Column #HR214 Some advice for the new ADO president

Thursday, November 15
Column HR214
Some advice for the new ADO president

It can be reported with certainty that anyone who plays or has played darts has at one time or another been asked…

“You play darts? How many bulls can you throw?”

After one answers, the inevitable less-than-cute follow up question usually is…

“Seriously?”

The above statements (certainly the response) are generally delivered with an air of incredulity and a facial expression similar to that of someone who has just taken their first big shot of Jägermeister. To most people a dart player is accorded the same level of respect, no more or less, than someone that collects recipes for rutabagas.

This opinion of dart players applies whether one plays once a week at the lowest level or is a champion of some type. But there is hope. Help may be on the way. Yes, as Bob Dylan sang (so the Old Dart Coach is told)…

“The Times They Are a-changin’”

The credit for this possible change comes not, in America, from the American Darts Organization or, worldwide, from the World Dart Federation. Any change in the perception of dart players – by those that love to judge others (but not themselves) – will come from the unlikely coupling of machine darts and the PDC. Together, as an unintended consequence, they have given the public a new awareness of darts.

For those from outside of the sport and many inside, darts is not about Phil Taylor or Michael van Gerwen. There’s no debate that watching Michael van Gerwen throw darts is akin to watching the late Ted Williams hit a baseball or the “old” Tiger Woods play golf. For “casual” players, the PDC professional is at the extreme end of the spectrum. Their game is different. While it’s great to watch or hear of the exploits of the professionals there’s more to it for the casual player.

Michael van Gerwen recently pocketed £50,000 when he won the World Series of Darts final for the third time. Good for him but his win means little to the casual player. The victim this time out for the Marvelous One was former two-time world champion Gary Anderson, 11-6. A global event, the World Series of Darts saw van Gerwen winning in Shanghai and Las Vegas. Anderson’s two wins came in Dubai and Perth.

van Gerwen was van Gerwen on his way to the win when in the quarter-finals he not only dusted Rob Cross (10-4) but averaged 108.83. In the semifinals Daryl “The Poser” Gurney jumped to leads of 2-0 and 3-1 before falling 11-8.

When Gary Anderson misses double he loses.

DAH!

Mr. Oblivious strikes again.

In the opening leg of the final, Anderson missed 3 and van Gerwen erased 103 for a 1-0 lead that he would never relinquish (although Anderson leveled at 1 with a 12-darter). For anyone that’s keeping track, the win was number 38 of van Gerwen’s career and the 17th of the year. In the last fortnight, van Gerwen has added another £150,000. Not too Chablis.

The ODCs epiphany about darts along with its meaning to the casual player came from an unusual source. A few weeks ago, the ODC was watching the Breeders Cup – which for the uninitiated is the world championship of horse racing. This year’s event was held at Del Mar (California) “…where the surf meets the turf.” One of the events was the 5 furlongs Turf Sprint.  There are 8 furlongs to the mile. One trainer had two horses entered. Peter Miller who had grown up near Del Mar was a very successful trainer who told an interviewer before the race that “…winning a Breeders Cup on my home track would be unbelievable.” His two horses were Stormy Liberal (30-1) and Richard’s Boy (15-1)…

Both were long shots. Richard’s Boy was leading with less than 100 feet to go. Stormy Liberal, living up to this name, “stormed” to stick a nose in front as they reached the finish line.

The camera caught Peter Miller’s reaction as he went absolutely “chimp-like” bananas. He not only won a Breeders Cup race at his home track but ran one-two with the winner paying $62.40. Here was a trainer that had great success and made lots of money but was going absolutely ballistic with a win.

That’s when the bolt of lightning struck the ODC with a shock akin to a man catching his “whatever’s” in his zipper. To quote whack job Charlie Sheen, it’s “winning.” Or as the late Jim McKay would say each Saturday on the opening of ABC’s Wild World of Sports, it’s “the thrill of victory.”

While usually not as public with their celebration, that’s what awaits darts players each time they step to the oche – the opportunity for the thrill of victory. Dart players hear, “You’re playing the board.” That’s BS. You’re playing another person with the chance to prevail. It’s the individual pure pleasure that a darter enjoys.

Thanks to the PDC and machine darts more and more people are becoming aware worldwide and with the aid of TV the game and its players may actually gain their place of due respect in the world of sport. Darts is about much more than those that win tournaments or world championships – it’s about the “casual” player, the foundation of it all, who drinks the pure joy of competing whether as an individual or member of a team.

In the days and weeks to come it will be interesting to see how new ADO president, Tom Sawyer, chooses to govern.

Will he “drain the swamp,” open up the opportunity to run for office and vote to all the members and lead the organization in a new direction that serves all the players, not just the elites?

Will he eliminate programs that don’t work and employees that don’t perform and put the ADO on a sound and professional financial basis while advancing the sport in America, rather than allow it to continue to wallow, barely surviving, in the cesspool it now exists and which was created by its own hand?.

It’s always positive to provide constructive ideas about how to improve darts at the league level. The ODC would like to suggest that as Presidents Sawyer’s first order of business he encourage the ADO to pass the a Resolution that requires the following notice to be placed in every pub that hosts league darts…

MEN: No shirt, no shoes, no service.

WOMEN: No shirt, no shoes, free service, doubles partner available.*

*This rule does not apply to men that possess original factory equipment even if lip syncing Shania Twain’s Feel Like a Women on the music machine. Sorry Caitlyn.

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.