Darts – that’s not a sport.
A chestnut so hoary that it’s shacked up in a hourly rented hotel room offering sexual services to young impressionable conkers. But nevertheless, it deserves a further proding after the alarming tubbiness of Europe’s twelve greatest golfers. Yes, for this week only Britain has subsumed its’ proud sovereign history to vanquish the rather trimmer ex-colonials from the United States of we’ll bomb anywhere. Interesting slice of hypocrisy this; for 51 weeks of the year, the slur of being amalgamated into a European superstate invites jingoistic spittle from Daily Mail readers everywhere. And yet come the Ryder cup, we’re all friends across the channel with an outstanding team spirit and acting as one country, well as long as that country speaks English. Last time round, we were even led by a German, doesn’t anyone read history anymore?
But great as they are at twatting a ball with a big stick, one could not, with any degree of anatomical accuracy, consider these lardy fairway perambulators as athletes. Take “Big” Colin for starters (and he’s clearly had a few, deep fried and double portioned), with his wobbly jowels and working mans club gut. Clearly still close to the top of his game at 43, but technically speaking, a bloater.
Darren Clarke is another; can smack the spheric miles and miles but has never missed a meal; the site of him chomping a Cuban cigar washed down with a pint of black gold at the end of play did jar somewhat with proper athletes re-hydrating and refusing marital sex because it may affect their playing performance.
Imagine wheeling Thierry Henry for the Arsenal on at 43 “Remember Alan Shearer in his last season at Newcastle. Still had two legs, but one was for standing on and the other for shooting, if the strip had been all white, he’d have easily passed as a goal post. Golf is almost a game for life; you can play until all sense of physical ability has been worn away by age. That doesn’t feel like sport.
It got me thinking though; there’s a few more out there even after we’ve lumped in Darts and Snooker. The first takes place in a bar, the second played with the participants dressed like Victorian butlers. It’s the slow paced asymmetric dynamic that riles; “Oh I’ve hard my turn, go on, you have a go while I have a little sit down” You wouldn’t get a boxer trying that or a footballer handing over the ball because his allotted time has expired. Sport should be about beating what’s in front of you not taking turns to best a fairway or a snooker table, or, for pity’s sake, a bloody dartboard.
So into this bucket of non sport, let’s add Cricket (the only game in the history of competition that stops for lunch) and Bowls (entry age 65, sounds like a prostrate issue). In fact anything that turtles along at walking pace or below and encourages competitors to sit and have a think. Sport should be fast, instinctive and harking back to a time when the field of play contained roaring armies and all manner of edged weapons.
Fastest. Longest. Highest. A simple principle laid down to police the boundaries of sport. Except if we’re beating the Americans or, especially, the Australians. In that case, let me be the first to idolise the athletic prowess of our Synchronised Tiddlywinks team. All bets are off when we’re beating other countries, although it doesn’t happen often enough for the rules of proper sport to apply.