’60 Minutes Sports’ Reports on International Darts
via press release:
HOW BIG OF A SPECTATOR SPORT IS DARTS? ITS TOP PLAYER SAYS HIS ARM WAS INSURED FOR $15 MILLION!
“60 MINUTES SPORTS” PREMIERES TONIGHT, MAY 1 ON SHOWTIME®
Premieres Tonight at 9:00 PM, ET/PT
The game Americans play in their parlors for fun or in pubs for beers has become such a spectator sport elsewhere that it is broadcast on television in more than 100 countries and its millionaire top player had his arm insured for $15 million. Correspondent Mark Phillips reports on the phenomenon of international darts, the players, the promoter and some of the frantic fans for whom the annual two-week championship has become a big party, complete with costumes and singing. See Phillips’ story on 60 MINUTES SPORTS tonight, Wednesday, May 1 at 9:00 PM, ET/PT only on SHOWTIME. Watch a clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bC57T8UxCgA
Phil “The Power” Taylor has dominated the sport of darts for years, earning millions in the process – a feat even he says he would have never have thought possible “in a million years.” On his arm being insured for $15 million, he jokes to Phillips, “I think when I retire I may cut it off accidentally.”
But is it really a sport? Is Taylor, a short, roundish middle-aged man, an athlete? “Absolutely, without a question or doubt,” says Barry Hearn, the game’s biggest promoter, who’s made a lot more than Taylor from darts. “And I see them as worthy as any gold medal winner in any Olympics, because they have dedicated their life in exactly the same way,” he tells Phillips. “They dedicate their lives to pinpoint accuracy, which requires endless training, endless concentration.”
The concentration is critical and that’s where some amateurs may be able to relate to this lofty level of their casual game – nearly all of the players drink alcohol before they throw. The pros tell Phillips that they drink a few pints of beer and maybe a shot of whisky before they compete.
As Raymond “Barney” Van Barneveld puts it, quaffing can critical. “If I go on stage, because of the nerves, I get really cold hands. And you can’t throw a dart with cold hands. So, sometimes, you need a drink to warm up.”
If the players get warmed up, their fans are on fire. In London around Christmastime, the World Darts Championship is held over a two week period. The fans, many suited up in outrageous costumes, drink more beer per person than visitors to Germany’s Okterberfest.