Tug of war made the program for every Olympics between 1900 and 1920. The sport was played in pretty much the same way you remember from grade-school field days, but it was also a magnet for Olympic controversies.
The 1904 gold medal–winning American squad was ostensibly representing the Milwaukee Athletic Club, which was terrific until further research established that the team was actually composed of ringers recruited from Chicago. Scandal struck again at the 1908 Games when the American squad protested that the police boots worn by the British pullers from the Liverpool Police team were equipped with illegal cleats for extra traction. When the protest failed, the American pullers left the Games in a huff. All told the British teams grabbed five medals to the Americans' three before the sport fell off the program following the 1920 Games.
See Also: 12 Sports Cut From the Olympics