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DARTS, R.I.P

– WHY THE GREAT BRITISH PUB INSTITUTION COULD BE CONSIGNED TO HISTORY WITHIN A GENERATION –

While drinkers at the Queen Vic and Rovers Return are often seen enjoying a game of darts, a new report published today claims that this beloved pub institution faces the genuine threat of extinction.

Carried out amongst over 1,000 regular pub-goers1, the study reveals some shocking statistics:

Just one in ten Brits has enjoyed a game of darts in the past year
By comparison, only five years ago, 41% enjoyed a game of arrows with a pint
4 in 10 young men (in their twenties) have never thrown a dart in their lives
39% of young men have no idea what a bullseye is worth
Only just over half2 (53%) of British boozers currently has a dart board

Leading online bookmaker Blue Square, who commissioned the study, is backing the campaign to Save Our Darts (www.saveourdarts.com) which aims to have another 10,000 dart boards in pubs by 2017.

The study blames the game?s decline on the rise of the gastro-pub. Today, the area once reserved for the oche is now filled by dining tables and comfortable sofas for customers to lounge about on.

Darts legend Phil ?The Power? Taylor comments: ?Darts has given me so many great opportunities and memories. Unless we get behind the campaign to Save Our Darts and encourage more landlords to install a dart board, the game really could be consigned to the history books just 30 years from now.?

The ?Blue Square ? Save Our Darts? report also shows that today?s drinker prefers a pub with adventurous food (33%), extensive beer and wine lists (27%), comfy sofas (15%) and good music (14%) over the chance to enjoy a game of darts (1%).

Such has been the change in the lifestyle of today?s young males that over a third (34%) claim they?d prefer an evening at the cinema over the more traditional bloke?s night out of a few pints and a game of darts with their mates (18%).

As well as the rise of the gastro-pub, another reason for the drop in interest in the game has been the dartboard?s disappearance from the birthday lists of teenage boys who are more readily seduced by the excitement of computer-simulated sports. Revealingly, 61% of British men say they would not even consider buying a dart board for a younger relative.

But it?s not just young men who are turning their backs on a great British pub tradition. Only 3% of pub drinkers over 50 have played within the last year. And over three quarters (77%) of those over 50 admit to playing far less darts then they did in the past. Such an apparent lack of interest is having a major impact on the traditional pub darts team. Only 1% of drinkers questioned for the study have played in a pub tournament in the past twelve months.

The ?Blue Square – Save Our Darts? report fears that the game?s decline will have both social and sporting consequences. The pub-based sport has always been a great leveller, particularly between generations, with fathers and sons bonding over a game and a pint a familiar sight for more than a hundred years.

In fact, the report shows that 66% of Brits are nostalgic for the sport and would play if they had the chance and their local pub reinstalled a dart board.

Professional Darts Corporation Chief Executive Tim Darby said: “Darts is now enjoying a real boom in terms of crowds and televised audiences, but increasingly less people are able to take part in their own pubs. It would be great if the current interest of the public could be reflected by pubs giving their punters the chance to take part in this great British sport.

The solution is simple and it would be fantastic to see landlords restoring dartboards to their rightful place in pubs across the country.”

To join Phil ?The Power? Taylor in the campaign to Save Our Darts, log on to SaveOurDarts.com.

1. Research was conducted amongst a representative sample of 1,006 adults aged 18-65 between 9th and 15th February 2007.

2. Source: The Publican Market Report. Oct 2006

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