the International Olympic Committee. You’re just too good. You gotta run against the men.

How about Layla Ali. What if deep inside the International Female Boxers Association (IFBA) some guy like Zummato mailed Ali a letter and told her to lace up her gloves and climb into the ring to box men instead of women. You’re just too good. Besides, we want you to take off your shirt.

The country would go NUTS, that’s what would happen.

Somebody would get sued for discrimination. And that’s what should happen to Zammuto. The man has lost his mind.

In early August, Bromberg replied by e-mail to Zammuto’s letter. In summation, she wrote: …what you are doing… is not only unfair, but I believe illegal. I would much rather work with you than fight against you but you must not try to prevent me from making a living without being discriminated against for my gender and/or talent… I will wait to hear from you.

Suffice it to say Zammuto did not respond. It has been over THREE months now and Zammuto has essentially ignored the issue. What arrogance.

I can’t figure it out.

Arachnid is no fly-by-night operation. They’re solid. From their facility in Loves Park, Illinois, they specialize in the manufacture of coin operated darts machines. They’re good at it — good enough to provide steady employment to fifty people and gross over $8.3 million in sales last year.

Since 1997, the president and sole stockholder of the company has been a Rockford, Illinois businessman named John R. Martin. He has an interest in several other businesses that do everything from manufacture printing press equipment to design ships.

So, Martin’s a smart guy. Surely, he must realize that what Zammuto has done — even if some court, for some unimaginable reason, were to find it entirely okay — is not good for business. Or maybe Zammuto hasn’t told Martin about his unconventional plan to win friends, influence the minds of soft-tip darting enthusiasts, and sell bunches of machines.

Before I go further, let’s get something straight. Arachnid isn’t about darts. No way, Jose.

Arachnid’s about selling coin operated darts machines. Martin didn’t buy the company because he’s been throwing darts since he was a teenager and loves the sport, although he might. No, Martin’s in business to make money. He makes money building and selling coin operated darts machines. The leagues around the country and world, the BullShooter circuit, and BullShooter Magazine are, first and foremost, cogs in the Arachnid marketing plan to sell Black Widow, Galaxy and Galaxy II machines.

I’m not suggesting that this marketing plan is bad for the sport. Anything that gets people out to throw is good for the sport. I’m just saying, let’s not be hoodwinked. BullShooter exists so a handful of businessmen can live in big houses and drive fancy cars. Darts is nothing but a means to that end.

Part of the BullShooter concept is to “equalize competition” as much as possible. Although I have no interest in competing under the concept, I understand it’s value in attracting new blood to the sport. Underpinning BullShooter’s desire for parity are bits of special information and rules that allow them to “evaluate entries” into their tournaments based on their “knowledge of past tournament performance” of darters. But much of this is gobblygook. ANY rule, in any sport, that prohibits a woman from competing against other women and forces her to compete against men, is WRONG.

One of the BullShooter rules mandates that a player who has been listed in the Top 50 steel-tip ratings by either Bulls’ Eye News, the PDC or ADO (or who is a “known pro,” whatever that means) is a professional and may not, for the three years following such designation, compete in anything but the BullShooter professional category. For women, there is no professional category. The only possible result is that they be forced to compete against men. This is patently unfair and discriminatory.

But it gets worse.

Bromberg and Cunningham were so designated because they (and I quote Zummato) finished in 7th – 8th place in Open Doubles Cricket at BullShooter XIX. This is curious.

For example, two years ago, Paula Murphy (who has a very female-like sounding name to me) finished 5th in Open Doubles Cricket — the exact same event that got Bromberg and Cunningham booted from playing against other women. Murphy did not have her gender taken away. Zammuto doesn’t apply the rules equally. That is discrimination.

Bromberg has been rated in the Top 50 of damn near everything for the past decade but, despite the existence of BullShooter “rules,” never, not even now, have the rules been used to ban her from competing against the female species. It just makes no sense. Zammuto’s decisions are arbitrary, based on nothing but whim. The result can be discriminatory.

Numerous other women, who have been or are ranked on the lists identified by BullShooter, have not been sent letters informing them that they are now men. BullShooter has not applied its “rules” uniformly. That is discrimination.

Decisions have been made that are wrong. Where such actions can be taken once or twice, they can be taken again.

This sort of thing does not belong in our sport.

This sort of thing does not belong in our world!

My goodness, if something isn’t done, and soon, the day might not be far away that all women athletes may have to compete without their shirts! So, please disregard everything I’ve written.

No. No! That’s a joke. Sorry.

Efforts to have the wrongs corrected, so far, have been dismissed.

That’s why I am asking you to CALL SAMUEL N. ZAMMUTO TODAY at 800-435-8319 (or 815-654-0212, if you live outside of the United States) and give him a piece of your mind.

That’s what you’d do if such an injustice was done to Phil Taylor, John Kuczynski, Darin Young, Paul Lim, and Bruce Cottrell — or any of the men.

Calling Zummato is the only right thing to do. Make him stop!

And if doesn’t listen tell him you’ll take a set of “calipers” to his willy.

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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