Last night in Blackpool Phil “The Power” Taylor won yet another major darts title. He beat the number two player in the world, Holland’s Raymond van Barneveld by 18-12, despite playing nowhere near his best.
Phil Taylor has dominated darts in recent years in a manner that few others have ever managed in other sports. So does he deserve to be recognised as a great sportsman?
Taylor has been a professional darts player for 20 years. During this time he has won 15 world championships and 68 other major tournaments. Not even the likes of Woods or Federer have a comparable record.
He has taken darts to a new level. Darts is easily measured by statistics and Taylor’s domination is clear to see. He regularly averages ten to fifteen points per throw greater than his opponents. And of the 20 highest average scores ever recorded Taylor holds 17.
So is Taylor a sporting superstar? Perhaps the question has to be, is darts a sport? Or is it, as many claim, just a pub game?
There are various definitions of sport that can be found from a quick Google search. Most seem to involve three distinct elements: physical activity, a codified set of rules and competition.
By those definitions then, darts is a sport. As are the likes of snooker, bowls and shooting. And reports on all of these can be found in the sports pages of the newspapers, the sports section of websites and they can all be watched on dedicated sports channels.
Those who argue that darts is a game rather than a sport would suggest that the physical activity is minimal, hence the fact that lots of overweight men can be good at it. Well, not all golfers are exactly super slim, are they? And what about front row forwards in rugby?
Darts is just throwing at a target on a board, they say. But is archery vastly different? Or competitive shooting? And both of these sports are competed for in the Olympic Games.
No one is arguing that darts players are athletes. But I think that they are sportsmen.
So why not have an Olympic darts competition? Phil Taylor with a gold medal in London 2012 sounds good to me!