Darts – Once a Regional Game, now Standardized

If everybody looked the same, the 1999 Groove Armada song lamented, we’d get tired of looking at each other. While the track was talking about the wonders of human culture, its overall theme – standardization – has parallels throughout society. In many cases, the concept of standardization conjures up imagery of sterile, boring things yet it’s one of the most essential practices in areas like construction and sport.

Darts

Today, the center of the bulls-eye on a dartboard must be exactly 5ft 8 in from the floor. This attention to detail applies to just about every part of the sport, from dart manufacture to distance from the oche. The accuracy of darts betting outlets directly affects their standing with the wider public, while forging a career in the provision of darts betting tips can seem like a difficult task indeed with all the variables in play.

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Sport is built on precision. Every football adheres to as rigid a set of regulations as the newest skyscraper does and the capacity of all stadia can be known to the individual person. Of course, many of these rules and regulations are put in place to ensure that everybody gets exactly the same chance at the same outcome. Letting athletes have longer or heavier javelins at the Olympics would cause chaos, after all.

Bull’s-eye

Darts wasn’t always so inflexible, though. For many years followings the sport’s inception in the late 19th century, dartboards were different sizes, colors, and included different ways of scoring points. This huge variation was due to its slow, gradual adoption in different counties, rather than a wholesale rollout that put a dartboard in every pub in the British Isles. Darts and dartboards would not be standardized until after the 1970s.

The modern board, made from sisal fiber, includes three elements that divided the sport in its formative years, namely, the double bull’s-eye, dual metal rings, and the coveted treble-twenty. However, there were around ten possible alternatives that could have been chosen for 21st-century pub walls and a reported twelve quadrillion possible combinations of board features, depending on how the board is rotated.

Manchester Log-end

So, what were these legendary boards? Historians of the sport generally focus on around ten examples from the darts’ early years, including the Manchester Log-end and Yorkshire boards. The latter was only missing the treble-twenty and second bull’s-eye ring from the modern game but the Log-end was a different board altogether. While it’s still made today in amounts of 400 per year, the Manchester board is considered one of the hardest to play.

The Yorkshire and Manchester Log-end represent both parts of a divide in dartboard design. As mentioned, the Yorkshire version is similar to the modern one but so are the Stafford, Tunbridge, London, Quadro 240, and Ipswich 5s, which only has multiples of five on the board. On the East Coast, though, the boards have a sinister black visage, with more opportunities to score in the case of the Grimsby board.

The history of darts and dartboards is an adventure in regional design and players’ gradual effort to standardize its various elements.

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