Lawn darts

Originally written for eVent! [ep] magazine on 09/22/06.

Summer is ending. This evening I wore a sweater out, as the chill was in the air. As we all know with the end of summer comes the end of lawn dart season. Putting away my lawn dart kit in the garage I'd like to take this moment to look back on what was a remarkable season in what many of us in the lawn dart community call "The Poor Man's Cricket".

As you most likely are aware this year lawn darts is celebrating its eighth hundred year as an organized sport and the international lawn darts league Projectiles Hefted With Force Toss or PHWFT (it makes more sense in its original Latin). The Romans brought the game to North America when they first settled in what is now New York after traveling to the New World in their airships in 17 BC. From there the game spread amongst the indigenous peoples of North America after the official rules were eventually reintroduced to Europeans when it was traded for Hudson Bay blankets and Ann Rice novels.

Canada of course became on of the world powers of lawn darts, battling with the Soviet Union for lawn darting supremacy. Who can forget the summer of 1972 when we all waited by the radio to hear if Team Canada could beat the Soviets in a best of seven lawn dart challenge? Well I don't remember it because I wasn't alive, but the moment that Walter Henderson put the last yellow dart into the target hoop is etched in every Canadian's memory. People like me who were too young to experience it via the CBC coverage have seen the dramatization on the history shorts that the government does, and also when they re-run the footage on TSN every so often.

Sadly Canada is slowly loosing its dominance in lawn darts as fewer and fewer young Canadians are entering youth leagues, instead flocking to sports such as soccer and the three man bobsled which are sports that require less equipment than lawn darts since they started as hobo sports and slowly worked their way into the lives of the non-hobo community. As such it's important all patriotic Canadians to force their children into lawn dart youth leagues, so we can once again be the best in the world at something.

Now below are five tips to being a better lawn darts player. These will help improve your game, whether you're hoping to turn pro or just out on the course for a recreational game with some business associates before closing the big sale.

- The pointed end goes into the ground: I know it seems obvious but knowing the fundamentals is incredibly vital in a complex game like lawn darts.

- Visualize the target: It's true that lawn darts was initially created to teach young children to hunt very slow mammals, and so it can be useful to visualize that as you are playing. Some of the best players such as Paul "One Eye" Hewson like to visualize that they too are hunting small animals as they throw their darts. I, being an animal rights advocate, prefer to visualize the dart piercing the chest of a Keebler Elf.

- Gravity is your friend: we spend our lives and our NASA research money trying to find ways to wrestle gravity into submission. In lawn darts though gravity is your friend. Learn how to be one with gravity, and you will never have trouble getting your darts to fall to the ground again.

- Don't take drugs: sadly a lot of the young people see professional lawn darts players using steroids to beef up. The trouble is it hurts the game because fans are beginning to feel that there's no longer any true integrity left in the sport. Also if you take steroids you may never be able to urinate again, so there's that to think about.

- Since most modern games of lawn darts are played during the day it is rarely affective to suddenly shout out, "Oh my god there's a vampire!" during your opponent's shot. Most players therefore no longer use this famed tactic of Rusty Conner in this day and age. However if you're quick on your feet you can substitute the word "vampire" for something more likely. My personal favorite is "pineapple" because it confuses most players.