Column #180 When You Throw Mud You Lose Ground
April 1, 2005
When You Throw Mud You Lose Ground
“Man and his deeds are two distinct things. Whereas a good deed should call forth approbation, and a wicked deed disapprobation, the doer of the deed, whether good or wicked always deserves respect or pity as the case may be.”
– Mohandas Gandhi
This column will be short. Sadly, the old Gandhi quotation above pretty much sums up the point I am compelled to make. More eloquently and precisely than any words I have in my vocabulary, it captures the most basic difference today between the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and the British Darts Organization (BDO).
It should lead some of us to action.
The leadership of the PDC is moving forward and promoting all that is positive about the sport of darts. They have the ability and the heart to pause when times demand it, look beyond the oche, and take action that benefits humankind. The leadership of the BDO is stagnant, essentially moribund, and, worst of all, jealous. And jealousy is wicked.
The PDC deserves our respect. The BDO deserves our pity.
On Boxing Day, as the World Championships were just getting under way at Circus Tavern in Purfleet and, ironically, at about the same time giant tsunami waves were wiping out a quarter of a million lives in a world far away, the PDC immediately sprung into action, joining the rest of the humanitarian world to raise funds to help fund first response relief efforts.
By the tournament’s close, the equivalent of nearly $25,000 was raised and on its way to South Asia. Finalists Phil Taylor and Mark Dudbridge donated the shirts off of their backs and their darts for a fundraising auction. Someone bid $1,500 for the dartboard they played on. Someone else, probably a deranged human being, but a humanitarian nonetheless, paid $150 to go to dinner with Russ Bray. Ladbrokes, as a company, donated $250,000.
At the same time this was happening the BDO’s Robert Holmes issued the following press release. I quote it below, verbatim, from the BDO web site.
BDO DISASSOCIATES ITSELF WITH VIOLENT BEHAVIOR
“The British Darts Organization wishes to disassociate itself with the unseemly and unsporting behaviour of Phil Taylor and Kevin Painter in the PDC Championship at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet on Saturday evening.”
“The two players had a violent confrontation in front of the audience and TV cameras, and apparently it took several bouncers to separate them in what has been described as one of the most unprofessional incidents seen in televised sport.”
“¢Unfortunately, it comes at a time when the BDO is applying for darts to be recognized as a bona-fide sport by UK Sport, and it does nothing to enhance the image of our game,’ says a BDO spokesman.”
“¢Thankfully, the current BDO World Professional Darts Championships being played at Lakeside Country Club, Frimley Green, is reflecting all of the positive aspects of our sport– which is why we must make it absolutely clear that we disassociate ourselves from the unacceptable behaviour of the players at the Circus Tavern, Purfleet.’”
The last thing I’m going to do is get into just exactly what happened between Taylor and Painter. It doesn’t matter. I’ve spoken with enough people who were there to know that the so-called “violent confrontation” was hardly as suggested. Here’s what didn’t happen.
No one bit off anybody’s ear, as Mike Tyson once did to Evander Holyfield. Neither took a tire iron to the other’s knee, as Tanya Harding once arranged to have done to her nemesis, Nancy Kerrigan. Fans didn’t pour onto the stage with baseball bats and beat the hell out of everything in sight as sometimes happens in football.
Darts is a competitive sport. It’s emotional. Taylor and Painter exchanged some words. Big frickin’ deal. When Eric Bristow and Alan Evans played for the BDO years ago, this sort of thing happened all the time. The BDO never issued a press release for the entire world to read.
The BDO didn’t issue a press release a few months ago when their “world champion” quit in the middle of a grudge match with the PDC’s Taylor.
I ask you: what’s more “unseemly and unsporting behaviour” than that, regardless of the cause? Real athletes never quit. After his fight with Joe Frasier in the Thrilla in Manila, Muhammad Ali described the experience as the “closest thing to death.” But he didn’t quit. Football players play entire games with broken wrists and ankles. Kerrigan still competed in the Olympics with her smashed up knee.
The BDO had no need to “disassociate” itself with anything that took place at the PDC World Championships. Holmes’ press release was unnecessary and political. It was a cheap shot, issued to cast dispersion. Nothing more. Nothing less.
The BDO’s jealous action, taken at the same time that the PDC was in the midst of an admirable effort to aid helpless people on the other side of the world, only highlights the intensity of the BDO’s envy of all that the PDC has accomplished.
It underscores the essential differences between the leadership of the two organizations. The PDC is the future. The BDO is the past. It is the BDO’s action that is “unseemly and unsporting.” It is the BDO’s action that “does nothing to enhance the image of our game.”
They should be ashamed.
This all reminds me of another of Gandhi’s admonishments.
“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil. A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.”
Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not calling the BDO evil. I truly mean no disrespect to Andy Fordham. He’s working hard to get into respectable physical condition. He does more than his fair share for charity. He’s a nice guy.
But there is a message in Gandhi’s words.
To those players in the BDO who are contemplating a switch to the PDC I hope the message is clear.
It’s time to get out of the mud and move forward.
From the Field,
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