Column #HR97 Wrasslin’ with the PDC (and an anaconda?)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Column HR97
Wrasslin’ with the PDC (and an anaconda?)

Ever try to explain the game of darts to a sightless person? It’s hard enough to explain the game, period.

Eons ago the ODC explained the game to Chris Berman on ESPN, “You start with something… when you have nothing left… you win. It’s an English thing.”

Another time, when chatting with his pal “The Blind Guy,” the ODC let it slip that he sometimes helped write a column on darts…

“Darts? How do you write about darts?” groaned the BG. “I remember seeing a board when I was young. On one side they played something called baseball and you had three outs.”

The ODC explained how the English board was different.

“HUH Baldy?”

It should be noted the BG’s wife had let it slip that the ODC was “follically-challenged.” Instantly the ODC became “Baldy.” That’s really very hurtful.

The ODC soldered on…

“The outer ring is worth two times the points, the inner ring three times the points, the outer bull is worth 25 points and the inner bull 50.”

“HUH?” Baldy title omitted.

The ODC forgot to mention the numbers around the board are worth from 1 to 20 and arranged in no apparent order.

“You start at 501, subtract points ’till you get to nothing but to get there you have to go out on a double.”

“HUH?”

Logical reaction. The ODC’s explanation was clear as Hillary Clinton’s on Benghazi.

“I take full responsibility.”

“What happened?”

“I don’t know. What differences does it make?”

At their next dinner the ODC will bring a dart board and a set of darts. So with the BBQ and beer – a lovely combination – there’ll be a little dart show and tell.

Just as difficult as explaining 501 to a blind person is mapping the highways and byways of the darts world – who does what to whom, when, how and why. The “why” is usually, power and ego.

The “who”?

There are the American Darts Organization (ADO), British Darts Organization (BDO), World Dart Federation (WDF), Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and hundreds of other fiefdoms around the world. With the exception of the PDC all the organizations are answerable only to themselves.

Members? “Let them eat cake.”

All have their own rules. Some offer points. The PDC? They offer’s money. The BDO and WDF both award points on a worldwide basis. Why a tournament in the USA or Canada would want to pay a sanctioning fee and then surcharge their players for useless WDF or BDO points – that mean “jack squat” – is a mystery. Oh yes forgot “power and ego.”

Until the PDC took off, the biggest tournament in the world was the Embassy World Professional run by the BDO. It involved the “best players” from around the world and the most prize money. “Best players” is in quotes here because in many instances the designation was an arbitrary one adjudged by King Oiley Croft of the BDO. Croft, like all dictators, eventually fell in a palace revolt – a coup d’état that sent shock waves through the dart world.

The event remains with a new name: The BDO Lakeside World Professional. The research staff at Toeing the Oche referred to the WDF’s “official calendar” to obtain the official name. At the bottom of the calendar is the disclaimer: “The WDF is not responsible for the accuracy or lack of information on the WDF Calendar of Events.”

Talk about a “Larry, Curly and Moe” operation.

The BDO now determines eligibility for the Lakeside based on “real” worldwide BDO points. The BDO decided that to be eligible for those points a player had to sign a statement that they would not accept an invite to the 2013-1014 PDC World Championships. Some of the better North American players whined as is their want. They wanted their “Kate and Edith too.” As PDC players found out those many years ago, “You’re either with us or a ‘gin us.”

Even discounting the invasion of machine darts – which knocked the steel game on its keister – the sport has changed. All sports change – they’re like a painting in progress, an ever changing landscape. Too often the resulting canvas resembles a finger painting by a three year old. Those less kind might describe the process as akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Drunk driving and higher costs changed the profile of American pubs. Machine darts stepped in to save the day with coin-drop revenue not there with steel darts. They also did what the ADO couldn’t or wouldn’t do by investing money in the sport. Novel thought that.

The PDC, working from that matrix, continues to provide new programs. Do they do this because they’re good guys? Maybe, but as businessman they know that a rising tide lifts all ships. The PDC uses television revenue to seed the landscape for harvesting later.

Their latest harvest adds to the PC farm in 2014 a Youth Tour and Challenge Tour. The “Ute” Tour will have a prize fund of £100,000 for their twenty events – which is £5,000 per event for those of you who went to public school. The “Ute” Tour is open to all players ages 16-21 which means there’ll be some pretty big “Ute” wandering about with pints hidden behind their school books.

Each year the PDC operates a Qualifying School (Q School) that allows everyday players to qualify for Tour Cards – a plan borrowed from the Professional Golf Association (PGA). In 2014, enter the PDC Unicorn Challenge Tour for those who played in the PDC Q School but didn’t earn tour cards. There’ll be £160,000 for the 15 events or £15,000 per event.

This year the PDC adds The Masters. Gee I thought the BDO hosted the Masters? Actually they do. Their event is called “The BDO Winmau World Masters.” Brits love one name events like The Open (golf) and The Championship (tennis).

With increased prize money and television presence comes additional scrutiny. That has become abundantly clear with the recent Phil Taylor cheating incident – an event swept under the carpet by the PDC. At least one former International great has not forgotten, “Regards to Taylor – he cheated, did nothing to correct it and should have been suspended (al la Tiger Woods ) – they both seem to think they are bigger than their sports! BS!”

Phil Taylor’s cheating will be covered during the ODC’s next dinner with the Blind Guy, probably while sipping a Hennessy and firing up a Montecristo.

The latest from the world’s second most interesting man? “I wrestled with the anaconda for three days. Then I looked down and realized I was masturbating.”

Stay thirsty my friends.

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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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