Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The strange but wonderful world of "Dartball"

I was introduced to the game of competitive "dartball" about 20 years ago through the Lutheran Church I once belonged to as a way to promote fellowship amongst the men of the church. The best fast-explanation of dartball (not to be confused with the Ben Stiller movie about the competitive game of DODGEball) I can give you is to say: "Imagine if you were to combine baseball with lawn darts or horseshoes or bowling and replace any presence of a ball with a pile of sharp 7" darts?" Then add to that two teams lined up along the 20' path to the dartboard who are constantly yelling things at you to distract your ability to throw with any kind of accuracy.

What dartball does not include (as one might expect or hope) is the presence of alcohol, swearing, mean-spirited attacks on an individual, crazy weather conditions (the game is played inside of a church basement mostly) or any female players. The tradition has been long held as a men's league through the church and maintains the established guidelines of so many men's recreational activities of their time (just as many golf courses have traditions where men and women have designated days where they can golf.) Ironically, no protective clothing for the men serving as umpires (standing on either side of the board and making judgement calls on whether the dart was "safe" or "out") exists either, which requires cat-like reflexes should an errant dart come your way.

My point is not to pick on the tradition as being outdated or in any way unconstitutional. But the fact remains that many of the men playing this game can either have a great night throwing darts at a board that looks like a baseball diamond or be so frustrated with their performance that they need psychiatric help before they go home to their families. This is where commiserating with other guys from your church help to put this all in perspective: it's just a silly game.

I recently sketched these as a way to recall the days of glory when I used to play, now that I am far removed from those feelings of inadequacy from many awful nights at bat. I can laugh about it now. This sketch was created with a Sharpie Fine Point pen, grey Prismacolors, and black Verithin pencil.  
The graphic below helps to explain the architecture of the Dartball board and the equipment used. 

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