I have nothing but admiration for the way in which Sky Sports has turned darts from being a minor pub game into a sport that is played out in massive arenas. Dozens of fat blokes from all over the world have become household names as a result. Everyone knows Phil “The Power” Taylor, Raymond van Barneveld and that twat with the dyed hair and stupid clothes. There are more tournaments than ever, the big tournaments are sold out months in advance, but isn’t it beginning to look a little stale?
Sky’s PDC tournaments are not for the darts purists. One look at the crowd and you can see that the vast majority of those in attendance are there for the beer and the craic. There is fancy dress, singing, heavy drinking and, now and again, a darts match. It’s a great night on the lash and who can knock that?
I’ve tried watching tonight, the Grand Prix from Dublin. The commentators are as hysterical as ever, the crowd is as raucous as ever, but I just get the feeling that we might just have seen the high water mark of darts on the telly.
Many of the players are not really stars at all. They are widely applauded to the stage, but I am not convinced that all that many folk in the crowd really give a toss who’s playing, unless it’s one of the top boys. With Taylor apparently on the slide, will he take the game down with him?
The “stars” on my telly at the moment are the young Dutch lad Jelle Klassen and Dave “Chizzy” Chisnall, neither of whom have sufficient charisma to fill a matchbox. The crowd cheers loyally, but I suspect by tomorrow morning, or maybe even tonight, they will not remember much about it. Take many of the big names out and you have a slightly tedious non event.
It’s not like football or cricket where the combatants have a wide variety of skills. In darts, you aim most of your darts at the treble twenty and the rest at a few doubles. It requires great skill, but mainly the same skill.
With winter on the way, darts is a good space filler for Sky and it’s a good time filler for me when there’s not much else on, but I was bored tonight, I had seen it all before and it was no longer interesting.
The live shows are a very different thing and they will continue for so long as the full house signs are up. I just sense the golden days of darts are over for the time being.