The Bar Sports debate

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Do pool and darts count as sports? Surely a bar is a place for getting drunk and lazing around, not playing sport! Are bar sportsmen just competitive alcoholics? Here at Lancaster, we have a thriving college bar sports scene, with leagues in pool and darts for both men and women for every college. Here’s a brief insight into why you should be taking us seriously!

Contrary to what you might expect, we are certainly not all alcoholics. In fact, some get into playing pool and darts to escape drinking culture. If your mates seem intent on getting paralytic, playing a game is a means of doing something productive in a bar, instead of descending into drunken stupor. We all enjoy a drink or two, but being so wasted you lose your game? Not cool.

But how can pool and darts count as sport when zero fitness is required? With physical prowess and stature offering no advantage, we bar sportsfolk rely solely on skill to beat our opponents. It’s a lot more intense than you might imagine. And although we have teams, our matches are one-on-one, adding monumental pressure. You really do need a pint after all that – and conveniently enough, you’re in a bar!

There is, however, a unique social element to bar sports due to its inclusive nature, says college pool captain Molly Chambers. Everybody likes to pick up a cue for a game every now and then, even if they’re rubbish at pool. She points out that despite lack of physical exertion, there is a high level of mental stamina required to win a professional pool match, with careful planning and quick initiative essential for every move.

The future of bar sports, however, looks somewhat unstable. With many local pubs being converted into swanky gastro pubs, pool tables and darts boards are becoming increasingly scarce. In my hometown in the distant South West, to my absolute outrage, our pool table count has halved in the last two years.

Is there an element of snobbery keeping bar sports from having a legitimate sport status? Nick ‘Flame of the North’ Dearman, who plays darts for Furness agrees that darts and similar sports are often unfairly looked down upon. However, anyone who plays can agree that we have our fair share of blood, sweat and tears.

Due to declining popularity among youth, passion for bar sports is often inherited. Nick’s dedication to darts was inspired by his Gran, who always had a dartboard in her kitchen. Similarly, my mother fuelled my passion for pool – she actually captained the Lonsdale team here at Lancaster, back in the day. I’ve got a lot to live up to!

We are lucky at Lancaster University to have such an array of venues to keep these sports alive. Our leagues are extremely popular, and I hope they remain so. In my opinion, we need to start taking bar sports seriously, to prevent them declining altogether. Especially those of us not in Pendle – we need to step up! We can’t let Pendle win ALL the bar sports leagues! So why not head to your college bar and sign up?

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