A team test of strength and cunning, Tug-o-War might be just the right party game for a bunch of rowdy children on the back lawn. But the key to a good game of tug of war is to make certain that the rope used is strong enough to handle the number and size of players. The main safety issue with Tug-o-War is that synthetic fibers can stretch and snap under excessive pressure in the same way a rubber band may. In technical parlance, this is called "synthetic line snap back". People have actually been killed playing tug-o-war from this phenomenon.
But this should not keep you from organizing a fun game of Tug-o-War for your next children's party (if it is to be played out-doors). Yet making use of a rope made of natural fibers is highly recommended.
To play Tug-o-War a field is laid out. Two parallel lines are painted about 20 feet apart on the grass or drawn in the dirt. The rope is laid perpendicular to these lines. A cloth flag is tied to the middle of the rope. Two teams of relatively equal weight are chosen. They are required to position themselves along the rope on either side of one of the lines leaving the center area (or no man's land) empty. The referee holds onto the rope at the point of the flag as the rope is gradually made taught. He makes certain the flag is positioned precisely mid-way between the two lines. On his own command, he releases the flag and shouts, "Go!".
Both teams then pull on their end of the rope. The object is to pull the flag over the team's goal line.
History: Tug-of-War is actually a competitive team sport in England, Scotland, Sweeden and many other countries with a sea-faring tradition. For that is where the game (or rather sport) of Tug-of-War comes from. It originated in the great days of sail when teams of men were required to tug on lines to adjust sails while ships were underway or even in combat. The first land competitions are thought to have been held in India after British Army officers observed seamen at this sport durring their free time at sea. The officers thought it would be a good way to keep their own men fit durring the long sea voyage from England to India. They enjoyed it so much that they continued the competitions on reaching their destination.