Tug of War

This fun sport of ‘tug of war’ played at school, or camp activities have been around for decades. You and your parents or grandparents for sure played in a tug of war event. A simple contest in which two teams pull at opposite ends of a rope until one drags the other over a central line. There has been tug of war competitions in many European countries going back to 1500s. In America and European countries, there was tug of war clubs; for men and women to participate.

The activity was even added as an Olympic sport from 1900 to 1920. There were two teams of 8 individuals each to be in the Olympics games. It has been part of the track & field athletics program. The 1900 Olympics saw the United States withdraw their team because three of their team were involved in the hammer throwing event. The first tug of war Olympic gold medal went to a combined team from Sweden and Denmark after they defeated France in the final. Not many nations sent athletics for the tug of war at the Olympics. The United States did much better at the 1904 Olympics winning Gold, Silver and Bronze in tug of war. Great Britain always had a good team at each Olympics and they also won the most medals over those years. It was not part of the Olympics after 1920.

Anytime the sport is played, it is not just a contest of brute strength, it did contain some strategy. There may also have been some cheating going on, as there were occasions when one team would accuse the other team of using spikes to keep them from moving when they were being pulled.

So now you can say if you ever played tug of war, you did once an Olympics sport.

Photo: 1904 Olympics with USA in tug of war.

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