Column #HR18 If you want to be a sport act like one!

Saturday, August 14, 2010
Column HR18
If you want to be a sport act like one!

Toeing the Oche has for the most part been positive on the Professional Darts Corporation. They, the PDC, have accomplished in fewer than 15 years what the sport couldn’t accomplish in the 500 years prior. A TV contract, the end of phony draws, real rankings and a new level of excellence from the oche… “So what’s the beef ?” With success sometimes those responsible for achievement feel empowered. In their own minds they become anointed as infallible and all-knowing. In the past the rulers of darts felt the same way. They accomplished almost nothing of substance and exasperated the situation by keeping out anyone with a differing view. That is always the danger.

While watching the World MatchPlay on TV it was surprising to hear a PDC official say “We are entertainers.” Then just a short time later Phil Taylor made his entrance for the finals wearing a “cheap cowboy hat with a string around the chin like a five-year-old would wear when getting his picture taken riding the donkey on a Tijuana street.” Two advertising theorems. First is KISS. “Keep It Simple Stupid”. The danger is making it too simple as to become stupid. No one ever succeeded catering to the lowest common dominator of the human race (although American politics seems to have bucked the trend recently). Second is “you don‘t need to sell the sizzle when the steak is good.”

Does Tiger Woods or Phil Micklson stride to the first tee in the final round of the British Open, called THE OPEN, in a funny hat and oversize glasses? Does Phil Taylor playing the clown set the tone of what is suppose to be the final of a “major” darts tournament? Maybe. Dart players are not entertainers. Robby Williams, Rod Stewart and Elton John are entertainers. Dart Players play darts. Let ’em. Is there anyone in power in the PDC who actually sat down and said “Boy we’ll get better TV ratings if Phil Taylor would only wear big funny glasses and a cowboy hat?” Does this draw in the causal sports fan? Probably not but you can bet your last dollar that some TV production guy thinks exactly that way. God love TV for the money they provide. Gosh darn ’em for messing with a sport trying to make it a circus.

If the PDC wants to sell dart players as entertainers then have them play in a mud pit or how about a steel cage match to the death. If you want to be a sport act like one. As the late Irene Maude Reed use to say, as of now it’s “Neither fish, foul nor good red herring”. That’s where professional darts is today. As Lucius Quinctins Cincinnatus (519 BC- 438 BC) said in one of his many speeches, “Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam!” What’s it mean? “And therefore I believe that Carthage must be destroyed.” That quote by Canto has as much relevance to darts as Taylor and his “stupid hat” or man hugs.

DOG DAYS OF SUMMER

Every sport, except footie, has its own “Dog Days.” That time of the year when there isn’t a heck of a lot going on as players “take a break.” For professional dart players this be it – the period from the conclusion of the European Championships until the Australian Players one day event on August 22. Then the action moves to the Land of Hockey Pucks for the Players Championship number #23 and the Canadian Masters, August 28-29. The latter has added importance for those players ranked in the North American Order of Merit. With £5,000 pounds going to the winner of each event a win by a Norte’ Americano – a little little Se Habla’ lingo tossed in to keep the government off our backs – will propel them to the top of the North American Order of Merit. Yea that’s one of those “if my Aunt had two more I’d have another Uncle” type deals. But even a second place finish worth £2,500 pounds would propel some towards the top of the ladder. Currently John Part is tops with £5,200. He leads Darin Young by £300 pounds with a log jam following with winnings under £2,000. Paul Lim leads that log jam with £1,900 won followed by Larry Butler (£1,775), Ken MacNeil (£1,725), Gary Mawson (£1,650) and Northern California’s Nico Depaynos at £1,225. This is the last of the PDC stops on the abbreviated North American calendar for 2010. The #1 spot in the North American Order of Merit will qualify for the Grand Slam in November, if not already qualified.

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE DARTS

The Old Dart Coach readily admits that he doesn’t completely understand the format for the Champions League Darts that kicks off September 9th. He does know that there’s £200,000 pounds up for grabs. It’s a “for bookmakers” tournament that’s streamed live on their Internet web sites with those qualifying coming from the ranks of the Order of Merit. One certainty is that when it’s completed on October 14th Phil Taylor will be richer, as he’s won the previous two of the three editions of the event. In 2008, Colin Osborne took the top spot.

There’s hope for the Old Guy though as he’s just learned that the Rubik’s Cube configuration can be solved in 20 moves. Heck it only took 35 years using computer time and the best brains from mathematics, engineering, Google and the finest universities to come up with this “God’s Number” from the 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 possible combinations. One would think that maybe the “best minds’ in the world had something better to do with their time…

Like what?

“Drink beer and play darts.”

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Howie Reed
The one and only Howie Reed (the Old Dart Coach) goes back decades with the legends of our sport - he knows where the skeletons are buried. Just ask any of the ADO and WDF old-timers! His widely popular column, Toeing the Oche, is a must-read.

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