Monday, August 20, 2012

Bring Back Tug Of War

As an Olympic sport.  I'm on board.  You?  Everyone would watch.  No kidding.
(1908 Olympics)

From Bill Simmons' mailbag on Grantland where The Sports Guy (SG) answers questions from his lunatic fan base.  The whole mailbag is as good as this one Q&A so go read it.  You'll also get Simmons' opinion on whether the 2012 Olympic Basketball Team could have beaten the 1992 Dream Team.  The man knows basketball.

Q: Tug of War was an Olympic sport from 1900-1920. Check it out. How have they NOT brought this back? The strategic considerations are endless — and probably meaningless. I'm pretty convinced that virtually no insight or understanding is even remotely necessary to form an opinion about Tug of War. In other words: this is perfect for sports/entertainment media. Threshold decision — do you form a national team from scratch or draw from your country's Olympic delegation, with Tug of War held just before the closing ceremonies? I favor the latter. Maybe someone like Regis could be the coach. Or you could go a different direction and have Bobby Knight stand there with his hands on his knees — face beet-red — screaming "pull! pull! pull!" over and over again and then punch Ryan Reynolds or whatever squishy celebrity gets pushed onto the team by the marketing guys. All that being said, if it were solely up to me, the choice for coach would be obvious — Martin Kove. Initially, I figured you'd need a men's, women's, and mixed categories. But really, we should just let each country decide who to put on their squad and let things ride. Rope don't lie, as Rasheed Wallace (and possible Tug of War sideline reporter?) might say. Finally, I would like to see a throwback USA-USSR match. For whatever reason, the IOC decided to dump Tug of War in 1920, just as the Bolsheviks were consolidating their grip on power in Russia, depriving the world of decades of American-Soviet matches that would have made the Cuban missile crisis look like an episode of Who Wants To Be a Millionaire. At the very least, there wouldn't be any boycotting. The 1980 hockey team is a footnote if, also that year, the Americans had gone to Moscow and beat the Soviets at Tug of War — on their own commie soil. There's just no way you boycott when Tug of War is on the program. Put simply — the absence of Tug of War for the past century might very well be one of the greatest travesties in Olympic history. Easy as it may be to hang your national pride on the performance of a bunch of pre-teen gymnasts once every four years, there is nothing more fundamental to national identity as Tug of War. It is the consummate sport for a global competition in which it is still okay to make distinctions solely based on nationality. Actually, it's not okay to do this, especially if you have a Twitter account. Which makes Tug of War all the more important. I know the chances of this email seeing the light of day are as slim as Tug of War ever making it back to the Olympics. But if there is any place where futile, mildly interesting, and extraordinarily dorky bouts of activism can surface briefly before being buried beneath a 5,000-word dissection of the last episode of Downton Abbey, it's Grantland. Tug of War in 2016.
— Scott Stone, Washington, D.C.

SG: I don't know if that was the greatest Mailbag question of all time, but it's certainly on the short list. Anyone growing up in the 1970s remembers those epic tug-of-war battles that concluded both The Superstars and Battle of the Network Stars — in both cases, wild horses couldn't have dragged me away from the TV when they were happening.
Here's how I think it could work: On the night of the Closing Ceremony, the two countries ranked no. 1 and no. 2 for total medals have a tug-of-war showdown. Ten people on each team — five male, five female — that have to come from 10 different sports/events. In other words, you couldn't stack your team with three weight lifters or whatever. Oh, and everyone participating in the tug-of-war HAD to have won gold medals. And there's a weight limit per team — you can't exceed, say, 2,000 pounds for your 10 athletes. So let's say our team ended up being Kevin Love, Jordan Burroughs, Ryan Lochte, Ashton Eaton, David Boudia, Missy Franklin, Allyson Felix, Misty May-Treanor, Candace Parker and team captain Abby "I'm a total badass and there's no way we're losing this" Wambach. And we were battling 10 Chinese gold medalists for the tug-of-war gold. Um … you'd turn the channel during this? Scott Stone, you're an American hero.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yeah, bring it back! I enjoyed the two vintage videos. Howard is a trip lol, still got to love him! dm