As the Olympics inch ever closer, the excitement is starting to ramp up. People can’t wait to see what happens with 2012′s version of the Dream Team in basketball, or whether the US Women’s soccer team can capture the gold this year. But you know what I’m wondering? Whether or not the US would be favorites in the tug-of-war.
Sadly, the tug-of-war (likely also known as “the sport of kings” and “the best and most important Olympic event ever”) isn’t an Olympic sport. But it was, at least until 1920 (Great Britain totally dominated). As part of a piece on other lost Olympic sports, in which he waxes nostalgic about the two-handed javelin and sixteen-man naval rowing boats with cox, Victor Mather proposes a way to bring it back:
Here’s an idea. Hold the tug on the final day and require that all members of the team be participants in other sports. An interdisciplinary tug team of weight lifters, shot putters and heavyweight boxers would be a grand example of the spirit of the Olympics. And more entertaining than a lot of current Olympic sports.
I love this idea, because it’s the exact spirit of the Olympics. The Games aren’t the World Cup, where soccer’s best is on display; it’s also not supposed to be a way for athletes to make a lot of money or become super famous. The Olympics are more about the spirit of competition than the competitions themselves. We don’t root for a different country in different sports, we root blindly for our country because that’s what you do. The games we play don’t matter; the endless war of bragging rights and smug superiority does.
So bring back the tug of war. Bring back dueling pistols — actually, maybe skip that one. But bring out some Americans, pit them against some Russians, and may the best country win by pulling the other into a kiddie pool filled with mud.
(Photo via Joseph A Ferriss III / Flickr)