Chris Mason insists darts must keep characters to avoid becoming sterile

Mason gives his take on the gamesmanship debate (credit:Live Darts)

Chris Mason hopes that darts bosses don’t “sterilise” the sport amid speculation of yellow and red cards being introduced.

The ITV pundit is adamant that darts needs strong characters and that the controversy over the Grand Slam final between Gerwyn Price and Gary Anderson is good for the game.

But Mason, part of ITV’s team for the Ladbrokes Players Championship in Minehead, is concerned about oche discipline as insiders believe yellow and red cards could be introduced in 2019.

He said: “Sport genuinely needs characters. Whether it gets a little bit close to the line in terms of how gamesmanship is interpreted is another thing. 

“Barry Hearn said he thought that a player can’t go in the exclusion zone until the other guys has got his darts out and stepped out himself. If that is the case then the Darts Regulation Authority are going to be very busy.

“The beauty of our sport is that it’s quick, fast and full of action and it captivates the viewers and the audience there live because of its tempo.

“There’s nothing new about celebrating. Alan Evans was the most notorious one and his gamesmanship as was Eric Bristow. They are heroes in the game.

“We have to remember that Gerwyn comes from a very volatile sport of rugby which is played with a lot of aggression. It relies on adrenaline and sometimes that spills over into his game.

“I think 50 per cent is gamesmanship and 50 per cent just natural because even when he first started, he played with a certain amount of aggression.

“But it’s a fine line. Where does gamesmanship become unsporting? But I don’t think this incident really affects the sport’s credibility.

“I’m not sure yellow and red cards are needed. The players should know there’s a certain way to behave.”

Mason, 48, also hopes that the players can be allowed to still be entertainers like the characters in the past who paved the way for darts to become the global sporting phenomenon it is today.

He added: “I’m a huge fan of Ronnie O Sullivan, Jimmy White and Alex Higgins, likewise Eric Bristow. I love the game of snooker but when Ronnie’s not in the tournament, there isn’t that feeling about it.

“We don’t want to sterilise the sport. We’ve got more and more a problem that pubs are being food pubs  or they are throwing out the dartboards.

“It’s massively important going forward that we don’t sterilise these players. They are working class guys coming from working class backgrounds that most people can associate with. If we make it too robotic it will go down that route that snooker went down. Which is why it lost its popularity.

“I just pray that we don’t make it too sterile. Give the players enough education. Make them aware of what is and isn’t acceptable on the oche.”


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Chris Mason insists darts must keep characters to avoid becoming sterile

Chris Mason hopes that darts bosses don’t “sterilise” the sport amid speculation of yellow and red cards being introduced.

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