It took the UK years to succeed in the fight for recognition of darts as a sport, this only being achieved in 2007. Before that enlightened countries such as the Netherlands and New Zealand had no problem with it. In fact in New Zealand there is even an approved coaching manual for the sport.
In England determined dart players lobbied their Members of Parliament to try to raise the issue with other interested parties and pressure groups; all it seemed to no avail. Darts, as expected, was attacked by those who believed it should never be recognised as a sport. In addition the lack of interest in darts by the media generally ensured that the wider debate never received a fair airing. But that was all in the past yet despite recognition I can find no benefits whatsoever that the sport has derived from that recognition more than a decade ago.
However, whatever an individual’s reasons might have been for putting our sport down, nothing is as outrageous as that pronounced by a Russian doctor in 1984.
According to a report in the national press at the time, Dr. Alexei Buryaton stated that darts was a ‘disgrace’, adding that it kept children away from school, absenting themselves so they could play and make money at the game. Dr. Buryaton was quoted as saying, “How poor one of the leading sporting countries must have become when it regards as sport an entertainment with beer and tobacco.” He further added that darts – not beer – ‘muddles the brain’ and misleads the people by leading them along a path of ‘dreaming of enrichment’.
Keith Deller, who had a year earlier won that memorable Embassy final against Eric Bristow commented, “What a load of rubbish. Darts is a pastime and sport which gives pleasure to many people.”
In 1986 a letter was sent to the Society for Cultural Relations with the USSR in London asking for more information about Dr. Buryaton and his outburst against our sport. An extract from the response reads:
‘Despite the fact that we have extensive up to date files of cuttings from the Soviet English and Russian press about sports of all kinds, some very obscure, I can find no references at all to darts, nor can I recollect ever seeing any…’
© Patrick Chaplin 2007 (Updated 2019)