Tug-of-War has a very long history that shows up on a 4,000 year old tomb in Sakkara, Egypt. It depicts teams of 3 men pitted against each other. I wonder what the prize was?
This competition / sport appears to have been carried over into many civilizations, often under ritual forms. In Korea local villages used tug-of-war to settle disputes for centuries using a straw rope. Some civilizations used very long ropes with as many of 100 people on each side. To celebrate the fall season, a team might consist of females on one side and males on the other. If the “ladies” won it was symbolic of a good harvest.
The modern version of tug-of-war has descended from sailors on British naval ships, and later those on trading ships traveling from one British port to another. The sport was used not only as competition, but as a physical training with pulling ropes for sails. It kept sailors in shape. In India, the British army started competing on grass, continued the sport in England. When soldiers left the army they took the sport to the Police Forces and Fire Brigades.
Tug-of-War became an Olympic sport in Paris 1900. After the 1920 Olympics, the International Committee took several sports out of the competitions and Tug-of-War was discontinued. In 1981, it became a part of the World Games. It has an international event with teams gathering from all over the whole.
The Sacramento Games added tug-of-war to its list of competitions in 1995. For several years the competitors represented teams from local Police and Fire Departments. In 2015, we created the competition for the high schools that represent the JROTC programs for the Marines, Navy, Army, and Air Force. Our rules are the International Association rules except we have 6 pullers instead of 8.