I never thought I would have to write this. Of course it is a sport. The very fact that some people think a debate exists is an insult to any right thinking human being, any right thinking darts fans. But it seems we have a time to go before, in the immortal words of Martin Luther King Jr, “We as a People will get to the Promised Land.”

“Darts comes second in the BBC Spoty voting get a grip,” Tweeted Golfer Ian Poulter on December 19 2010 after Phil Taylor’s historic runner up prize in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year contest, “BBC Spoty farce, sorry how could Graeme McDowell or Lee Westwood not win. GMac wins a major. Westy world no 1. That’s *****”

Ian Poulter is normally a likable Chap; I admire any sportsman who can ply his trade wearing trousers. Golf, Darts, and Snooker are the greatest sports on earth as a consequence; it is rather undignified for grown men to be running around in shorts. So Ian Poulter should know better, but on twitter he is just the General of an army of the ignorant.

I obsessively tweet about the great sport of darts, and one of the handy things about twitter is you can observe the world daydreaming on any particular subject. Search for #darts and you are greeted with the stream of consciousness opinions of a planet on the sport you love. Recently watching the undigested views of the masses flicker past my eyes, I realised many people didn’t know the debate was over.

“Darts is not a sport in my eyes!” This is the profound view of @Sketchdesignsuk.

“Can’t stand how darts players say its a sport. Sit back down. There’s nothing physically exerting about playing darts.” @krishaan_patel is an original thinker.

“ ‘Sports’ that fat people enjoy: darts, bowling, maybe chess.” Notice the inverted commas over ‘Sport,’ @3ali_joon is obviously a purist.

“If you smoke cigarettes & drink beer while you are doing it, it’s not a sport. Pool, Darts & Poker aren’t sports either.” Thanks @MetallicMuscle you are clearly as smart as you are brawny. These are random tweets only selected from the last few days. Every day or so I am confronted by internet geniuses witheringly denigrating the sport I love.

No more.

All of that is preface to an attempt at a rebuttal to the lazy and thoughtless opinion that a sport that many people love is fit only for mockery and derision. On this site I am preaching to the choir, but hopefully I can offer a few handy arguments to darts fans next time they are confronted with the boring exclamation, “Darts is not a sport!” The debate is over but unfortunately many people do not know it. Do not be afraid to confront the ignorant, with words of course, not fists. We’re not hooligans.

“The game has its roots in archery.  Indeed, glance back to the earliest type of dartboards and you will see that these were concentric targets – miniature forms of the archery target.  Moreover, darts is most commonly known as ‘arrows.’ Some would say that these two points alone are sufficient to confirm our sports heritage.” This is the view of the world’s leading darts historian Patrick Chaplin PHD.

One of the highlights of the 2012 London Olympics, OK for me anyway, will be the Archery held at Lord’s Cricket Ground. It is the closest thing to darts in the entire competition, coupled with a fantastic setting; it should be a treat for sports fans. But the idea that Archery is a sport, and of course it is; it’s in the Olympics, if we start saying Olympic Sports are not sports then no words really have a definition and the whole system of human communication breaks down. If it is in the Olympics it is a sport. But the idea that Archery is a sport and darts isn’t is demonstrably ridiculous; it is like saying the progenitor of Cricket: Rounders is a sport, and Cricket is not. Rounders is fine for kids but its progeny Cricket is perhaps the most complex and sophisticated sport on Earth. Sports evolve. Rounders became Cricket, Archery became Darts. In both cases it is a linear progression towards a more sophisticated sport.

In the 14th century Archery was such an important component of the defence of the realm it was compulsory for men between 7 and 60. Sounds like Reece Robinson and Dennis Priestley. Darts is in our DNA. Cricket is considered the quintessentially English sport, and like darts its roots go back to medieval times, but unlike darts it was never life and death.

Steve Healey a professor of Astrophysics at Stanford University has come up with what he calls, “The Rigorous Definition of a Sport.” I know it’s long but have a look through this list. There is nothing that cannot be applied to darts.

“A sport is any activity in which all of the following take place:

An individual playing session is held between exactly two opposing players or teams.

The successful completion of a playing session results in a win for one player or team and a loss for the other or a tie between the two players or teams.

An integer score is assigned to each team corresponding directly to the number of times certain predetermined actions are performed by that team. The only judgment by any official regarding the score is whether these actions were performed. The winner of the playing session is determined by the final score.

The players regularly engage in rapid, self-propelled locomotion. Examples include, but are not limited to, running, skating, and swimming.

The duration of the game is limited either by time or by the completion of a preselected number of play units, the scope of which is determined by the completion of certain events during play.

The objective of the activity does not at any time directly involve physically harming an opponent.

The status of a solid inanimate object, movable by the force of one player, is of central importance when play is active. Furthermore, when play is active, the object is not physically attached to any player; and it is not rendered motionless, held, or contained by any one player for an extended period of time.

No live animals, other than humans, are used.”

The no animals part is a shame, I’ve often thought darts would be improved if the player’s arrows were retrieved by chimps. Maybe a little trampoline for the monkeys. This list has been written with the scientific rigour of a Stanford Physics Professor. If darts can meet these criteria, it is a sport.

There is also the small matter that by June of 2005 Darts was, “Unanimously recognised by all the sports councils in the UK as a bona-fide sport,” BDO. If Sport England, Sport Wales, Sport Northern Ireland and Sport Scotland say your activity is a sport in this country, then it is one.

It is preposterous to quote the great civil rights leader in this context, but remember your arguments when confronted by the lazy intellects of the “How can it be a sport if fat guys play it,” brigade. The debate is over, but unfortunately many people cling to lazy assumptions. Martin Luther King was right. “We’ve got some difficlult days ahead, but it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop… I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight, that we as a people will get to the Promised Land.”

You can read more about Darts from Lenny Boyle at Tectonic Tungsten.

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