Women in the PDC
Few were happy when the PDC decided to scrap the walk on girls, but life goes on. Darts is a fun as ever and this is not a big talking point any more.
We were never really told why they took this decision, although we had our opinions and for a while it was the talk of the town, the nation even.
But let’s say it was about equality, let’s say the PDC was taking an active part in trying to raise the profile of women in the sport as participants in the game itself rather than just as decoration.
Granted, you could be forgiven for thinking that the presence of walk on girls was nothing to do with this and that there is no reason we could have both women players and girls accompanying them to the oche before they play.
You would probably have a fair point.
But we have to look forward, and even if people are still just as keen on D&C as they were before, darts has changed, and as they say, you can’t stand in the way of progress.
So what exactly is this progress?
Darts has an advantage over most other sports in the sense that physical strength is not the main advantage (or any advantage at all) in becoming a good player. Therefore unlike rugby, football etc, in which there could probably never be the two genders competing side by side, we are able to allow female darts players to ply their trade in the same competitions as their male counterparts.
That is why the recent decision to guarantee two spots to the girls is a pretty smart move, on so many levels.
Firstly, women playing a sport with a massive global appeal can only be good for the profile of the sport. Even if, as is likely, the two qualifiers fail to get past the early rounds, there is likely to be a new audience watching and in turn, thousands more people inspired to pick up some arrows and play. Millions already play, but there is always room for more. This will add value to tournaments, perhaps less so in the UK and Holland, but in China and the emerging Eastern marketplaces.
Secondly, as I suggested, it will make darts one of the few sports in which women are seen to be competing on an equal footing. I accept that in the PDC this is already the case, but most years the Ally Pally hosts an all male tournament with mostly the usual suspects getting through. And while this is unlikely to change in the first instance, who knows but this years World Championships will be the start of something special, and who could say that within a decade or so, a new female darting superstar will be found?
Many would argue that this is still not a probability. Anastassiya herself played in the PDC and while she won admirers and made friends, she subsequently moved back to the BDO where she felt she would have more chance of winning things. The BDO deserves credit for the Ladies Tournament and the top female players may decide, for the time being, that they are better off playing in that. However what we are talking in 2018, is taking the chance to get the girls making their mark in the more significant PDC, rather than seeing them win anything of note.
It is beyond difficult to imagine Momo beating MVG or Deta Hedman taking Peter Wright to a deciding leg. Sorry, girls. Yet if Momo is DRAWN against MVG, however well she does, darts can only gain from this. China is an emerging giant of the game and Phil Taylor himself spoke of the new generation of talent coming from China. So why should they all be men? Why shouldn’t Momo get the chance to help her country produce players who are good enough to challenge for majors, even if they do turn out to be male players? In any case, Momo must be the most sponsored player in the game, it speaks volumes for how highly her country values her participation.
If, like me, you are expecting to see the two women players bow out in the Preliminary Round then so be it. What we have now is not a chance to find new champions, at least not in the foreseeable future, but the chance to make darts the only (that I am aware of) major international sport which is fully inclusive, and which does not divide people into categories because it thinks that they need that little bit of extra help to do well.
Some may say that automatically granting two places to women is akin to positive discrimination and that they should get there on merit. Fair enough, but come December, I will be particularly interested to watch, maybe no more than usual, but mindful that darts is readying itself to appeal to yet millions more people, precisely how we keep moving forwards and not standing still.