Column #326 The surprise and the shame

Monday, July 7, 2008
Column 326
The surprise and the shame

The surprise?

Well, probably you have heard by now that yesterday Phil Taylor smoked his way to the Desert Classic VII championship. You would have heard this from Dartoid’s World except for one thing and that thing is called Dan “Cujo” Lauby.

Dan and I roomed together during the tournament and he taught me the finer points of a few casino games. I didn’t listen to the finer points, even when gambling expert Paul Lim stopped by one of the tables we were at to offer some even finer finer points.

So I am hitchhiking my way home and currently plugged in at a truck stop in Oklahoma.

Okay. Okay. I’m lying. I do that sometimes…

The truth is I did room with Lauby, he did show me around and his advice paid off.

I hit a $5 slot for $350 and thanks to a deal of four aces and a $25 bonus wager picked up another $500 at Pai Gow. Had I held just one more ace (jokers are wild) I’d have pocketed $25,000 bucks and would be a happy man, despite the fact that all the North Americans crashed and burned at the tournament.

The real reason I’ve delayed this final report is I that I’ve been at a loss of words (and that doesn’t happen often) to describe just how AWESOME Taylor was this week.

In the first round he took out Kevin Painter 6-4 and averaged almost 109.

In the second round he ended Dennis Priestley’s run 8-4 and averaged 104.

In the quarter finals he dismantled Adrian Gray 11-4 and averaged 99.

In the semi-finals Taylor literally stomped Roland Scholten 11-2 and averaged 103.

And despite a short-lived Wade fight back Taylor blew “the Machine” out 13-7 in the final, averaging 105.

Really – what can one say?

What superlatives exist in our vocabulary to describe such a performance?

I know averages don’t tell the whole story but consider this: throughout the whole of this year’s Desert Classic stage play only twice did someone average more than Taylor’s worst performance.

Andy Hamilton averaged 100 during his easy-street first round match against Canada’s nervous Shawn Brenneman. And Kevin Painter hit the 103 mark when he faced Taylor.

That’s it. Period. Full stop.

This man, this self-made darts prodigy – like him or not – is extraordinary. Even the next best are far, far second best.

The SHAME is that so few Americans were in Vegas to see Taylor in action. This is the other reason I have found this last report so difficult to put on paper…

Although the hall was full for the first stage rounds even on those days the crowd was easily three-quarters British. Actual tournament entries were skewed by the same margin – roughly only fifty North Americans even paid to compete.

A few Americans remained to cheer Darin Young on as he nearly battled his way past Robert Thornton in the second round – and to their credit, a few others, like Marshall and Marilyn Popp and “the Infamous” Phil Fried, even made a special trip to Vegas just to catch the last few days of action.

It’s sad.

At various Internet darts forums many people, often from behind aliases, lament what is wrong with our sport, offer little sensible in the way of solutions and seem able to find a multitude of reasons not to venture out to participate in or at least observe the greatest darts spectacle yet to land on American soil.

“It’s expensive.”

“It runs through July 4.”

“The British are just SO good.”

True, all of it. But as excuses – BUNK.

Nothing is wrong with the sport of darts in this country that a little support from the most ardent of players and fans can’t help solve.

I have poked fun during this series at Kalamazoo, Michigan’s DARTFLIGHT (who I have inadvertently been calling TRIPFLOOR) and he and I certainly don’t agree on some things. Fair enough – but as so-called supporters of the game it just seems to me that sometimes we must agree to disagree and work together to advance what we care about – not do, as DARTFLIGHT has done, threaten to cancel his subscription to the only darts magazine in the country because of a disagreement about the magazine’s creative effort to attract a wider audience.

Then there’s CANNIBAL from Philadelphia, who I also ribbed a fair bit. We don’t see eye-to-eye on some things either. For example I DO see the not-so-distant day when darts will be seen frequently on American television. But I also wholeheartedly agree that “…people have to start thinking outside the box about growing darts as a serious sport in this country.”

There are other people like TRIPFLOOR (who I must profusely apologize to for wrongly taking the mickey this past week) and Chattanooga’s CATFISH who have respectively taken the lead and been working endless hours to develop a National Darts Regulation body and advance a professional singles circuit, both critical undertakings.

And there are so many others…

But there are also those of you who talk, complain, don’t show up and somehow think you are contributing to the future of the game by posting crap at Internet darts forums.

Well, you aren’t.

By tossing out ideas and doing nothing to see them through and by not attending events like the Desert Classic, as either a player or spectator, you are hardly representing the sport you claim to support.

One must really wonder what the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and the British television audience must think when the camera pans the Mandalay Bay arena and the American contingent can be counted on a couple of hands.

One must be truly be thankful that the PDC continues to bring this exceptional show to our country… that they continue to host Pro Tour events throughout North America, despite the lack of support from so many of this continent’s own darters.

Apparently the PDC believes more in the potential for the sport of darts in North America than many of those who live here profess to do. That’s the shame but at least it’s a fortunate one.

Congratulations to Phil Taylor, James Wade and everyone else who participated in this year’s Desert Classic.

What a show it was.

And how great it is for darts in North America.

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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