TOUCHING OTHER BASES; Pull, pull, pull

Tug of wars are the stuff of picnics, college weekends, and made-for-TV events, and not of major athletic ompetitions. That, at least, is what people assume until they learn about the US Amateur Tug-of-War Association Inc. in Madison, Wisc.

The association, which is known to insiders by the Indian-sounding acronym USATOWA, will be holding a National Tug-of-War Pull at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb., this Saturday. The purpose is to select teams from two weight classes (640 kilo and 720 kilo) to represent the United States at the inaugural World Games in Santa Clara, Calif., later this summer.

The World Games have been created primarily as a safety net for sports unable to land in the Olympics, such as baseball, roller skating, and karate. Tug-of-war, though a non-Olympic sport, was on the Olympic agenda until struck from the games after 1920. The US won the event in 1900 and 1904, with the Germans, British, and Swedes capturing the gold thereafter.

Tug of wars have some pretty respectable company on the Olympic scrap heap, including golf, tennis, Rugby, and lacrosse.

Currently 17 nations belong to the sport's international federation. The US association, a three-year-old babe in the woods, faces an uphill battle in attracting participants in this sports-saturated country. The past two national championships have attracted teams almost exclusively from the Midwest. American tuggers would like to establish a broader base on national participation, since the US will host the 1984 world championships.

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