The sight of the New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English, at the Auckland Darts Masters this weekend, illustrates a complete reversal in the fortunes of professional darts over the last twenty-five years.
By the late 1980’s it would have been unimaginable for anyone other than hardcore darts fans, players and their families to have been pictured at a televised darts event. The game had become associated with crude stereo types and what would now be looked at as non PC behaviour. Even edgy comedy sketch shows were putting the boot in. The infamous Not-The-Nine-O-Clock- News routine had had a devastating effect on perceptions  of darts and it’s players.
A huge amount of credit for this turnaround must go to Barry Hearn and the PDC. The re-packaging of TV side of the game, and the professionalisation of all aspects of its structure, have taken us to another level. The introduction of The Premier League, as well as the European Tour, and the global reach of the World Series have resulted in unprecedented enthusiasm.
In 2014 the World Championships at Ally Pally even attracted royal interest with Prince Harry attending. The respect given by legendary figures from other sports, such as Andrew Flintoff, Steven Gerrard and Ronnie O’Sullivan, together with the enthusiasm of luminaries such as Stephen Fry, has gone a long way to returning darts to the mainstream.
The basic combative, and psychological, elements of the game are well suited for both live and TV watching and with the constant development of their product, from the grass-roots to Premier League, the PDC have rekindled a widely felt love for this simplest of entertainments.

Author: Callum Harris