Why America Should Play Darts Instead of Football

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Malcolm Gladwell says American football is a “moral abomination," so may we suggest darts instead? The similarities between the two might surprise you.
Malcolm Gladwell says American football is a ‘moral abomination,’ so may we suggest darts instead? The similarities between the two sports might surprise you.

Americans should play more darts than football. Why? Because playing darts makes one more focused and frankly, smarter.

Malcolm Gladwell, a USA Today subscriber’s idea of an intellectual, has made headlines by claiming American football is a “moral abomination.” The author of “Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking” and “Outliers: The Story of Success” riled up the NFL and its fans by saying the league will “wither on the vine” likening the sport to dogfighting. “Can you point to another industry in America which, in the course of doing business, maims a third of its employees?” he asked Emily Chang of Bloomberg. Well, as I have learned in politics, you can’t beat something with nothing, so I have a sport to propose to take its place.

Darts has everything football has and more. For instance, in football and darts, there is more standing around waiting for the action than there is any actual action. Football has a three-second running play, followed by a huddle, then maybe a time out, and then, another running play that takes two second. In darts, a player throws a dart, has a drink, throws another one, and maybe knocks the ash off his cigarette before throwing a third.

Then, there is Gladwell’s complaint about violence. American football, like American foreign policy, is predicated on violence. I personally find violence acceptable so long as it is not gratuitous, but here, I acknowledge I am in the minority. I see no point to American football’s violence which has no motive beyond the violence itself whereas I believe violence ought to have a greater purpose, like removing a business rival. While darts is not known as a contact sport, per se, any game involving a projectile in which no protective eyewear is required has promise.

Consider, also, the scoring. American football has scores like 28-21 (although if each touchdown were counted as a point, it would be as low scoring as baseball or hockey). In darts, you have to score 501, exactly. And to help America’s flagging numeracy, you start at 501 and go down to zero. High-scoring darts, even if counted backward, could replace the pretend high scoring of American football.

And, of course, there is the fantasy every sports fan has that he (and more increasingly, she) could take the field and lead the team to victory. Isn’t that what all those jerseys in the stands are about? “Would the fan in Section 405, row AA seat 17 please report to the locker room? You’re playing tight end after the half.” Darts, and by darts I mean professional darts, is played by men who look like the average NFL fan — hardly a picture of health.

Professional darts? Yes, kids, professional darts, for lots of money. On Nov. 16, Phil Taylor won the Grand Slam of Darts by beating Dave Chisnall in the final at Wolverhampton in England. Taylor took home £100,000 (around $165,000), and Chisnall got £50,000 ($82,000).

It also works on TV and has done for decades. I remember watching it on rainy Sunday afternoons on BBC2 while drinking Ruddles County out of the can while waiting for the pubs to reopen at 7 p..m (this was back when the pubs closed every afternoon — the one thing Mrs. Thatcher fixed when she ended that).

So, you say you don’t think darts will work? What about snooker, another BBC2 beery Sunday afternoon sport? It’s like pool, but it has more balls and is generally harder. And I guarantee pool halls are more dangerous than football stadiums.

Or consider curling. Throwing heavy rocks down the ice has got to lead so some kind of violence at some stage, especially with brooms involved, even if attractive women do it. Besides, most American football fans already have appropriate clothing for curling.

Kabaddi anyone? The national sport of Bangladesh, and 130 million of them can’t be wrong, is like football. Without the pads. Or the ball. But there’s violence galore — and women play it, too. Who needs cheerleaders?

Polo? Too snooty. Elephant polo, cruel to the elephants. Motorcycle polo? Now, you’re talking. NASCAR would have to look to its laurels.

Or given our recent military actions in Afghanistan, we could adopt its national sport, buzkashi. Like polo, it involves riding a horse and scoring a goal, but the twist is rather than a ball, you use a dead goat.

Note To Mr. Gladwell from Dr. Myhre:

The “maiming” of players is significant, but the NFL is much safer than many other occupations when fatalities are considered:

NFL fatalities since its founding in 1920: 1, Charles Frederick “Chuck” Hughes, Oct. 24, 1971
Lumberjacks: 64 deaths on average per year
Commercial fisherman: 51 annually on average
Cellphone tower workers in 2006 alone: 18

And who cheers for multimillionaire cellphone tower workers?

Jeff Myhre is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine

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