It’s amazing when you get older how your body reacts to what used to be routine sports outings.
During the summer I play slo-pitch, and after the first couple games of the season the old throwing arm grudgingly accepts that this is to be the norm for the next few months after a long winter of doing very little other than shoveling snow. For me it’s the knees as well, with longer and more extensive periods of stretching not only a good idea but now absolutely necessary unless I want to be borderline hobbled for the following few days.
I played pickup hockey out at the good old Howick CC the other Thursday with some buddies, and other than a couple blisters I was pleasantly surprised with how I felt afterwards and into the days that followed.
One would think that an activity as simple as darts wouldn’t have any adverse effects, but I redirect you to my opening sentence. The body is a strange thing.
Last month I had a few friendly games of darts with a friend of mine during an afternoon off. Former roommates in Calgary, we used to throw quite a bit and I was actually becoming a somewhat decent player.
That day last month we decided to rekindle that affection for the game, and mixed in with a couple frosty Budweisers it turned into a very enjoyable afternoon.
The next few days, however, it felt like I’d been lifting weights with one arm over 24 straight hours. Hot damn I was sore. From darts.
If you happen to flip on one of Sportsnet’s many channels over the course of a weekday, you’re likely to come across some Premier League Darts. Onnnnnnnnne hundred and eighty!! Yes, that’s the one.
Darts is the United Kingdom’s version of World Wrestling Entertainment. There are overzealous announcers, colourful costumes and beautiful women on the arms of the players as they enter the arena. Crazy drunken fans (usually the ones dressed up in the afore-mentioned costumes, often outfitted as characters that don’t make sense to the situation such as Superman or a giant chicken) scream for their favoured dart masters and brandish signs complete with slogans that are sometimes as difficult to decipher as it is to comprehend British colloquialisms.
These professional dart players are treated like gods across the pond, and in most of the other European countries from which they hail. And while I don’t necessarily understand why this is the case, these boys can sure play.
In terms of 501 if you’re familiar with the game, I’m pretty happy with a total of 80 points between three darts. The pros are averaging 120-150 per three darts, and seem to nail the max score of onnnnnnnnne hundred and eighty!! with semi-consistent regularity.
Professional dart players certainly don’t look like your typical athletes either, but they still rake in a good chunk of change from tournaments and sponsorship endorsements. Not bad for a game that they probably perfected in low-lit London pubs hustling tourists for beers and foreign currency.
All jokes aside, darts requires a lot of practice and patience to get anywhere good at, not to mention superior hand-eye coordination compared to other games or sports. It no doubt takes the pros decades of dedication before they are skilled enough to reach the top level.
That’s when you get the money, the women and the chicken costume clad fans. Then and only then have you truly made it. And I bet those boys’ arms don’t get sore for days after throwing a few games in a row.
Maybe it’s time I finally get my own board and start playing more regularly.
If I begin now, maybe by the time I’m 60 I’ll have the skills necessary to take on Europe’s finest. My horde of followers could be called “the Dan-imals”, and my entry song would either be “The Zoo” by the Scorpions or “18 and Life” by Skid Row. Something gritty and grungy from the ‘80s, just like yours truly.
Everyone needs life goals to strive for, after all. Onnnnnnnnne hundred and eighty!!
Thanks for reading Banner Blitz and I’ll see you back here in a fortnight.
This is a bi-weekly opinion column. For question or comment, Dan McNee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.