Recently, I was chatting with Randy Henry, a fellow darter who resides in the St. Louis, Missouri area. He was relating his experiences at the 27th Annual Blueberry Hill tournament. He had the extreme fortune to run in to Paul Lim, one of America's finest darters. Randy stated that Paul was a real down-to-earth individual. Even took the time and showed Randy some pointers. After a few more minutes of chatting, he and I came up with the same conclusion on what the sport of Darts has that no other sport does. It's the only sport where the true elite not only compete at their level, but also regularly compete with the rest of us. Not only compete, but mingle as well between matches. Add to that the wonders of the Internet, we are even able to chat with or post messages to a few of them.
I am not a frequent traveler when it comes to tournaments, but, through the stories of others, I am convinced that the sport of darts has a very good thing going; something that no other sport has. The stories have ranged from merely shooting the breeze to giving advice to actually competing with them. It still amazes me that such a high percentage of the best throwers in the country are so willing to pass on their knowledge and experience to those of us who will probably never make it to the big time. Here are a couple of stories that will illustrate my point.
A couple of years ago at the Shoot For The Moon tournament in Huntsville, Alabama, one woman was selling her dart wares. She has some display cases set up. After the Friday night's events ended, she locked everything up in the display cases and left them in the locked banquet room. Well, someone broke in and stole about $600 worth of darts. The deed wasn't discovered until the following morning. Needless to say, this poor lady was upset because she would have to personally have to replace those darts. Roger Carter took it upon himself and started asking for donations to help this woman recover some of the loss. I believe he donated $50 himself. I'm not quite sure how much he did collect, but it was more than what was stolen. He could have said 'Tough luck' or something to that effect. Even though this story isn't about a dart related experience per se, but it does show that even the best throwers don't consider themselves above the rest of us.
This next one Tim Cronian has told me several times. It's one of the best stories that I've heard. It was back in 1988 and, at the time, he had only been throwing competitive darts for a couple of years. He went to the Peachtree Open in Atlanta, Georgia. He had the luck of drawing Eric Bristow (at the time, ranked #1 in the World) as a partner for the 301 DI/DO event. Tim couldn't believe it at first. He said he threw the best darts of his life, taking out 4 outs over 100, and hit a couple of key outs after Eric just missed his chance at it. They make it to the Final 4. He threw his first 3 warm up darts, retrieved his darts, and then he saw more than 200 people gathered around. Within the crowd was a TV camera. He said he had the 'deer in the headlights' look. Eric asked him what was the matter. Tim replied, 'Nothing...As long as I don't look up'. Their opponents were Paul Lim (according to Tim, ranked #1 in The States) and he couldn't remember the other guy. Tim and Eric lost 2 games to 1. Eric congratulated Tim on his darts. Now this is where the story gets even better. The next day, as Tim was warming up, Eric tapped him on the shoulder and offered to buy him a beer. Tim accepted, on the condition that he would have to by Eric one later. Can you imagine this? The #1 ranked player in the World standing in the beer line getting a cold one for some 'no-named dart throwing geek from Alabama?' (Tim's words, not mine).
This interaction isn't confined to the dart venues. Almost the same thing occurs via the Internet. Through various means, darters have been in electronic contact with one another. Dorren Berry and Tina Digregorio, a couple of the top Ladies shooters in the USA, have been frequent posters to the ListServer provided by Cyber Darts. And it isn't limited to the top shooters. Sandi Cain and Glenn Remick, Presidents of the American Darts Organization and the American Darters Association, respectively, have also posted with regularity. The new age bracket was set up for 18, 19, and 20 year olds, due to, what seemed at the time, one innocent e-mail. At that time, there were only 2 age groups, Youth (12 through 17) and Adult (18 and up). Since there were a great number of pubs that won't allow anyone under 21 due to various laws, the 18 through 20 age group were somewhat forgotten. Through numerous e-mails, Sandi Cain suggested the new age bracket at the recent ADO meeting and it was approved. This occurred within a span of about 6 months. How much longer, do you think it would have taken, if no one from the ADO office was involved with the discussion from the beginning?
The bad thing about listing these few examples is that I left out a whole bunch of people who have been involved as much or even more so. I am truly interested in hearing from anyone with stories as such as these. I truly believe that these tales occur much more frequently than with any other sport. The sport of darts has been look down at for numerous reasons (which I don't want to get into right now). Too many people look at the negatives. Not enough look at the positives. Stories like these are truly the positives of this Sport. A Sport, of which, I'm proud of.