This year for the 4th of July, a unique opportunity has arisen via the THS Warrior Boosters Club before the fireworks show at Coy Burnett Stadium.
A good old-fashioned Tug of War competition has been scheduled for 5 p.m. on the north end of the stadium, with a $50 entry fee per team of four. Team members can be male, female or a combination. There are also two combined weight divisions of up to 1,000 and less than 600 pounds, so not everyone needs to bring their huskiest friend. Although I am available should anyone need the “support” on their team.
There’s no memorable American connection to the history of the sport, but on the 4th of July, what can be more patriotic than a bunch of Americans getting together for a good cause and conquering a sport that was once very popular among the British? Plus, after the cash prizes are awarded to the winners, the remaining funds benefit our high school teams. So it’s pretty much as American as you can get.
The history of tug of war is sort of muddled. It’s one of those things that historians have found references to back in ancient Egyptian, Greek, Chinese and other societies. It's been used to train warriors (fitting) and even been through machinations that didn’t involve a rope at all but a human chain of hand grips as the Greeks enjoyed it. The Vikings used to tug on animal skins as preparation for their raids and battles. Man, ancient societies were rough. Those of you who believe you were born in the wrong century just remember these were the sorts of things they did for fun. Meanwhile, we complain when we get a callous from golf.
Ancient history aside, the sport was once in the Olympics. Each games from 1900 to 1920 featured tug of war. In 1904, the United States took home gold (of course we did) thanks to the strength of the fellas from the Milwaukee Athletic Club. We also swept silver and bronze. Of course, four years later Great Britain swept the medals and then interest dwindled in the final two games and the sport ultimately was replaced on the docket.
These days the sport is part of the World Games and has world championships biannually sanctioned by the Tug of War International Federation. Yes, that’s a thing, and it’s based in Wisconsin. Maybe there’s more American influence than I thought. Unfortunately, our local event isn’t sanctioned so you glory-seekers won’t receive any international points. You’ll just have to settle for local bragging rights and the peace of mind that you did some good with your financial contribution. Plus, with live music, some food vendors and the fireworks at 9 p.m., it’s the perfect way to spend your Independence Day evening.
I can see this becoming a Tehachapi tradition — the 4th, some friends, a test of strength and of course the potential of being crowned a champion. Especially the first time around, nothing is more prestigious than being the first title holder in a long line of successors. I hope this becomes a regular part of everyone’s holiday plans. Outside of fireworks, a spectacle like this is probably the best free entertainment available on the holiday.
Registration forms and full rules are available at M&M Sports on Tucker Road with entries being accepted until the start of the event on the 4th. I encourage you to get yours in early so you can mentally prepare for this battle as you channel the ancient warrior inside you. The present-day Warriors will certainly appreciate it.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.