The world of darts is this morning reeling from the news that a new European Union (EU) regulation threatens the very existence of the sport
Regulation 1420/16 drafted by the Commissioner for Sports and Games and due to be submitted to and considered by the full Council today aims to bring darts into line with all other target sports such as rifle and pistol shooting and archery.
When the treble ring was introduced to the game of darts at the turn of the twentieth century the highest scoring area moved from the bullseye (value 50 points) to the treble 20 (60 points) and so it has remained for more than 100 years.
Now, in order to regularise target games in general, the EU Regulation will stipulate that, with immediate effect, it will be compulsory for the bullseye to be the highest scoring area in all such sports. Therefore shooting and archery would not be affected but for darts, if approved, the regulation will cause major difficulties for the sport.
This absurd regulation will throw the entire sport of darts into chaos. By the EU insisting that the centre of the dartboard will be the highest scoring part, the treble 20, treble 19, treble 18 and treble 17 will have to be removed. Nine-darters will be a thing of the past creating an eleven dart finish which could only be achieved by hitting nine bullseyes with your first nine darts and finishing the remaining 51 in two darts. I don't think even Michael van Gerwen or Phil 'The Power' Taylor could achieve that.
The regulation will also cause problems for dartboard manufacturers. Ian Flack, Sales and Marketing Director for the WINMAU Dartboard Company, said
Those who are proposing such a radical change have simply not thought this through. From a production point of view it means we will have to alter the entire manufacturing process, which could mean an increase in the cost of dartboards to our customers. There will be a lot of head-scratching in our R & D department I can tell you.
With those four important trebles (20, 19, 18, and 17) missing, all darts players at whatever level will have to change their mode of play; so reliant are they on those key numbers. The only relatively high-scoring treble remaining will be treble 16 (48 points).
One professional darts player, who wished to remain anonymous said
"I don't know what the EU are thinking of. Why don't people stop messing about with something that ain't broke. Darts has been played for centuries in pubs and clubs and now the EU want to change the board so it fits in with posh sports like archery."
Some believe that the changes will aid darts' bid to become an Olympic sport but in my view that chance disappeared with the 2012 London Olympics. Darts will never become an Olympic sport now and I believe that the majority of darts players don't care if it is an Olympic sport or not. They just want to play the most sociable sport on the planet.
When pressed for an explanation, EU spokesperson, Sweden's Olof Prila, said
Regulation 1420/16, if approved, will bring darts completely in line with other target games within the European Community and ensure a standardisation of procedures, processes, and play that comply with the overall competencies expected by the EU Sports and Games Commission.
I sincerely hope that the EU Commissioner sees the error of his ways and nips this absurdity in the bud before it wreaks havoc with our sport.
Dr. Darts' Newsletter 71 - 1. April 2016