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In North America, Darts Climbing in Popularity Among Youth

20 Mar, 2015

By: Tracey Schelmetic
Sport Gaining a Groundswell of Support Among So-Called 'Non-Traditional Athletes'

As indoor sports go, darts may not cause anyone to break much of a sweat, but it’s a great option for those interested in activity, teamwork and competition but who may not be fitness-inclined, at least not in the traditional sense.  

The sport is wildly popular in the UK at both the adult and youth level, and is beginning to catch up in North America. In this respect, it’s similar to archery, bass fishing, shooting and bowling – sports that are gaining a wider appeal among a population of non-traditional athletes.

Some youth darts organizations in the U.S. are governed by the 30-year-old American Darts Organization (ADO). The ADO is, in turn, governed by the World Darts Federation, and reports membership that averages 250 clubs on a yearly basis representing roughly 50,000 members. Alternatively, the international National Darts Association (NDA), the official sanctioning body for the sport of soft-tip electronic darts, operates a chapter in the U.S. The NDA sanctions 46,000 players annually in eight countries and members participate in dart leagues in over 10,000 locations worldwide.

Across the northern border, a recent three-day provincial championship tournament for Ontario tournament attracted more than 200 kids ages 12 to 18 from across Ontario to St. Catharines. Participants played constantly through a round robin tournament held in a local Holiday Inn. Winners of the provincial tournament will go on to represent Ontario at the national championships, and for an opportunity to compete abroad at world championships.

Winners of state and provincial tournaments have a chance to participate in the PDC World Youth Championship, youth darts tournament organized by the Professional Darts Corporation for darts players aged between 14 and 21. The tournament, which is held annually, was first introduced in 2010 and is sponsored by darts manufacturer Unicorn.

Darts Ontario youth director Marjorie Allardyce told the St. Catharines Standard that while darts doesn’t have the profile of other youth sports like hockey or football, it does draw the interest of many young people.

“First of all, it’s inexpensive. You can start with a $20 board in your own home,” she said. “Other sports like hockey can be very expensive.”

Learning in darts can also be applied across academic subjects, Allardyce noted.

“Kids learn and improve their math,” she said.

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