Column #HR269 What color unicorn would you like?

Thursday, August 15, 2019
Column HR269
What color unicorn would you like?

A few weeks ago, the Old Dart Coach received an email. The communication arrived shortly after the ODC made remarks critical of “dart commentator” Paul Nicholson.

“I have concluded we are alike. I only said he was a monotone commentator – didn’t say he was bad at commentary. In short, boring delivery. Now, you have summed it up – he also fabricates.”

The writer is spot on.  A monotonous voice is an obstacle that can be overcome (much like the man carrying the cello found while walking the streets London looking for Royal Albert Hall). He stopped a gentleman, who strangely enough spoke English, and asked, “How do I get to Royal Albert Hall?  “Practice, practice, practice,” came the reply.

The writer continued, “I believe it’s jobs for mates and who they can get for the least number of pennies.” The ODC would add it’s also a place for former players of some note or no note.  It’s all part of the “you must have done it to comment on it” media culture.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: The ODC did the first ESPN dart telecast. It was the Lucky Lights Challenge of Champions match between John Lowe and Leighton Rees.  The event was broadcast from Resorts International in Atlantic City. Working with the ODC was an ESPN newcomer named Chris Berman. Lowe would win the match. During the telecast Berman noted that if you used Rees’s hometown of Ynysybwl (Wales) in scrabble you could score maximum points.  After the telecast it was decided that the ODC had a voice for sky writing and a face for radio which led to a pause in his broadcasting career. He did appear on TNT (Canadian Sports Network) and briefly on Malaysian TV. His resume is available upon request, shipping not included.)

Then came a challenge to the ODC, “If you do decide one day to do a “best of the commentators column” it would make good reading.”  

After long consideration the ODC must decline the challenge because it would be unable for him to be objective.  No one is purely objective about sports commentators. Everyone has an opinion. It’s vindaloo vs. madras or Earl Grey vs. Colombian Fresh Roast. No one is neutral. All are prejudiced.

The ODC agrees 100% (which is about perfect) that knowing the players, their darting tendencies, their favorite approach to a double is important although it doesn’t take a Euclidean scholar to learn those tendencies or read a three-dart out cheat sheet.  The one ingredient all good commentators must have is an outgoing personality.  Electronic media doesn’t allow a person to fake personality. You’ve ether got it, or you don’t.

He late Sid Waddell was the best because he was Sid Waddell. The late Eric Bristow was good because he was Eric Bristow. Wayne Mardle is good because he’s Wayne Mardle. John Part is good because he’s John Part. All had or have personality and are or were interesting while apparently having fun. All have or had opinions (perhaps wrong at times) which they are or were happy to share. The only human who was never wrong got nailed to a cross.

The current PDC dartboard is under considerable attack for “bounce out darts” and, on occasion, for taking on the appearance of a “cheese ball” at a cheese ball-tostado party.

In a just released study of 602,897 darts thrown only 2,080 were rejected by the current board.  The first dart is unlikely to be rejected while the second dart has 6 times more chance and the third 12 times more often.  This study will provide little solace to the darter who loses a match when his or her dart is rejected.

As one connected to the PDC said in a recent interview, “The appearance of the dartboard provides bad optics.”  With that as a basis the person also guessed that sometime in the near future “barbed points” will not be allowed – much in the same way that golf outlawed the belly putter.  For any dart board manufacturer “optics” will overcome all studies.

PDC head honcho Barry Hearn recently announced a major TV contract for North America.  The contract mentioned is DAZN European streaming service. For North America, at a cost of $99.99 per year, it provides a variety of sports that have generally little fan interest or are not available via regular television transmissions. DAZN will now feature darts in North America which are currently covered by PDC streaming.  You must have a smart TV which poses a problem for the ODC. He has a smart TV but a dumb operator.

The PDC marriage with DAZN should come as no surprise.  Barry Hearn’s son, Eddie, runs Matchroom Sports which signed with DAZN when he had heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua. Since then, Joshua got his clocked cleaned by Andy Ruiz and DAZN has had little or no effect on North American TV.

There’s a dumpster fire that broke out in the PDC and still burns brightly.  It broke out early this summer when top players, to put it politely, started falling on their collective fannies. Peter Wright and Rob Cross do not fit in this category.

The fire continued Down Under in Brisbane when former world #1 and two-time world champion Gary Anderson went out to 32-year old local Damon Heta 8-6 while missing a total of 24 darts at a double.

In the same quarter finals Michael van Gerwen got set packing by Daryl Gurney 8-5.  Aussie Damon Heta, celebrating his 32nd birthday, is the top-ranked player in the DPA, whatever that is. His win in the final over Rob Cross 8-7 was the first time an Aussie had made a World Series final since 2017. That year it was locals Kyle Anderson and Corey Cadby in the Auckland Darts Masters.

A well-known lady darter (LD) posted her conversation with the Tungsten Dart God (TGD) recently…

LD: “I want a unicorn.”

TDG: “Impossible.”

LD: “I want a boyfriend.”

TDG: “What color unicorn would you like?”

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.