In the game of tug-of-war, they don’t wear gloves because of course they don’t. Because, the players of this ancient test of strength will tell you, they are all a little crazy.

And dehydration.

It’s all a fun part, or so they tell me.

I met the German co-ed tug-of-war team at BJCC on Wednesday. We were watching a corfball match between Chinese Taipei and the Czech Republic. What are the rules of corfball? I bent down and asked the Germans. They didn’t even know. The corfball, its corf standing 11.4829 feet above the ground, is like a mix between basketball and the final Frisbee.

Corfball is a curious athletic endeavor invented by the Dutch. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about corfball after watching a couple of games, but what makes me happy about this game is that the teams are co-educated, with four men and four women on each side. We don’t have many co-ed sports in the United States and I’m not sure why. Maybe we can join the tug-of-war teams after all the World Games.

Tug-of-war, unlike corfball, is much easier to understand. There are two teams of eight pullers and one rope. Tug-of-war, the game I want to watch the most at The World Games, starts on the UAB track and field on Thursday and runs through Saturday. The men of the world pull first on Thursday. Women pull on Fridays. Mixed teams compete on Saturdays.

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World games are the tug-of-war Super Bowl. That’s what they tell me. It doesn’t get any bigger. Team Co-ed Germany’s day against Sweden starts on Saturday at 2 p.m. I will be a man holding signs with inspiring words of encouragement.

“Pull hard.”

“Don’t let go of the rope.”

“Catch it but don’t tear it.”

“Tug then chug.”

“Yanke it all.”

“Vulcan has a lot of charm in this village.”

Has Team Co-ed Tug-of-War Germany enjoyed all the great food around Birmingham? That big no. Team Co-Aid Tug-of-War Germany spent the day on Tuesday losing weight.

Each co-educational team weighs less than 580 kilograms, which is 1,278.68 pounds. Tug-of-war international rockstar Germany’s Raphael Kunz was running around UAB on Tuesday wearing a rain jacket.

How was that

“I ran three kilometers and lost two kilos,” he said.

I just wanted to give him a cheese biscuit and a gift card for a free manicure.

If you live in or around Birmingham and you haven’t seen the Tug-of-War Super Bowl at UAB, how can you consider yourself a sports fan? A match can consist of 20 to 30 bridges and one bridge can move forward. Last year, Germany and Sweden had 18 minutes at a time.

All in all, quarters in football only last 15 minutes.

While we were watching corfball and wondering what was going on, team co-educator Kunz from Germany told me all about the tug-of-war. An incredibly nice man, Kunz is from the ancient Bavarian village of Kempton. It is near the Alps in southern Germany. Kempton, according to ancient texts, is not just overgrown. It may be the oldest city in Germany. It is so old that the second emperor of Rome, Tiberius Caesar, was a young soldier when he and his brother conquered it.

Kempton has changed hands over the years. Lots of tugs and pulls, someone would say. Kunj knows nothing about all this. He’s an IT business manager and he loves to snowboard in the Alps when he’s not roped.

Who are the best pullers in the world? Kunj Swiss says.

Why are the Swiss so good?

“I don’t know,” Kunj said. “I want to know. Switzerland is a country of tug of war. “

And powdered hot chocolate with even tiny marshmallows.

What is the most common injury in a tug-of-war?

“There are no injuries because there is no contact with the enemy,” Kunz said. You know what I mean? “

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About that … From the look of Kunz’s hand, something was lost in the translation about Tug-of-War being an injury-free game. Pulling tug-of-war, ready to show hands. They are like their trophies and tools. In real life, if you ever meet a tug-of-war tug-of-war, trust me and pause to check their paws.

Listen, I don’t know how to say this. They’re rough, and Kunz is a world champion heavyweight puller, so his hands are more shiny.

Naturally, he let me touch them and now I can honestly say that I am holding the hand of one of the best tugs in the world. The calluses of the arch are as thick as the bark of an orange, but as rough as the leather of an old shoe. He started pulling in 2019.

But why

“There was a competition in my village,” Kunj said. “I see it, and I join.”

How was it in the early days?

“It really hurt,” he said. His hands were bleeding “often”.

“Maybe I have some pictures,” Kunj said as he scrolled through his iPhone.

In preparation for The World Games, Kunz and his team pulled the ropes and practiced every day for almost the entire year. Why do this? This is not a professional game. There is no money in tug-of-war.

“It’s good for my back,” he said.

German humor is subtle. He used to call it a joke because he sits at the computer all day. What does the IT department, returning home, think about Kunj and his madness of tug-of-war? He puts his hand over his face and smiles. That means his co-stars think Kunz is crazy.

I don’t speak much German, but I know the word crazy. The people of Kempton’s ancient Bavarian village Kunz vOmission. I call him a friend right now.

Kunz told me everything I wanted to know about Tug-of-War except one thing. They do not wear gloves in tug-of-war because over time the hands of the wearer change into the hands of human catchers. Pullers can use wax or resin on their hands, and that’s where Team Co-Ed Tug-of-War Germany can benefit. They have something special harz They put their hands up before the competition. Harz For German tug-of-war pullers, I can say the best, there is something like pine tar for baseball players. Kunj says it comes from trees.

How do they make it, I asked.

“It’s a mystery,” Kunj said. “I don’t even know it.”

Like the rules of corfball.

As it turned out, only one man in the ancient German city of Kempton knew the recipe for a special tug-of-war sap. He cooks down. It gets really thick. I.e., thick-thick, like the southern accent of Cordova thick. The harz Birmingham is here, and that team is a secret weapon for co-ed tug-of-war Germany.

“It helps you hold the rope,” Kunz said, “and it’s good for the arm side.”

Tug then chug, all. Tug then chug.

Joseph Goodman is a columnist And author for Alabama Media Group “We want Bama: a season of hope and Nick Saban’s ‘final team’.”. You can find him on Twitter JoeGoodmanJr.

The hands of tug-of-wear wearers are as thick as the leather of old shoes.Joseph Goodman