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Dart Mentality
by Frederick Everson
 

I expect that in all of the many enjoyable things I do, my dart game is one of the most pleasing. I play well enough, but I am not one who could walk into a big tournament and expect to win it. I expect thatís why I have never pitched a dart in an official tournament. Although I enjoy competition, sometimes the more intense it gets, the more it takes you away from what you enjoy about the game.

I play at a certain level and I am basically happy with that. Iím a pretty good bar player, and even though Iím past middle age; I am still striving to improve. In league play I can still beat most of the up and coming young players -- occasionally I can even reach back and somehow beat the best players in our league.

But throwing darts has been something of a roller coaster ride. I began playing the game in a tavern in the U.S. Virgin Islands nearly 15 years ago. From the first day, I could pitch with the best bar players there, and when I returned home to Vermont, I joined a league in Canada, that still remained true.

For a long time my game stayed at the level I started at, and then it got worse. I usually played well enough to win more often than I lost, but never improved. I never became that most dominant and intimidating player I wanted to be. I tried mightily to reach that next level for a long time, but it just wouldnít come. For a more competitive player, it might have been the end of darts. But what kept me going was that I simply like throwing darts too much. Winning is more fun than losing, but I have learned to accept the losses. If I am able to throw a good game, but get beat, itís a good loss. When I play poorly, I try to figure out why, and always think I will do better next time.

Being able to live with the good losses will keep you in the game. It may even improve it. I was once teamed with a good dart thrower whose own intensity burned him out. Every missed dart was a calamity, and his game deteriorated steadily. For years he persisted, hoping to regain past glory, talking about the way he used to play. But he just got worse. And he got worse because he never understood the point of the game Ė itís supposed to be fun.

I have been able to play this game for a long time when others have burned out. I think it has a lot to do with positive dart mentality. I like the game too much to worry about winning all the time. Last week I lost five of six singles games, more than I had lost in the previous 5 weeks, with little more than a shrug of the shoulders. I played okay, but my opponent played better. Next time I may give him a better game -- or maybe not. Either way, there will always be a next time as long as I donít consume myself with the agony of defeat. Itís only a game and itís supposed to be fun.

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