These days, it’s hard not to see a TV sitcom or ad without eventually seeing a dartboard hanging somewhere. But no longer is darts just something that hangs on the back of a closet or bedroom door, a corner of the basement or garage gathering dust or played with your buddies on a Sunday afternoon during half-time. Darts has become much more than that.
Today, tens of thousands of people in the US regularly play on dart leagues each week for either soft-tip, steel-tip and, for the diehard…both! A few of the television networks have begun showing dart tournaments on their channels. Granted, now it’s just used as filler at some odd hour, but you know you still stop to watch the same dart matches from years ago. Not asking for a circus atmosphere, but interest will only increase if darts can gain a following. Some sort of televised event would be nice, but even a jump in interest because of an “outside the lines” influence would help.
At one point, darts was being mentioned as an exhibition sport at the 2008 Olympics in China so it could be a full-fledged competition at the following Summer Olympics in the UK. This would have brought the world of darts to millions of people who have only thrown darts at a carnival balloon. Alas, it didn’t happen. There are now leagues (TOC) and circuits (CDC) in both soft and steel tip arenas are including televised programming or streaming video during the tournaments. And the ability to play darts over a computer, tablet or smart phone with other darters from around the world through an app or internet is a huge step in growing the sport. Now you can compete against novice or pro competitors beyond our US boundaries without ever leaving your front room. All of these efforts can only help promote the game we love AND increase participation in a host of new people.
But darts isn’t “just a game”. Today darts is being recognized by educators around the world as a fun and effective learning tool for teaching math skills, critical thinking and solution processing. Any adult who has played steel tip darts for any length of time can tell you that their math skills improved as they continued playing darts. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division (at least by 2) are extensively used for scoring in the ‘01’ dart games. I’ve seen newbies in league that need an app to do the math when they start. A season or two later, they are doing it without assistance. Without realizing it, suddenly they know that trip 19=57, dbl 18=36, etc. The same is true for the kids. In the classroom, it’s all brain powered. No electronic scoreboard to do the scoring for you. Strategy comes heavily into play in other games. In addition to these obvious advantages, darts also helps with leadership, hand-eye coordination, self-confidence, good sportsmanship and social skills. Many nations outside of the US already use darts in their regular school curriculum. In the US, even with supervision, schools take a dim view in allowing thrown objects to be used in the classroom, but at the very least, it should be encouraged as an engaging activity for after school programs. Although sadly not in the US yet, every day we see more youth leagues and dart academies springing up Asia and Europe. Each year, American youth go head to head with trips to compete in the world tournaments going to the winner. There they socially and competitively meet and make friends with youngsters from all over the world.
An increasing number of military and private rehab and assisted living centers are finding that it can be an effective and fun way to re-build hand-eye coordination, mental alertness, physical rehabilitation and social interaction. Those who can’t hold a dart can use a blowgun with soft darts to participate and regain their confidence.
Above all, darts is a social activity…a sport that starts and ends with a handshake. There is no specific demographic. You can be young, old, male, female, healthy or not and still play. Darts is a common interest that surpasses any physical or language barrier.
So before you hit your companion on the arm and holler “dartboard” when you see one in a TV sitcom or ad, remember…there are much more worthy aspects to darts.
Happy Darting!Return To All News & Events
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