Olympics Were Less Strict
September 14, 1865: Edgar Lindenau Aabye is born. He was a Danish member of the Dano-Swedish tug of war team for the 1900 Summer Olympics. Their team won the gold medal. There were no opening or closing ceremonies and games were played between May 14 and October 28 as part of the 1900 World’s Fair. There were 24 nations participating with 997 athletes taking part in 85 events held in 19 different sports. Women were able to participate for the first time and there were 22 brave women there. The first Games had been held four years earlier placed in Athens. Paris was chosen as the next host.
The Sweden/Denmark team was comprised of three men from each country. They defeated the French team to win the gold. These were the only two participating teams. A team from the US had entered but was forced to withdraw because three members were involved in the final of the hammer competition. Edgar Aabye was a journalist covering the games. He worked for the Danish paper Politiken. One of the Dane members of the team became ill and Aabye was asked to take his place. The silver medal went to France, the only other team. Constantin Henriquez de Zubiera was a member of that team. He was from Haiti and was the first black medalist in Olympic history when his team took second place.
Tug of war is team game of strength with ancient roots. Egypt, Greece, and China all have ancient references to the game. Formal rules today have teams of eight pitted against each other. Their combined mass cannot exceed a maximum weight as determined by class. They align themselves on each side a rope with the center marked. There are then two markers placed four meters on either side of the center line. At the call of “pull” the contest begins. The game is won when a team pulls their opposition’s mark over the center line. The game can also end when a foul is committed which can happen if a team members sits or falls down. It is also a foul if a player’s elbows drop below knee level. The rope, which is approximately 11 centimeters in circumference, must pass under the arms.
There are a number of strategies which can be employed. Raw muscle power is important but there are a few other ways to help one’s team pull off a win. The sport was part of the Olympics from 1900 until 1920. There is also a risk of injury associated with the game. Some of these are from falling or back strain. But some are more serious with fingers, hands, and even arms being amputated. These serious injuries are often caused by people wrapping the rope around the arms but also can happen when the rope breaks. The elastic recoil from a snapped rope can cause grave injuries. In Taiwan in 1997, two men were injured by a snapping rope during a community event. They each lost an arm from the rope and both men were taken to the hospital where their arms were reattached successfully.
I will not play tug o’ war. I’d rather play hug o’ war. Where everyone hugs instead of tugs, Where everyone giggles and rolls on the rug, Where everyone kisses, and everyone grins, and everyone cuddles, and everyone wins. – Shel Silverstein
You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else. – Albert Einstein
It’s the game of life. Do I win or do I lose? One day they’re gonna shut the game down. I gotta have as much fun and go around the board as many times as I can before it’s my turn to leave. – Tupac Shakur
Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game. – Michael Jordan
Also on this day: Fort McHenry – In 1814, a poem written by a young lawyer is published.
The Earls Leave – In 1607, the Irish aristocracy is forced to flee.
Luna 2 – In 1959, the USSR sent the first man-made object to the moon.
Alleluia – In 1741, Handel completed the oratorio for Messiah.