The game of darts is as old as the caverns. In fact, the sport is believed to date back to the 1300s where soldiers would throw spears to empty wine barrels to demonstrate their throwing skills. But, as time passed, darts popularity grew significantly where it became a major recreational sport played in pubs and clubs.
Today, it’s interesting to see how the status quo has changed. You see, a few decades ago, the game of darts was completely outshined by popular younger sports such as basketball, hockey, and tennis. Today, this sport has enjoyed an astonishing level of popularity by gaining increased visibility across all levels of society.
From a sport intended for pub-goers, darts have evolved into a massive spectator sport that has attracted thousands of fans into huge arenas for competitions while leaving millions of others tuned on to their televisions back at home. But, despite being so popular, most people have been asking themselves how this pub sport has gained such an astonishing level of popularity in such a short period.
How Popular is the Game of Darts?
As we mentioned earlier, darts is a sport that started as a pub game. It was played as a way to pass time with players smoking cigarettes and drinking alcohol between throws. But, as time passed, this sport evolved outside its pub confines to become a popular and well-respected sport just like other mainstream sports in recent times.
In 1924, this sport became more popular following the formation of the National Darts Association in London. Ever since the game of darts has continued to grow to a point of attracting nearly 50 million professional players and millions of fans around the globe.
Apart from attracting a huge fan base, this sport has also attracted many investors where winners can now earn a lot in terms of price money. Although the sport was predominantly dominated by men, women have also stepped up. A good example is Fallon Sherrock who became the first woman to win a match in the PDC World Darts Championship on December 17, 2019.
Although there’s a lot to talk about regarding darts, I believe most of you are eager to know which countries have dominated this sport. So, without wasting any time, I’ll discuss briefly which countries have garnered the biggest fan-base when it comes to darts.
The United Kingdom
In the UK, the game of darts has gained widespread recognition that has led to a growth in its fan base. The sport has also welcomed a plethora of highly paid professional players such as Rob Cross, Daryl Gurney, and Michael Smith.
Now, the UK hosts two major dart tournaments every year. These include the BDO World Championship and the PDC World Championship. Since these tournaments are televised live by major sports channels such as Sky Sports and Eurosports, most people have a chance to watch and bet on their favorite players in real-time. This has led to a rise in the popularity of darts as a professional sport in the UK.
The United States
Unlike in the UK, the game of darts in USA tends to lean more on pubs rather than professionally like in most European countries. That explains the reason why you’re likely to come across a dartboard mounted in almost any pub you’ll land in.
I think the reason why most US players aren’t ranked by the DDB (Darts Database Rankings) is that most of the PDC events are held in Europe making it extremely hard for American players to attend. But, despite this, expert dart players are fast rising in the US meaning it’s just a matter of time before we see them competing at higher levels.
Also, major darts associations have been on the rise in the US with the likes of the American Darters Association, National Darts Association, and the American Darters Organization. Although the US is currently ranked 11 by the DDB, it’s just a matter of time before the sport gains widespread popularity.
Other Parts of the World
Apart from the UK and the USA, the game of darts has seen a rise in popularity in other parts of the world such as in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. In Europe, countries such as Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Russia, Spain, and New Zealand have acknowledged great development and interest in this sport.
In Africa, countries such as Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Morocco, and Botswana have shown a massive interest in darts though the level of interest is still in its infancy. Thankfully, with major sporting channels televising most dart events in real-time, a lot is expected to happen in the future.
What Make Darts So Popular?
1. Easy to Learn But Still Challenging
The game of darts is hailed for being one of the easiest and less demanding sports. The setup is easy as the game only requires you to pick the darts and throw them on the dartboard. The sport can also be played at any moment regardless of whether you’re in your workplace, in the laundry, or just at home relaxing.
Another factor that proves the simplicity of this sport is its simple rules. For instance, if you’re playing the 01 games, the rules will demand you to double in to start the game and double out to end the game. The dartboard is calibrated with 20 different segments with each having a different value.
There are also different zones on the board that represent the double, triple, outer, and inner bulls. Each zone has its own value, which is quite easy to understand. But, despite sounding like an easy sport, the game of darts has its own fine share of challenges that are only noticeable once you get into the game.
One of those is learning all the rules of darts, which according to most is a hefty burden. Another challenge is learning proper hand-eye coordination. This helps you to improve the stance, grip, and dart throwing technique. Thankfully, all these skills can be learned by practicing regularly for 5 to 6 hours daily.
So, the main point here is that the game of darts will always keep you on the edge of the seat if you wish to grow as a player. This has led to its widespread popularity as it offers a lot of dynamics as compared to most sports.
2. Global Domination in Betting on Darts
In the past, the game of darts was considered a pub sport only played by pub tenders. However, following the formation of powerful darts organizations, this sport has rapidly gotten out of its traditional boundaries to become a professional sport played in multiple settings.
Now, since becoming a well-respected sport, the game of darts has seen an increase in the number of professional players. This has created a wider talent pool that has encouraged stiff competition among players. As a result, this sport has attracted a huge number of spectators that watch the games to support their favorite players.
There has also been a huge impact on attendance leading to a rise in sponsorships and an increase in price money. As more people continue to appreciate darts as a professional sport, betting firms have taken this rare opportunity to offer darts betting services to their customers.
With lots of great markets available to bet on, potential gamblers have appreciated darts as a sport making it more popular in the process.
3. It’s a Social Sport
The world today is dominated by lots of technological advancements in form of gaming consoles, computers, smartphones, and televisions. Although it has allowed us to catch up with technology, most people have turned out to live a less sociable life, which according to most experts is unhealthy.
