In the run-up to London 2012, the issue of why darts is not an Olympic sport, and whether or not it should be, is doing the rounds once again.
Back in 2010 I put up a lengthy post on this question, and fisked an article arguing against darts' inclusion from Tom McNab, a former British Athletics Head Coach.
Those who, like Mr McNab, argue that darts should not be in the Olympics because it is not a 'proper' sport always fall down because they can never logically explain why darts should be excluded but cue sports, or sports like Chess and Bridge, should not. Their arguments too often boil down to an irrational dislike of darts, dart players and darts fans.
"Sports must be physical" they say. "What about Chess and Bridge?" you reply. "Ah, but those require mental exertion," they counter, thereby revealing their bizarre belief that darts could be played brilliantly by someone in a coma.
Some people think darts is a joke; a pub pass-time that any fool can be great at with a little practice and enough lager. They don't bother to play darts themselves, or watch the professionals, to get an idea of just how difficult it actually is, and nor would they, because if they did it might challenge their prejudice. The closest they will ever get to watching and understanding darts is that infamous Not the Nine O'Clock News sketch from the early 80s.
I'm not sure having darts recognised as an Olympic sport - it would almost certainly not make it into the actual Olympic program, even if it was recognised - would do much to change those people's perceptions, which are not rational to start with. It would, however, bring recognition and opportunity to those who make a living from this sport, which is certainly to be welcomed.
We fans don't need the IOC, or anyone else, to tell us that darts is a proper sport; we know that already. We do, however, feel an acute sense of injustice when a sport which requires enormous levels of focus, dedication and physical skill can be written off as a mere pub game. Olympic recognition would be a big help in remedying that injustice.
For more information on the latest campaign for Olympic recognition go to: http://www.dartsunderground.com/group/johnlowe