So I’m in London, the Olympic torch relay is due to pass by within a discus-throw shortly, and the opening ceremony itself will be held not far away in just a few days. But, magnificent as I’m sure the whole upcoming festival of sport will prove, from at least a personal point of view it would have been all the more enjoyable for the inclusion of two new events.
The first of these (which I don’t expect you necessarily to care about, but indulge me) is squash, which sadly only just lost out for inclusion in the 2016 games. The second (which I trust you do care about) is darts.
Now the concept of darts in the Olympics may give rise to comments from some quarters about the lack of a requirement for especial athleticism, but this argument can be countered by citing existing Olympic events such as archery and shooting. However, before I arouse the ire of markspeople everywhere (clearly not a good idea!), let me quickly add that I do not underestimate the exceptional physical abilities and skill required in those sports, but surely it’s fair to say many of the same attributes are required in darts?
That said, there is one issue that would need to be addressed before any Maestro of the Tungsten could win Olympic Gold. What type of tip would be on their darts?
Here in the UK soft-tip darts is very much the junior partner, but in other parts of the world (as our old friend Warren’s recent Uniblog relates) it has a large and increasing following. And it seems to me that it would be both a shame and counterproductive to the case for inclusion to limit Olympic darts to just one code at the expense of the other. Which leaves us with a problem – is there any way a compromise can be found?
Well, that’s too tough and controversial a question for me to attempt to answer here, but I will proffer a couple of ideas for discussion. Perhaps an Olympic darts contest could feature combined results from both codes? Or how about using a conventional steel-tip board, which would permit using heavier steel-tip barrels if so desired, but with a soft-tip 8 foot oche and 701 game? Or perhaps you have some better ideas? If so, let me know!
But all of this raises a wider issue - Olympic event or not, would it be worthwhile trying to eliminate some of the seemingly arbitrary differences between the codes? Is it really essential to keep a less-than-3-inch difference in throwing distance? And wouldn’t it be more logical for a player who says they like an 18gm steel-tip dart to mean 18gm all-up weight, as they would with a soft-tip dart, and not just an 18gm barrel (including point) which might come in at anywhere between 19gm and 21gm once the shaft and flights are added?
Well, it might be too much to hope that such established factors can be changed, but one area where advances can be made in reconciling soft with steel is equipment technology. Converta points are existing examples of this, as are E-bristle boards which accept either type of tip (I personally think there is room for further development of these – it just needs a big enough market to be there). And even I am thinking of trying to provide a bit of extra help to cross-code players as (to let you into a secret which relates to John’s post to my last blog) I’ve been pondering “cross-tip” darts which can accept a soft-tip or a steel-tip (maybe in a ZeroD nose cone) whilst remaining aerodynamically optimised in both configurations.
Perfecting the design of those will have to wait, though. The Olympics are in town for the first time since 1948 and I plan to spend the next couple of weeks watching the best in the world doing what they do best. Just enough time beforehand to bring back the Q&A section below to take a look at a couple of the issues raised after my last blog. Many thanks to Kenneth, Warren, FuzziOn, Jeff, Mad John, (presumably sane) John, and Hays for their comments, questions and words of encouragement – although I am a bit concerned that it was only a “Mad” correspondent who considers I merit a pay rise!
And now I’m off to plan my Olympic viewing schedule so as not to miss the events of most interest – even if they won’t include all the ones I’d like. When I was young there were still cartoon figure Chads to be found chalked on London walls and I can just imagine one peering down at proceedings even back in 1948 and complaining, “Wot, no darts?”
Kenneth & Fuzzi0n & Carbon SlikStiks
Good point about conventional plastic tops on carbon-shafted SlikStiks, folks, but you can bet it’s something we’ve looked at. Even then there are still problems to be solved, though, but, as I said last time, never say never! And as for FuzziOn’s request for carbon end-loaders in various lengths, take a look at the new adjustable-length Bantam Carbon!
Warren & Jeff and Front-Loaded Darts
Just to clarify something Warren mentions in his post, from a purely physics perspective I’m not a particular fan of pencil barrels as dynamic theory indicates torpedoes may have advantages for those with a rear-biased or centre grip and front-loaded darts better suit those with a forward grip. However, the fact that many players feel more comfortable throwing a parallel-sided barrel can’t be ignored and is reflected in the design of the new Sigma Carbon. But, as Jeff notes, if a player is as adaptable as The Power, sometimes the change from a pencil to a torpedo barrel can prove beneficial.