Darts has a global appeal and is played in more countries than ever. The English working man’s pub game has transformed into one of TV’s highest grossing sports activities, and the sponsors love it.
The originals of the modern game stem back to the French Game ‘Fléchettes’ meaning small arrow. However, it wasn’t until the early 1900s that the game started as we know it today.
Dartboards over the past 100 years have developed and changed, and there are still many variations being produced. However, most people only know of one known as the ‘Standard’ or ‘London Clock’ dartboard. This dartboard consists of 82 scoring segments — 20 doubles, 20 trebles, 40 singles an outer and inner bullseye. The numbers 1-20 are arranged to penalise poor throw and reward good. Details of the history and further development of darts and dartboards can be found in the history section.
Little has changed to this design since the 1920s. However, the board manufacturing process has changed from mainly wood to the use of sisal and the wiring to divide the scoring segments, sometimes known as the spider, has got thinner. However, one of the biggest changes came when a variation of the board was made out of plastic! The one other major thing that has changed is prize money and registering with the pa lottery bonus code could be rewarding for you as the prize money is for the professional player.
Soft-tip Darts started in America in 1975. A small machine shop owner named Rudy Allison was travelling through Ireland when he stayed in a town called Wicklow. He spent some time playing steel tip darts with the locals but notice the flow of play was interrupted by the marking of the score on a chalkboard. He thought why someone hadn’t thought of a way of scoring the game electronically as per pinball machines. This thought consumed Rudy and, on his way, back to America, he had developed a rough idea of how a new style dartboard could calculate the scores automatically.
Over a period of a year, Rudy experimented, refined his idea and gained financial backing to develop his plan into a business. He produced a dartboard made from a plastic/latex that had thousands of holes in. The steel tip of the dart was replaced with a plastic tip, so when the dart entered the board, the tip would trigger a circuit which recorded the score. This invention meant there was no need for the manual marking of the game.
The UK hasn’t embraced soft-tip darts as well as the USA or parts of Asia. I guess the main reason is that the board is slightly bigger and thus a steel-tip player might find this game a little easier or it may be that you usually have to pay to use the machines. However, I am not sure.
When it comes to the world of darts, there have been some massive personalities in the, going back to the nineteen-eighties, Jocky Wilson, John Lowe and Eric Bristow, to more modern times with players like Phil Taylor and Michael Van Gerwen, however ever few came from the USA.
Darts has become a very popular in the US, with over Seventeen Million players according to the National Sporting Goods Association, it is still seen very much as a ‘pub game’ rather than the sport it is over there, and the big stage TV tournaments are still in its infancy.
In the US, there are three professional darts associations. The American Darters Association (ADA), the American Darts Organisation (ADO) and the National Darts Association (NDA) and each is growing the sport
Of the three organisations in the US, the ADA is the only one that covers both the traditional ‘steel tip’ darts, as well as the newer electronic soft-tip style of game. The ADO focuses solely on the steel tip darts, while the NDA’s focus is on the soft-tip style, and is working closely with manufacturers and entertainment owners to try and get more of the electronic darts boards into venues for leagues and competitions.
President of the ADA, Karl Remick, feels that the reason darts hasn’t reached the levels it should have in the US is down to the fact that the organisations don’t have a shared strategic long-term plan. “They always think it’s a good idea, [but] they never do it in the long run,” he says. “Without one common goal, we can’t go anywhere. We can’t get on the same page for some strange reason.”
Tom Sawyer, President of the ADO, agrees with Remick, but he admits that the ADO has to be his immediate focus. Tom claims that when he joined the organisation, it was a financial disaster and that a lot of work has been done to try and turn that around.
The problem is without that level of drive and focuses from the USA Darts Organisations; darts is only ever going to be seen as a hobby/pastime in the country. With the ADA, even though it cites thousands of members of the organisation, there are only 119 players who count themselves as professionals on the books, and with numbers like that, it is not hard to see why there aren’t many players hitting the world stage. Hopefully, in the future, though, things will come together in the US, and we could see a higher number of US players participation in the sport.
Soft-tip darts is still played more than steel tip darts in the USA. However, things are changing. The more lucrative side of the sport is ‘Steel Tip’ considered widely a harder game to play. For the best American players to make their way into the top level of the steel tip game, they need to regularly compete against the best players in the World on the European circuit. Although a few have succeeded over the past four decades, many would have thought more players over this time would feature in the top fifty in the world.
The USA darts has a good sturdy platform, and with a small investment, darts could be the next big sport in the Country.