The game of darts is old.
In fact, the origins of darts were established over 700 years ago. Yet, for the grand majority of its history, it has been a game that has been outshined in popularity by much younger sports such as basketball, baseball, hockey, etc.
However, in the past few decades, the status quo has been changing. Darts is getting increased visibility in all levels of society and all ages. Why is darts so popular?
Darts is popular is because it is fun. Darts can be played by anyone, it is easy to set up, simple to learn, has a low cost to entry and is fun to watch, all adding to its popularity.
As a result, darts is now played professionally in arenas packed with thousands of spectators and hundreds of thousands more watching from home on live television. In the United States and Canada alone, far from the birthplace of darts, millions of people play the game every year. There is even a serious push to make darts an Olympic event!
So what is it about this humble pub game that has become so appealing to the masses?
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Easy To Learn, Hard To Master
There is a curious little aphorism attributed to Atari company founder Nola Bushnell. It is called Bushnell’s Law and it states that “All the best games are easy to learn and difficult to master.”
I’m sure Mr. Bushnell was thinking of video games when he spoke these words, but if you think about it, his logic cannot be denied.
The game of darts, without a doubt, adheres to Bushnell’s law.
One of the principal reasons why darts has grown to be so popular is because anybody can pick up a set of darts and start playing. I mean that. Anybody can play darts, from a seven-year-old child to a 78-year-old grandma.
It doesn’t matter one bit if you are in a wheelchair or if you are morbidly obese. If you want to play darts, you can play darts.
However, once you’ve had your first game, once you’ve been bitten by the bug, you quickly realize that the sky’s the limit. Becoming a master darts player is hard work.
Mastering this game could very well be a lifetime journey. There are so many factors and variables involved in the perfect throw.
You have to finetune your hand-eye coordination to the millimeter, you have to perfect your stance, your grip, and achieve flawless dart throwing technique. There is a world of terminology to learn and of history to absorb.
You’ll soon spend countless hours learning about the different components of a dart and many more hours trying to find the right combination of components that work for you.
The point is that no matter how long you’ve been playing darts, there’s always going to be room to grow and mature as a player. Only the best games in the world can offer that, and darts does so in spades.
The modern era of darts has brought professional darts to the mainstream. Organized league play is now televised across the entire world. Darts betting has grown into a multimillion-dollar industry.
The game’s public profile has never been bigger.
Sports have always been about big personalities, and the game of darts is brimming with them. Darts’ last few decades have been characterized by larger than life figures who dominate the game and provide us with countless timeless moments.
For example, who can forget the 2013 Grand Slam of Darts semi-finals match-up between Adrian Lewis and Phil Taylor?
It was a blistering performance on both sides, and it now stands as one of the greatest moments in sports history.
It is men like Adrian Lewis and the legendary Phil Taylor, men like Raymond van Barneveld, Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Jocky Wilson, that put the game on the global stage.
These men embody the passion of millions and are one of the main reasons why this sport has gained as much notoriety as it has in the past decades.
Darts is a privileged sport, and fans of the game are now used to seeing legendary players face each other on the oche. In fact, I’m willing to bet money that no other sport has had so many living legends alive and active at the same time.
It’s Good For Your Body
Ok I will admit playing darts is not as intense as running a marathon, but there is a lot more physical activity happening here than people give credit.
Most time when you are playing darts you are either standing or walking. The walk to the board and back is not far, but if you are playing for an hour or two a few times a week, this does add up.
This is excellent news for those who live a more sedentary lifestyle, where any activity is good activity. There are players in my league that are in their 80s, and darts are about the only real exercise they get. What better way to stay active and have fun at the same time?
Walking is not the only exercise here. The constant throwing includes the use of your whole arm from your shoulder to your wrist. Every dart play knows their game gets worse the longer they play. Even if you can’t feel it this repetitive exercise can be exhausting. I even plan my workouts around my game days because I know I can not train my arms and throw in the same day.
Darts can also help you with balance. In our article about choosing the best dart stance, we discussed how a stance is much more than just where you put your feet. To throw a dart accurately, you must be properly balanced, and that requires the use of supporting muscles all throughout your body.
It’s Good For Your Mind
Speaking from personal experience, I can attest that playing darts is extremely beneficial to those who lead high-stress lives. Apart from being fun on several levels, it is an incredibly effective way to fight off the drudgery of daily routine.
Additionally, darts is the perfect activity to establish close-knit friendships with individuals outside your everyday routine and environment.
Darts allows people to experience friendly and healthy rivalries in which each individual can demonstrate his or her skill and compete in a safe environment free of judgment and prejudice.
Furthermore, the measured and methodical nature of the game can allow for plenty of contemplative and meditative moments.
No matter the type of venue, whether playing in a league circuit, with your friends in a pub or your kids at home, darts can provide hours upon hours of positive easygoing experiences. Dart games are generally filled with laughter and camaraderie, inside jokes, shared drinks, and snacks.
The game of darts brings people together and can help set the stage for friendships that will last a lifetime. It provides an environment where people of all ages, ethnicities, and genders can come together and join in the celebration of a shared passion.
Moreover, in this day and age of ever-diminishing attention spans, darts can help you improve your concentration and self-control. It can also help people suffering from low self-esteem with a platform with which to work on their confidence.
Any way you look at it, playing darts is an ideal activity.