The big debate: Darts – is it actually a sport?

The debate over whether darts qualifies as a sport has been a subject of heated discussion among sports fans for many a year. Whilst many strongly believe that darts is a legitimate sport, others argue that it isn’t athletic or physical enough – compared to the more traditional sports. 

So, who is right or wrong? Well, to determine whether or not darts can actually be classified as a sport, there are several factors to consider – its history, competitive nature, skill requirements, and whether it is recognised by sporting organisations.

The History

Darts, as we know it today, originated in the United Kingdom during the late 19th century. It was initially played as a pub game, which is how many still see it, but it quickly gained popularity and evolved into a more competitive activity. 

Today, it is a well-established and widely considered to be a recognised sport with professional leagues, tournaments and a devoted fan base. It also gets plenty of TV coverage, especially during major tournaments.


Furthermore, darts has garnered recognition from plenty of sporting organisations and governing bodies. The Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) and the British Darts Organisation (BDO) are two of the most prominent organisations that oversee professional darts competitions. These are responsible for enforcing rules and regulations to maintain the integrity of the sport. In addition, if you check out any sportsbook, you’ll certainly find darts betting odds – implying that practically every sports-oriented company would consider it to be a real sport.


Another of the key elements that define darts as a sport is its competitive nature. Darts competitions involve players of all different skill levels, coming from all over the world, competing against one another to win. 

Darts players need to demonstrate precision, accuracy, and strategic thinking to consistently hit their targets. The mental aspect of darts is crucial, as they need to keep focus and composure at all times, even when under serious pressure.


True, it may not be athletic, but it does require a lot of skill – and skill requirements play a huge role in determining whether or not this can be categorised as a sport. In darts, to be successful, a player needs exceptional hand-eye coordination and precise throwing techniques if they are to consistently hit the target. They also require the ability to read the game, adjust their strategies, and capitalise on their opponents’ mistakes if they want to be successful in the game.

A Non-Physical Sport

So, we could just argue that this is simply a non-physical sport right? Critics of darts as a sport generally argue that it isn’t athletic enough to be a sport, especially compared with traditional sports like football, basketball, or tennis. Unlike these sports, darts doesn’t involve running, jumping, or even getting out of breath – no physical exertion at all. Instead, it relies solely on hand and arm movements, which let’s face it, isn’t too strenuous.

That being said, sports come in various forms and can encompass a whole range of different activities. While physicality is definitely a defining aspect of some sports, others prioritise mental agility, strategy and skill. Obviously, darts falls into the latter category – as do sports such as snooker, pool and some might even argue golf.

Another factor to consider is the influence of external factors on the game, such as the atmosphere in the venue, the presence of an audience and noise levels. Some argue that these could potentially disrupt the players’ focus and undermine the sport’s integrity.

On the other hand, supporters of darts might well argue that the ability to perform under such conditions adds another challenge to the game. Top darts players have to cultivate mental fortitude and resilience to thrive in these types of environments, making the sport even more compelling to watch – there’s no such thing as a quiet and reflective darts tournament.

A Sport for the People

Ultimately, whether you agree or not, darts is undoubtedly a sport by definition. It encompasses all the essential elements of a sport – competition, skill and vital recognition by governing bodies. It also has a devoted following of players and fans. It may certainly differ from more traditional physical sports in terms of athleticism, but this is all about precision, mentality and strategy.

Ultimately, whether you consider darts a sport or not may come down to personal perceptions and definitions of what constitutes a sport. However, that being said, the popularity and widespread recognition of darts as a competitive activity demonstrates that it has earned its rightful place in the world of sports and it’s going nowhere. A true sport for the people.