The idea of separating the North American professional darts game from the non-professional game is not as easy as it seems. I could present many positive examples for why the creation of a separate professional game is a solid idea, but I am certain that this idea will not succeed in the near future for one specific reason. There’s a giant elephant in the room that nobody talks about.
Wikipedia sums up the meaning of an “Elephant in the Room” as, the obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. It is also defined as, the idiomatic expression that applies to an obvious problem or risk that no one wants to discuss.
The idea of splitting out the professional game into its own separate organization makes a lot of sense to me. But the Elephant in the Room that nobody wants to discuss is….there are many top players who are not (yet) willing to give up the options and benefits that they get in the ADO system.
The ADO options and benefits that these top players fear that they would give up include:
- The opportunity to play in many events in a tournament weekend
- The opportunity to win free trips to major tournaments (i.e. ADO Nationals)
- The opportunity to win free trips overseas (i.e. Masters)
- The opportunity to play for their country in international amateur events (i.e. World Cup)
Segregating the professional game away from the amateur game threatens these things. I see this as being similar to what the early professional players faced when they split away from the BDO to form the World Darts Council (now known as the PDC). When these brave players split away from the BDO, the BDO shut the door on them. Some of them didn’t like this sacrifice and they returned back to the BDO.
I think that the situation is different with the ADO, but there is a chance that external forces (i.e. WDF/BDO) could influence the ADO to exclude any new professional player affiliations from certain international events (i.e. World Masters, World Cup)
In my opinion, the ADO (not-for-profit) should continue to focus on the grass-roots development of the amateur game and a new independent (for-profit) organization needs to emerge and focus solely on the professional side of the game. But a new professional organization will never succeed as long as this elephant exists in the room.
And without a professional game, there will never be major sponsors that are willing to pump significant cash into the game, lucrative television rights, player superstars, or legions of young players with dreams of making it big in the game.