Column #HR267 Earthquakes, darts and Brits – Par Deux

Tuesday, July 24, 2019
Column HR267
Earthquakes, darts and Brits – Par Deux

Senior Russ Lopez best characterized the US Dart Masters (aka World Series of Darts) as a “Darting Family Reunion.” He was spot on.  The Old Dart Coach and others enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones while spinning tales, real and imagined, of the “Golden Age” of North American Darts. Fellow darters like most families, share an unspoken bond.

As every Norte Americano realizes we owe a debt of gratitude to our friends from the British Isles for introducing us to the game darts. We gave them tobacco, so they owed us one.  Darts is much more than sport – it’s a lifestyle, a culture with an invisible cord that that binds us together into a closed tight-knit fraternity.  It has its own language albeit no secret handshakes.  For that we will be eternally grateful. The Brits gave us a language which we improved on. They gave us darts, its culture and a lifestyle that will forever be part of us.

When interviewing PDC officials it was clear that they value the North American market and the 364,279,000 TV viewers in the USA and Canada. One official bet the ODC that within 10 years North America will have a player competing successfully on the PDC circuit.  Pretty safe bet for the Brit as in 10 years the ODC will be “pushing up daisies.” (The Englishman’s name is found in the will so someone can collect on the bet – a free beer is a free beer.)

While the Championship Darts Circuit does a good job of preparing players in terms of competition, they can’t do anything to move the UK and Europe geographically closer to the USA and Canada. Gary Mawson has, to this point, been the only North American to compete successfully on the PDC trail.

There can be no argument but that the PDC is by far the best run, most professional and richest organization in the history of darts.  We know it, they know it and sponsors know it.

But therein lies a problem.  The PDC has become in some ways “too full of itself.”

It’s completely understandable as they took lumps of coal and turned them into sparkling diamonds that would make DeBeers jealous.  They took a 1969 Škoda auto, dressed it up and then sold it as a Rolls Royce. (The Škoda is a Czech automobile that came to the USA in 1969 – by early 1970 parts started to fall off it like leaves in winter.)

What’s worked in the UK and Europe isn’t going to work in North America.

Both Canada and the USA have proud darting heritages. Both nations have made immense contributions to the sport. We are not countries that see PDC players as Gods or rock stars. We see them as fellow darters and have respect for their abilities.

This is not to imply that the PDC players or officials act aloof or snobbish. Nothing could be further from the truth. They, as is their custom, are polite, respectful and willing to spend time with the paying customers.

Therefore, it was a complete surprise when on July 4, 2019, as the PDC took the stage at the Mandalay Bay there was nary a mention that the USA was celebrating its 243rd birthday as a nation.

It’s understandable that some in the UK are still a little PO’d that a bunch of Colonists dressed up as Indians (feather, not dot) and climbed aboard their ship to dump tea into Boston Harbor.  Heck, we’re the ones that ought to have the “RA” as it took us 240 years to get the pollution out of the harbor.

There can be no doubt that the decision not to mention the 4th of July, the USA’s national holiday, came from “on high.” It was the epitome of rudeness and self-indulgence.

If this snub was isolated, noted only by the ODC, it might well be ignored.  But it was mentioned by many in the hall that day.

As the PDC’s visits have now reached three years running one fact is clear: The North American audience has declined attend since the very first year. Why?

There may be multiple reasons (and solutions) as there usually are to any marketing conundrum.

The PDC must come to appreciate that holding an event on our national holiday is a bad idea. July 4th is a time for friends and family to gather, cookouts, fireworks and celebration. Commitments are made years in advance of the holiday. While the Mandalay Bay is a beautiful resort/casino on the Vegas Strip it’s way too expensive for the average darter (many booked at less expensive venues). With fans spread across Las Vegas get togethers are nearly nonexistent. And that is or is presumed to be a large part of the allure of the PDC visit.

No one asked but complaining without providing a possible solution is for critics. It’s like the line from the Rod Stewart song that goes, “Some guys do nothing but complain.”  So here goes.

Schedule the event so that it doesn’t encompass the 4th of July. Find an off-strip venue where the darters will feel welcome. That was the magic of the old North American darters took over the Sahara. It was theirs.

Take a look at the Orleans, the South Point, the Rio as all have the space, affordable rooms and would welcome the PDC with open arms. All would hang out the welcome mat for darters.  It would truly become what Senior Lopez calls “a family darting reunion.”

Those who watch PDC events on TV (streaming) have opinions on the commentators.  And if there’s one thing the ODC has in spades it’s opinions. As Robert Half said, “Free advice is worth the price.” That’s what the ODC gives.

Most of the commentators are good and getting better. Then there’s Paul Nicholson. He’s not good but he’s not nearly as bad as those that rag on him.

One wrote of Nicholson recently, “He told us how the Pittsburg Steelers was ‘his team’ – after all, everyone knows that a Geordie who thinks he is an Aussie has to have some affiliation with an ice hockey team from the USA.”

Slight correction: the Steelers are a football team. If you’re going to rag on someone your facts should be close to correct.

Stay thirsty my friends.

The following two tabs change content below.
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.