If a committee of well-respected officials all agree on an idea, it’s probably a good one, right? Not exactly. Scattered throughout history are examples of very smart, strategy-minded individuals coming together to an agreement about something that turns out to be a very bad idea. In fact, there are 5 Olympic gold medals out there as a result of one bad idea; Olympic Tug of War.
From 1900-1920, the iconic playground game of Tug of War was an official event of the Summer Olympic Games. Given its chaotic nature in addition to being a newly christened Olympic sport, The New York Herald described the contest as “an object lesson in how not to do a thing.” Four years later, the United States would return and sweep the event, earning all three medals.
Due to a limited global interest in the sport, tug of war consisted of only three nations between 1900-1908, and only two during 1912- Sweden and Great Britain. This came as little surprise, considering the lack of allotted recess time at elementary schools around the world during the early 1900’s. Being the disaster that it was, the Olympic tug of war was fun while it lasted. In the end, it just goes to show you; silly things can mean a lot to people.