Column #HR159 The Old Dart Coach is Interviewed!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Column HR159
The Old Dart Coach is Interviewed!

Recently, the Old Dart Coach made a special appearance on a Toronto darts chat show. The one-hour radio program was dual language with questions asked in English, answered, then translated into Chinese.  This is the same ODC who has “the face for radio and the voice for silent movies.” The questioner, Peter Scott, is a well-known and talented dart player from Toronto. He’s known on both sides of the border as a no-nonsense dart player as well as a former no-nonsense policeman.

The question may arise as to what was the ODC doing on a show partially in Chinese. Did he have street cred? Yep.  He’s a regular diner on authentic Chinese cuisine at Panda Express where he’s served by Jose, Maria, Juan and Won. Won’s the token hire. Thanks to the interpreter the ODC made more sense in Chinese.

The ODC and Mr. Scott have two different views of the future of steel point vs. the machine game. The ODC thinks that for financial and other reasons the machine game will continue to bury steel darts here in North America.  Mr. Scott takes an opposing view.

“I don’t believe that’s true. Dart players want a challenge.”

Thereby reinforcing one of the facts about the steel game, “It’s difficult. It’s difficult to play average and damn near impossible to play great.”

Many of American top players view challenge as an anathema.  Their emphasis is on making a living, sort of, playing darts. The highway to Brokesville, USA, is littered with the carcasses of American “professional” dart players.  Even with sponsorships it’s nearly impossible to be a true fulltime professional dart player in America.

One idea floated by many top players is that “more money in tournaments will bring more players.” Wishful thinking.  Golf today has more money at the professional level than ever before. At the recently concluded Northern Trust Open the winner, Bubba Watson, collected $1,224,000 while the 76th player got a check for $12,902. Yet golf in America has its lowest participation rate in years.  Golf courses – venues – are closing left, right and center. Why? It’s hard to play, time consuming and expensive. Take out expensive and you have darts.

More money would attract top machine players, not the “once a week” casual league player tournaments need. Tournaments need bodies, not top players. When machine players do enter steel tournaments and win the steel players throw a hissy fit – as occurred when Benny Dersch recently won both singles at the Las Vegas Open.

Casual steel players know they have the same chance as a snow ball in hell against “top notch professional players.” That’s especially true with some tournaments using “officially seeding” while others do it with a “wink and a nod.”

The old canard (young canards are hard to find) that “maybe the top guys will play each other early so you may be able to win something” is dead. Then there’s the “you have to play the best to get better” – this is deader than Kelsey’s reproductive organ. The only thing you learn from losing is losing.  The “pro’s” have simply forgotten that the casual league player is a lot smarter today then “back in the day.”  He knows not to draw four cards when you’re looking at a pat hand across the table.

One suggestion to improve the play of North American’s is for tournaments to toss cricket in the “junkyard of forgotten favorites.” Add  301 singles and 501 doubles, with double start and finish. Cricket was a crutch used by tournaments when entries diminished. Rather than reducing prize money they added cricket events “where you don’t have to hit a double.” No, you have to hit trebles and lots of them.

The ODC was questioned by Mr. Scott on the (ODC’s) assertion that Phil Taylor was toast – to never again beat van Gerwen in a “meaningful” dart event. Most great players reach the point when something happens. In darts it’s called the “yips.” The ODC theorizes that when Taylor missed seven at a double against van Gerwen the mental yips arrived, found a home, and settled in for a long stay.

The real pro’s, PDC players, may well be yelling, “Okay already, enough of a challenge” to van Gerwen. This harkens back in the day of  Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s 1974 hit “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet.”  “Marvelous” Michael van Gerwen is going thru the best players in the world like a dose of salts thru a seagull.

Recently van Gerwen won the Dutch Masters for the third time adding £25,000 ($34,980) to his bank account. Van Gerwen got to the finals with a 170-check against Mervyn King. The final was a 6-2 in over Northern Ireland’s  Daryl Gurney with an average of 112.26

With the UK Open scheduled for March 4-6, van Gerwen made the qualifiers his private playground winning three of the six events  worth a tidy £37,750 ($53,094). In two of the qualifiers he went thru Phil Taylor (6-3, 6-2).

The ODC and Peter Scott did agree that with strong and innovative International and national governing bodies steel darts may have a real impact in non-PDC countries. They agreed that Canada and America should engage in a Can-Am home series between the two North American countries. The ODC calls for both countries to bail out of World Cups and concentrate on cross border rivalry.

It should be kept in mind that both countries are governed by organizations whose main task is to look out for the league player, not to provide an income for those who wish to be professionals.

Mr. Scott’s parting question was “Why do you end the column with ‘Stay Thirsty my Friends’?”

“I’ve found that dart is more fun with a goodly mixture of ‘aiming fluid’ and group tighter.’ It’s part of the social fabric of the game.”

Mr. Scott opined that there is less drinking now than ever, pointing to higher averages and better play as a result. The ODC may take this point under advisement – that “less drinking” may be another reason for the demise of steel darts.

One dart whit posted the following on Facebook: “My friend died in a bowel of  muesli. A strong ‘current’ pulled him in and carried him away.”

There’s also statistical proof that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than men that mention it.

From darter extraordinaire Stacy Bromberg: “I had a goldfish that could break dance on the carpet but only for about 15 seconds. And only once.”

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.