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