THE BLOG

Darts... Really?

27/01/2015 14:00 GMT | Updated 28/03/2015 09:59 GMT

There's a virus spreading across this land. It's been there festering in dingy backwater pubs for decades, but slowly it's eating its way further into the general public. And it goes by the name of darts.

I remember when it used to be easy to ignore darts unless you went looking for it. There were only two weeks a year when the game would be on the television and if you happened to work during the week then you'd miss all the preamble and could only possibly catch a glimpse of the final from Lakeside. But in recent years, and more notably since this Christmas-time, darts seems to have entered the mainstream.

Just when you thought you couldn't take the stale booze smell of Christmas anymore, the visual version was poured through your TV via Sky. And everyone was talking about it.

'Going to be watching the darts tonight?' was a commonplace question. No, if I want to watch a tubby lad chucking scrap metal around I'll go to the local rec.

Twitter went mad for it as well, endless feeds of low-octane check-outs. Why had so many of these people, who I follow only out of a deep respect for their reflective ponderings, suddenly decided that darts was the peak of excitement? Those cold, dark winter evenings numbing the brain no doubt.

I blame celebrities for spreading this contagious plague. It seemed at one point that every Premier League team had sent representatives down to Alexandra Palace as though it was some kind of community service. Maybe it was, who knows, Spurs coach and legend Steffen Freund was snapped wearing a bizarre Teletubby costume, clearly in need of some kind of emotional support. The mind boggles.

Thankfully this wave of enthusiasm finally calmed and I thought we would settle back into our usual regime, but no it was only turned down from 11 to 10 and seemingly the lesser loved sibling of the BDO World Championship took over. 'But I've just watched the world championships!' I could hear people yelling at Colin Murray. But would he listen? No. And so another set of frustrated pub customers had a go and a slightly different crowd of people inexplicably asked you if you'd seen the darts that night.

Now, I must confess the crowds at the events do look like they're having the time of their lives. Essentially it's a night out at the bingo where someone still shouts numbers at you but you don't have to stamp your card and thus have more hands free to aid the drinking of alcohol. I'm sure that if I were to go along one night I'd have a thoroughly enjoyable time, as long as I was in fancy dress and had a massive foam hand, naturally. But why would anyone choose to watch this on the TV? If you're a big maths fan watch Countdown for heaven's sake, at least then you have the delightful Rachel Riley reading out digits instead of human jewellery magnet, Bobby George.

I've said this to people in the past and often they tell me that they're enraptured by two sportsman trading blows in an amphitheatre. But they are wrong, this is not a sport. Any sport where, upon struggling in a semi-final you can down a pint of ale to settle you is not a sport. Maybe it was in the time of George Best, but times have changed.

Some people say Phil Taylor should win Sports Personality of the Year, well as Super Hans in Peep Show said - 'People like Coldplay and voted for the Nazis, you can't trust people'.

This is a pub game, and with the correct concentration of alcohol in the blood, a thoroughly enjoyable pub game (apart from that moment where you inevitably argue about how to use that funny electronic scoring box thing on the wall next to the board), although it does tend to drag as no one can hit that final double. It should stay in the pub, where it belongs. Sure, it can have a few nights in a big pub like at Ally Pally or Lakeside but there's no need to force it onto my TV where it inevitably eats into time scheduled for proper sport... like snooker.