The word ‘Dartitis’ is now widely used by the darts media and is referred to at most major darts events, but what is it and more to the point where did the phrase come from?
Because Darts501 is a general website about the game of darts I feel I should mention something about ‘Dartitis’. I have heard many references to ‘Dartitis’ from BBC & Sky TV dart commentators and also read many an article about it. But what does it really mean?
I first tried to find the correct definition for ‘Dartitis’ by referring to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) but to my amazement, I couldn’t find it. I contacted the OED direct and I was informed the word was not listed in any OED publication and was asked to submit the word for consideration of inclusion
The BBC TV had been a series called ‘Balderdash and Piffle’. This series was exploring the origins of words, their usage, and the earliest written reference. Evidence of word usage seemed to be the only acceptable evidence, although I do recall on one occasion a dated sound recording was also used as evidence of a word! With this in mind, I collected a number of written references to ‘Dartitis’ and submitted these to the OED. I had a reply from Graeme Diamond, Principal Editor, New Words Group. He stated that the word had been considered several years ago and the earliest reference the OED had at the time was dated 1989! I thought this strange as I was sure the word had been in use well before 1989.
The OED will not accept hearsay; recorded evidence in the written form seems to be the only really acceptable form of evidence. The OED also has a criteria before a word is included into the OED. Graeme Diamond sent this reply regarding the criteria:
“We require five pieces of printed evidence from five different sources over a period of at least five years before we even consider a word for inclusion. Once these criteria have been met (which, with dartitis, is the case) we take in a broader range of considerations, first and foremost widespread evidence of a word being used in general contexts, but also other factors such as historical importance, and so on, and prioritize on that basis. At any one time, there are many thousands of words and senses awaiting consideration for inclusion, so although I am not able to give you a precise idea of when you can expect the word to appear, and I can venture to say that on first impressions its chances look good.”
If you look at the meaning of the word 'Dartitis' would translate into 'inflammation of the dart'! What! I hear you say, that cannot be so, and darts do not get inflamed. Well, the well-meaning person who first used the word may not have thought through correctly what he or she was trying to convey.
‘Dartitis’ is a name given to describe the general condition affecting the throwing ability of dart players. In most cases, players lose control of the dart they are throwing and in more severe cases they are unable to let go of the dart. The pullback of the throwing arm can lock as can sometimes the hand. It has been described as a form of ‘Yips’ that a golfer can suffer from.
I consulted a number of professionals regarding ‘Dartitis’ and they include darts historian Patrick Chaplin, Wayne Baker from Darts World, and the editor at the time of Darts World Tony Wood. In a conversation with Tony, he said he had invented the word back in the seventies but the earliest written reference that can be found was in Darts World January 1981 eight years before the OED’s reference. I have sent copies of the article along with several other written references and a DVD showing Dartitis being used in a TV interview to the OED
Well, I don’t have one, but having researched this word a fair bit I have come across a few articles and forum references from people explaining how they have managed to overcome this problem.
The most famous darter known to have suffered from 'Dartitis' was Eric Bristow. I believe I read somewhere that Eric adjusted his throw. He always brought his arm well back before throwing. It then locked and he couldn’t throw. I believe he adjusted this by not drawing his arm back so far to prevent locking. I also believe I read that he used a stress ball to help with his dart release.
I have also seen a number of posts on this subject with people saying they either had the problem or had recovered from it. There doesn’t really seem to be one solution that fits everyone. Phil Taylor posted his views on the subject and he stated he had suffered the condition in the early days of his darts career. He said he was told by an old darts thrower to throw a brick in his garden i.e. get used to throwing something heavy and the release of the dart will follow!
If you have any thoughts on how to cure ‘Dartitis’ please add them to the dartitis database section or if you wish just view others comments.
Thank you to all that helped me provide the evidence to the OED