The Tale of Two Teams

A proverb and a myth, I will tell you a tale of two teams.
I saw them last night in my dreams.
The one team was sleeker, but started much weaker,
The other was strong from the start.

Yes, the other was strong from the start.
But we found that they had less heart.
They grew and grew by one link and two,
And then they came apart.

It was too late, broke under their weight.
But the other can't suffer this fate.
The sleeker was weaker, but it was a keeper,
They shared the load with each part.

They grew and grew, by one foot and two,
And bound their strength anew.
Silly as it seems, this tale of two teams,
A myth and a proverb, true.

Though it may seem grand, or from foreign land,
You’ve worked with them hand in hand.

What is the proverb, and what is the myth?
Who or what are the two teams?

HINT #1

The proverb is about the strength of a team.

HINT #2

The myth is a slight misunderstanding of the physical attributes of a particular item.

HINT #3

The riddle is about two items, and it is a play on the mythical and proverbial strengths of these particular items.

HINT #4

There is some debate in physics about the myth, and that is why I call it a myth.

• so I'm pretty confident I have the rest of this riddle figured out but I'm struggling with the myth portion. Does it have to do with rot13(ebcr grafvba)? Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 4:09
• rot13(Nu, lbh'er ba gur evtug genpx. Gur jnl V'ir urneq gur zlgu qvqa'g fnl nalguvat nobhg "grafvba" fcrpvsvpnyyl, ohg lbh'er pybfr.) Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 14:23
• if I asked what context you've heard the myth, would that be too big of a hint? Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 15:42
• rot13(V jbhyq pnyy vg n zlgu, ohg fgevpgyl fcrnxvat vg'f n zvfhaqrefgnaqvat (be vzcebcre rkcynangvba) bs n pregnva culfvpny nggevohgr bs n cnegvphyne bowrpg gung n culfvpf grnpure zvtug gryy.) Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 16:44
• this is the last question I'll ask before posting my answer but rot13(qbrf gur "zlgu" vaibyir obgu grnzf be whfg bar?) Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 14:57

TL;DR: I think the two 'teams' in question are...

...a rope and a chain. If you consider these items in terms of their basic components - usually natural or synthetic fibres, and metal bars bent into hoop shapes, respectively - the chain would appear to be the much stronger of the two. However, there is a famous proverb that "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link" (often used in the context of a team only being as strong as its weakest member). In other words, because a chain comprises a series of linked metal hoops, each connected one-to-the-next in a single line, it just takes one link to break for the whole chain to become useless. In contrast, ropes are made from several fibres twisted and braided together, providing it with tensile strength and meaning that if one fibre should snap the rope as a whole does not immediately fail.

In actual fact, a rope (especially a wire rope) may even be stronger than a chain, breaking the 'myth' (or misconception) that a chain must be stronger because the raw material from which it is made is stronger (metal vs fibres).

Stanza by stanza...

A proverb and a myth, I will tell you a tale of two teams.
I saw them last night in my dreams.
The one team was sleeker, but started much weaker,
The other was strong from the start.

The teams are a rope and a chain. The rope is 'sleeker' in appearance (not as bulky as the chain) but the properties of its raw materials are not as strong as (i.e. weaker than) the chain's when deconstructed - fibres vs metal ('strong from the start').

Yes, the other was strong from the start.
But we found that they had less heart.
They grew and grew by one link and two,
And then they came apart.

Chains are made of links, and have 'less heart' in that there are holes in the middle of each link, whereas a rope is one solid unit all the way along its length. You can make a chain longer by adding more and more links.

It was too late, broke under their weight.
But the other can't suffer this fate.
The sleeker was weaker, but it was a keeper,
They shared the load with each part.

In this parable, the chain breaks at a particular tension because as soon as the tension becomes too great for its weakest link, that link will break and the whole chain will become broken and useless. Meanwhile (as explained in the first spoiler) if a strand of a rope were to snap under tension the whole rope will not immediately fail, since each of its strands shares the load along the whole length of the rope.

They grew and grew, by one foot and two,
And bound their strength anew.
Silly as it seems, this tale of two teams,
A myth and a proverb, true.

You can make a rope longer (and capable of taking more strain) by splicing in additional threads.

Though it may seem grand, or from foreign land,
You’ve worked with them hand in hand.

Ropes and chains are humble everyday items that have been in use for centuries, in pretty much every country of the world. Doubtless you've probably used one yourself at some point, holding it in your hand while using it...

• An excellent explanation and breakdown! Commented Oct 21, 2022 at 22:07

The two teams might be:

Sperm cells and eggs

Because:

Sperm are sleeker and (maybe?) weaker than eggs, and "They grew and grew by one and two, And then they came apart" sounds like cell division.

However:

I cannot think of a proverb and myth about this. As for "You’ve worked with them hand in hand", I don't know WHAT you are implying!

• Not a bad guess! But unfortunately that's not it. That was my wife's first guess too. One could wrote up a narrative for that. But for my answer, there is definitely a well known proverb (which I'm sure you know), and a fairly well known myth regarding these two teams. Commented Feb 5, 2021 at 19:14