Have you ever spent your eagerly anticipated 2017 Grand Sumo Tournament catch-up marathon rooting for the one competing champion only to discover, more than halfway through the 15-day September event, that he’s since embroiled himself in a scandal that would lead to his announcement of an untimely retirement?
So have we.
It’s hard to hang onto the excitement of rooting for a guy once you know what will ensue after the event.
You don’t really know what happened, though. He may or may not have slammed a beer bottle or a champagne bottle onto the head of a fellow sumo wrestler in a bar, or he may or may not have used his bare hands. He may or may not have followed the initial assault with 20-30 additional strikes that may or may not have included an ice pick, an ashtray, a microphone, or a karaoke remote control. He may or may not have sent the guy to the hospital with multiple injuries, including a fractured skull and leaking cerebral-spinal fluid, which may or may not have been found, during imaging scans, to be indications of old injuries, rather than fresh ones… all of this occurring in the presence of other sumo wrestlers in the group, wrestlers who may or may not have had some involvement, if only verbal, in the incident.
You’re a newer fan of the sport, but you’re aware of past sumo scandals and sumo’s involvement with the Yakuza; the history of shady incidents and cover-ups in the sumo world makes it hard to know what to believe amid various conflicting reports.
So there you are, blithely catching up on September, when you suddenly learn – in the worst of spoiler alerts – that your guy won’t be completing the upcoming November event; he’ll conclude his honorable career with a sudden exit due to scandal. If any of the allegations are true, you’ll also be encumbered with the image of the guy committing the assault, an image all the more shocking and revolting because you’ve only known him to be a gentleman in the sport.
Thus, the sizable hairy underbelly of the sumo world emerges and casts a shadow over your fledgling fandom.
Despite sumo’s formal traditions and traditional designation as Japan’s national sport, it turns out to be just like any other combat sport – or any professional sport, for that matter.
Just getting that (frivolous musing) off my chest. Perhaps some of you are sumo fans also wondering what to make of this whole thing!