It only takes two things to turn stupefying and tedious activities into mainstream bullshit: Sky Sports and a reasonable quota of idiots. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you………darts!
You have to take your hat off to Sky Sports. They have an uncanny ability to turn base shit into gold, seemingly at will. What they worked out early on was that the insanity of a considerable minority of people really was limitless; and also very profitable. After releasing a slow poison into more mainstream sports (football, rugby – both codes, cricket etc) those snake charmers at Sky turned to other activities with a view to, well, what exactly? Making money, of course, and where stupidity abounds, there is always plenty to be made.
Not so long ago, the only time you saw a dart board was either in the pub or hanging at the back of your garage, covered in half an inch of dust and some cobwebs. As to the latter, you hardly ever played it because you could never find the f**king darts that were supplied with the board anyway! One had dropped down a drain, another had been used as a makeshift DIY tool somewhere around the house (or had got irreparably bent while it was being used to clean the mud off your football boots) and the last was God-knows-where. So if you ever came across darts it was generally in the pub, where it was being played by fat, balding and basically loud, obnoxious types swilling cheap bitter. The only point to darts is the one located on the end opposite to the one with the feathers.
Enter Sky Sports. Within a few short years, they had turned this time-wasting, dull shit into a glitzy, hyped-up money-spinner. Take the idea of two people repeatedly throwing three small pointy objects at a round board with numbers on it until they reduce their ‘score’ from an initial 501 to 0 (and then do it over and over and over again until anyone with a functioning brain would willingly stab a dart into both eyes), give the protagonists some nicknames and a shiny shirt, give the audience a cheap piece of cardboard that says ‘180’ on it (to be held up inanely every time their particular ‘hero’ happens to throw three pointy things into the same piece of space a few inches below the number 20) and access to plenty of beer and, crucially, the opportunity to gamble on the pointless outcome and, hey! You have a sport worthy of giving several hours of satellite TV time to.
You can argue the toss all you like, but darts really is not a sport. It’s an opportunity to gamble on an outcome between two ‘players’ who have assumed nicknames that are so far removed from reality that you need a radar. Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor. Power? He looks like he’d be more at home as a low-level administrative assistant at your local council, where I suspect his nickname would be anything but ‘The Power’. He throws darts, for f**ks sake! He doesn’t bench press three times his bodyweight before punching a hole through a concrete wall! ‘Mighty’ Mike van Gerwen! Are you kidding me? Because he can do basic subtraction? I had more respect for the guy when he was sitting behind a drum kit on ‘Shooting Stars’. Obviously more money in darts.
And you know, you just know, that Sky and this excuse for a sport are really taking the Mighty Mickey when you see where these riveting tournaments are held. Anybody who wins the ‘Players Championship’ in Barnsley must really feel a wild sense of achievement. I have always thought exotic locations for major sporting events are overrated, anyway. And in any event, the cheque must make it all worthwhile.
What is obvious is that even the most stupid have a limited capacity to keep enjoying ‘the same old, same old’ and sooner or later are bound to demand more and more gimmicks to keep them interested. And here is where I have had one of my good ideas. As stomach churning as the thought may sound I suggest we reinvent darts. We get the players to play wearing only a loin cloth. And rather than use a board with numbers on it, how about the players stand, say, ten feet apart and throw darts at each other? And not just any old darts; we could tip the points with slow-release poison. Just to liven it up a bit more, we could stand these two intellectual giants in a sand pit into which poisonous snakes are dropped at regular intervals, and just as the players start to flag a bit. I am sure people would flood ‘Bet Fred’ with punts on which of the two would keel over first; doubtless considerations such as accuracy in throwing darts into main arteries, ability to outwit a few pissed off reptiles, and respective body mass would enter into consideration prior to that all-important bet being laid.
Until that day comes, I really am dart bored.