You may just be curious, or perhaps you have begun to take up the game yourself. It can be easy to see this as a common bar and pub game as more of a hobby or board game than a real sport at first glance. But is darts a sport?
Yes. Darts is a sport. England, United States, Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands, Germany, and Belgium have recognized darts as an official sport. Although it is possible to play as a hobby (as with most sports), darts requires players to be well-aimed and to compete at a high level.
Regardless of your personal opinions of darts as a sport, this is a question that deserves some looking at. Below I will outline all about the considerations of darts as a sport and its official recognition.
Understand we are talking mostly about steel tip darts here. While I do consider soft tip darts sport as well, it is still in its early stages without world organized play or televised games.
What Makes Darts a Sport?
Dictionary.com defines a sport as “an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess”.
To add to this, the Oxford Dictionary defines a sport as: “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or a team competes against another or others for entertainment”.
I would like to point out that, although the exertion may be lesser than many sports, it does require a physical prowess to be able to hit the target.
To add to that, the skill and prowess that is needed are done in competition against another individual.
By Skill Level:
I believe one of the main reasons people question the authenticity of darts as a sport is due to the simplicity.
Any average human can pick up a dart and toss it at the dartboard. At this level, it requires minimal physical exertion and you may even hit the board fairly frequently.
Anyone who has tried to play beyond this probably understands where I’m going; hitting a bullseye, or even your intended target, is much more difficult than it appears.
Standing just under 8 feet away from the dartboard, and tossing a dart, which to an untrained hand does not feel well balanced, it is quite an accomplishment to get the darts to stick to the board at first.
As time goes on you may have a better aim or even be able to get it to stick frequently. This constitutes growth and a skill level that must be developed through practice.
If you are really invested in darts, you may even be aware of the world championships surrounding the sport. Players at this level train and travel from all around to compete.
Competitions run for Europe, the U.S. and other individual countries. If you are a skilled player, you always have the ability to go up in darts, making it a much more competitive sport than at your local pub.
There are two mainstream professional darts organizations – the British Darts Organization (BDO) and the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC). For amateur organizations, the American Darts Organization (ADO) is the main one.
Having this type of system, and organization to which players belong is a hallmark of any professional sport. Darts definitely has the resources of a “real sport”.
Who Determines the Official Darts Rules?
While each organization has its own rule book, the basic outlines are the same.
The official rules for the PDC have been issued by the Darts Regulation Authority (DRA). This is a not-for-profit company in the United Kingdom, whose sole purpose is to provide, update, and regulate the rules of darts. The organization has, as recently as 2019, reviewed and updated the rule book to help improve the image and profile of the sport throughout.
The BDO has its own rule book which is split into 2 sections, Playing Rules and Tournament rules.
Where Can I Watch Darts On TV?
As with most sports, you can watch current and past games on TV and online. If you have seen darts on television – it has likely you have been watching a PDC match. This is the largest corporation surrounding darts, and this is where the highest darts performance is.
How you can watch televised darts in your country will vary. In general BDO darts will be found on BBC Sports and PDC is on Sky Sports.
If you are really looking to watch some darts I would start with this page on PDC.TV . It lists where you watch darts on TV in various countries around the world. Best of all, they have a subscription service so you can watch live games online through their site.
You can also watch plenty of old dart matches online for free on youtube. This option is great because you can pick the game you want to watch from a list of 1000’s. So if don’t care that you are not watching live darts and you want to see some tournament play, this would be the best place to start.
Where are these competitions held?
The PDC hosts world darts tournaments. Most of these take place in Europe, so if you live there you are likely able to get to a professional tournament.
The BDO hosts the world championships all over the globe, much like the Olympics.
How Many Types of Darts Games Are There?
When speaking strictly professionally, the main darts game we are speaking of is straight in 501 darts. You will very rarely see anything else being played on TV. However, there are a ton of different types of ways to play darts, some of the most common being:
Most people stick to the basics but the list of dart games you can play on a standard dartboard is huge.
Why Isn’t Darts In The Olympics?
Since darts is a sport, I absolutely believe darts should be on the Olympic stage. The community and competition are already fierce, and there are professional organizations to back them up.
The sport of darts is accepted in many of the largest countries of the world and is at least played as a game in most of the others. There is, however, one main issue with including darts in the Olympics.
The largest obstacle for Olympic status is the split between the PDC and the WDF. Since the World Darts Federation is the governing body, being in the Olympics would put it under their control.
However, today most of the top players in the sport are with the PDC – which would cause the Olympics to struggle in getting the best players approved by the PDC.
I hope to see this issue resolved in the future, as time goes on reconciliation would allow darts to be placed in the Olympics – bringing a new competition that more people are able to play to this great event. If you are curious, you can check out our full article about darts in the Olympics.
How Large Is The Dart Playing Community?
Darts has gained popularity quickly since it became a sport. First hitting television in the 1930s to a limited audience, by the ’70s most countries were recognizing official rules and organizations were forming around it.
The community stretches to most countries in the world, and the world championships with the PDC receive a large winning prize. The winner of the 2019 PDC won 500,000 Euros.
It is safe to say that the community and organizations surrounding the darts community are well-structured and here to stay. You will have no problem finding active and serious competition in this sport.
When Was Darts Officially Recognized As A Sport?
This depends on the governing body and who is recognizing the sport. The most prominent place to recognize darts as an official sport is probably Sport England, in 2005.
Although many countries see darts as a sport, individuals all over the world may be more resistant to this. This is likely due to the lack of physical exertion during the competition.
How Can I Begin Learning Darts?
The first step is to either get a darts set or two go somewhere that has one. The local pub can be a good location for this, but if you are serious about pursuing this, you should purchase a dartboard. If you are starting with nothing, this bundle comes with a dartboard and 2 sets of darts.
Try to find a local community or league near you, or create one if you can’t find something nearby. If you need help beginning I have created a free guide to get you started in darts.