Darts--could it (or something like it) work in America?

As part of my new-found love of English football and growing Anglophilia, I’ve managed to stumble onto the phenomenon that is Darts in England. From a pub game televised but not especially popular, it has become the second most popular event on Sky Sports, after only the Premier League. The PDC World Championship was the hottest ticket in England.

One look at the competitions themselves makes it obvious why. The competitors are at the very highest level, true, but the spectators take it to the very highest level as well–of party. Costumes, signs, songs, and so much beer. And it’s presented as a spectacle–girls accompany the competitors, who tend towards being characters and having things like this going on. This is pretty much all thanks to promoter Barry Hearn, who I dearly hope will get a proper biography some day.

While the darts were on, a friend and I were discussing whether the right person could pull something like this off in America. Take a similar pub game–maybe darts, but it could be pool. Maybe bowling, but I think you’d wind up needing a purpose-built venue, so I don’t think that would work. Hell, for all it matters it could be shuffleboard or cornhole. Could someone turn it into a spectacular event that competes with major sports, or are the English just weird? :wink:

In a way, the USA has/had a darts-level phenomenon, albeit in two different sports; bowling (top bowlers were popular - not major sport popular, but still, if you mention Marshall Holman or Earl Anthony, there’s a good chance people would know who you were talking about), and NASCAR (where the fans go all-out, especially with their loyalties toward specific drivers).

However, you have to remember one significant difference between England and the USA; England is much smaller - traveling between the farthest points of the country is quick and affordable, since it can be done by rail in a single afternoon. As a result, a dedicated group of fans can go anywhere.

Don’t know that bowling as it is (or was, really) quite counts–it tended towards a golf-like hushed atmosphere, and I doubt major events ever really put butts in seats. NASCAR is closer to being the sort of spectacle I had in mind. (American football also tends towards the spectacle, but doesn’t count for this discussion, being one of the major sports.) Also, you do have a point about the geographic scale of England as a possible factor.

Anyway, I had meant to include a video to give an idea of what it’s like, so have this nine-darter from the recent World Championships.

I’ll also briefly note that my friend and I speculated the “everyman” appeal may be part of the recipe–as that video shows, these guys may be skilled sportsmen, but they are not what comes to mind when you think of “athletes”. Any guy watching them can somewhat plausibly think, “Well, if I got a board and some darts and started practicing, that could be me!” Must help a little bit in driving interest.

Thanks for the video! I used to play in a league in Chicago with a lot of Irish and English players. 13 darts was my best 501.

I can’t speak for the rest of America, but I love watching and throwing darts. I would think it would be more of a TV event than live, though.

Cornhole has exploded as a backyard game here in the Midwest over the last decade. I could see it becoming more of a spectator sport like what darts is in England.

Obligatory youtube video.

A few familiar faces in that, I should think.

I’ve thrown a 9 dart game. Opened with a T60 and shut the guy out. That was epic.

I once threw a T80 while holding a baby. :smiley: