Walk into any bar in the US, UK, or Australia, and you're bound to see two opponents fighting it out head-to-head or just enjoying a casual, relaxed game of darts in the pub. The sport has been taking the world by storm and is bound to grow in popularity as more and more viewers tune-in for professional darts tournaments.
If you peruse the history of darts, you'll see that the game has spread around the world at a rapid rate. If you look at the statistics alone, the sport is the most popular in the United Kingdom and the United States of America. In the USA alone, more than 17 million people play darts. However, despite this popularity, European countries have traditionally dominated the professional sport of darts.
Today, however, we're going to ignore the European elephant in the room and focus on a matchup of Australia and the United States. Who would win in a matchup between these two countries? Let's take a look at the world of darts in each and try to determine a winner.
Darts is a popular sport in many countries around the world. According to Darts Database, England wins the top spot for the best country at darts in the world. Australia comes in at #7, and the United States ranks #11.
To that end, the main darts organisation in the world is the PDC, the Professional Darts Corporation, formerly the World Darts Council. Established in 1992, the PDC has continued to be the primary supervising association for the sport, headed by chairman Barry Hearn.
The centrepiece of the grand world of darts is the World Professional Darts Championship, one of the most important tournaments in the entire sport's calendar from 1978 to 1992. Unfortunately, a disagreement between the heads of major darts organisations created a "split" in the early 90s, causing the sport to no longer have a unified champion.
The Australian Dart Championships are Australia's most prestigious darting event, especially since 1980 when the Australian Championships separated from the Australasian Championships. The beginnings of the Australian Dart Championships go back to 1964 when Australia and New Zealand challenged each other in the Australasian Championships.
Darts in Australia first came to international prominence in 2002, when Tony David of Queensland won the BDO (British Darts Organisation) World Championship, beating the leader, Mervyn King, in the final. Since then, Australia's darts participation has been growing consistently. Simon Whitlock, Paul Nicholson, and Kyle Anderson are the three players who have attracted the most attention, although Nicholson is technically a British citizen, having been born in Newcastle.
Whitlock and Anderson are still the Aussies' top two stars, there are new names entering the playing field. Players such as Damon Heta, Peter Machin, Justin Thompson, and Corey Cadby, who despite some controversy, has obvious talent and could prove to be Australia's star of the future in the sport.
Australians love to gamble and predict the outcome of the matches, as displayed when Australia was set to host PDC events in the World Series of Darts in Wollongong and Townsville in August 2020 (but moved dates because of Covid).
Despite the massive pool of US players, the number of high-ranking competitors is rather limited. This is due in no small part to the lack of compensation opportunities for players in the USA.
The lack of ability to make a living playing darts professionally has seriously hampered the success of players in America. With small sponsorships from local breweries, regional companies, and (sometimes) dart companies themselves, the profits are quite small, especially in contrast to other sports sponsorships.
While European professionals can net thousands of dollars per month, the average professional darts player in the US might be able to earn $300-400 per month, on average. This, combined with the lack of a big-picture plan to advance the sport further in the US, severely limits players' abilities to dedicate themselves fully to darts as a career.
The advantages for European and Australasian players currently outweigh those for American players, making the professional rosters in either of those regions far more impressive than in the USA.
The other issue affecting the success of American players is the gambling effect. Since gambling has been legal in the UK for decades, this gives European players an edge, increasing spectators' interest in matches by allowing them to bet on outcomes and get more involved in competitions and results.
Due to the professional organisations, compensation limitations and opportunities, and media coverage, it seems that Australia's top competitors would give American players a run for their money. The popularity of the sport in Australia alone has pushed media stations such as FOX to have an interest in the sport due to its large consumer fan base.
This bodes well for the future of the sport in Oceania and elsewhere. Perhaps with the growing demand for darts around the world, the USA will reorganise its competition and sponsorship structure to allow for growth of up-and-coming talent there in the near future.