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Think about the craziest tradition your school has. At Auburn, they TP Toomer’s Corner. At ASU, they have the Undie Run. At the University of Michigan, they have the Mud Bowl.
But sometimes, the craziest traditions come from the most unexpected places.
Enter Hope College, a picturesque, Christian, liberal arts school in Michigan known for having the best attendance in Division 3 sports in the nation, for being very Dutch, and not much else. Not much else, that is, unless you count The Pull.
At one point, “SportsCenter” dubbed The Pull “the mother of all tug-o-wars,” a moniker that doesn’t even begin to describe the event, which started in 1898 and has been going on for more than 116 years. Today, The Pull is one of the most anticipated events of the year for the entire college, where there is even a special chapel service that is held the Friday before Pull Day.
The Pull started off rather simply: there were 23 sophomores on one side of the Black River, and 16 freshmen on the other side. There was a single length of rope between them and they wanted to make a game out it. Fast-forward a century and the two teams, Odd Year and Even Year, have uniforms, rallying cries, secret techniques, and a whole mess of bad blood for the other team.
That hatred stems from the insanity of the actual event, a 40- against 40-person tug-o-war that, since 1977, has been limited to ONLY three freaking hours. Beyond that, the rope that they use, which is longer than a football field, has an initial diameter of about six inches, which is stretched down to about four due to the force both teams use to pull it. It isn’t unusual for kids to break ribs, blow out their knees, or screw up their back during the event. Two years ago, three kids had to be taken to the hospital due to exhaustion and other physical injuries.
Practice starts Monday and lasts for three weeks until Pull Day, which is Sept. 27. During the next three weeks, I’ll come back with a few more articles about this whole insane tradition.
Up next: Odd Year.
Image via YouTube