But, following the rise in popularity of darts, this indoor sport has created a fun and enjoyable way of spending time with friends and family. In fact, this sport has become one of the most sociable sports due to its accessibility and simplicity. Therefore, by competing with players from different diversities, you get a chance to broaden your social circle.
4. It Has Many Variations
Another reason that makes darts a popular sport is the different gaming variations it offers. You see, most indoor and outdoor sports follow the same set of rules. However, when it comes to darts, players enjoy a lot of dynamics as there are many types of game variations to play.
For instance, most professional tournaments use the 01 games, most specifically the 501. This game is also recommended for beginners as it helps you to master dart rules much faster. But, apart from the 01 games, there are other variations that offer more advanced rules, mechanics, and objectives.
Games such as “Around the Clock”, “Chase the Dragon”, “Killer”, “Cricket” and “Shanghai” offer more challenges thus pushing players to improve their tactics significantly for them to win. The dartboard itself is another area that offers a significant level of challenge.
By looking at it, the numbers on the board will appear random. But, in an actual sense, these numbers are strategically placed to encourage accuracy and punish inaccuracy at the same time. That’s the reason why you’ll see high scoring sections being placed in between two low scoring sections.
5. It’s Good For Your Health
The relaxing effect that comes with playing darts is important as it gives the sport a therapeutic advantage. To those people living a stressful life, playing darts can help you break the monotony by offering you a way to relax the brain. Now, there are two major ways darts can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The first one is by broadening your social circle. You see, in recent times, most people tend to focus more on their studies and careers. As a result, their social life becomes hugely affected leading to a high level of stress and depression.
Thankfully, by playing darts, you can create a stage to establish close-knit friendships with people from different age groups, ethnicities, and gender.
Secondly, darts aids in improving your concentration, focus, and strategic thinking. Now, you don’t need to be a mathematician for you to win in darts. However, with good strategic thinking, you can easily play and win games such as the 501. By planning each move systematically, you’ll end up improving your confidence and your self-esteem at the same time.
6. It’s Cheap to Play
Darts is one of the easiest and the cheapest sports to play. The game can be played anywhere and with anyone provided you have a dartboard, a set of darts, and some space to mount your board and mark the oche. The toolset is very cheap and easy to acquire.
With just a few bucks, you’ll have the entire stage set up and ready to play on. Due to its simplicity, the game of darts has managed to find its way into most people’s lives. Therefore, instead of being played only in pubs and clubs, most people can now afford to buy the toolsets and enjoy the game in the comfort of their homes.
Although darts is not a mainstream sport like soccer, basketball, or tennis, its growth rate has increased significantly due to its simplicity and affordability.
7. Offers Non-Stop Action
The game of darts is very different from most sports. One, the game is fast, thrilling, and very exciting. Two, it keeps players and fans at the edge of their seats as there’s a lot of drama involved. If you’re playing darts professionally, you’ll have to maintain a high level of consistency when throwing your darts.
Failure to hit your targets means that your opponents might outsmart you and win the game. So, with that feeling of pressure and competitiveness, the game becomes even more entertaining to watch as everyone is eager to see who comes out on top.
The same applies to beginners. Though it’s challenging to hit those high scoring segments, hitting a double, a treble or the bull gives you a feeling of satisfaction. This alone makes the game thrilling and very competitive.
8. More Television Coverage
According to PDC World Champion Michael van Gerwen, one main reason why darts have become so popular is due to the improvement in TV coverage. What this means is that through broadcasting the games live, more and more people around the globe can watch and follow dart tournaments right in the comfort of their homes.
Other than watching the games live via pay-tv networks, the number of audiences attending to watch dart games has increased significantly over the years. This has led to an increase in the prize fund, which has increased to a staggering £2,500,000 according to the 2020 PDC World Darts Championship.
9. Has Great Living Legends
One reason that has made most sports excel is due to a remarkable balance of emerging talents and living legends. In fact, mainstream sports such as soccer, basketball, and tennis have always succeeded due to the presence of big personalities.
Today, darts have grown remarkably following the emergence of larger than life figures who have dominated the sport. So, by watching legendary players face each other on the throw line, this game has become more competitive thus attracting a wider fan-base.
Some of the legendary dart players include Phil Taylor, Raymond Van Barneveld, Eric Bristow, John Lowe, Gary Anderson, and Denis Priestley among others.
On the other hand, some of the rising dart players you’ll expect to see include Michael Van Gerwen, Glen Durrant, Mark McGeeney, Nathan Aspinall, and Dimitri Van Den Bergh among others.
10. Influence Over Other Popular Cultures
The last reason why the game of darts is so popular is due to its huge influence on other popular cultures. For instance, darts as a sport has a huge influence on fashion and design, music, drinks and beverages, and gambling. In gambling, major betting companies have emerged where punters can bet on their favorite players.
In music, various songs and dances have emerged as a way of applauding their favorite players for making brilliant shots. In drinks and beverages, players get the chance to market different brands of beer and beverages by drinking them in between throws. Alternatively, some players wear hats and headgears covered with bear brand labels as a way to market these brands.
Although darts is not as prevalent as other mainstream sports, its ability to outgrow its pub origins to gain worldwide acceptance in just a few decades has been astonishing. This sport is now a global phenomenon with millions of fans and professional players taking the center stage.
In this post, we’ve managed to discuss at least ten factors that have contributed massively to darts’ popularity. Factors such as television coverage have played a huge role in creating a competitive atmosphere around this sport.
With the World Series of Darts now in its sixth year, we expect the sport to become even more competitive in the coming years. Previously played in Europe, the World Series of Darts is planning to spread far beyond its boundaries by staging this major tournament in the USA, Dubai, China, and Australia.
Also, by including new faces in the tournament, besides the usual top-ranked players, the game will not only be challenging but will also be fun and exciting to watch and follow.