Regarding Jack Gallagher’s Feb. 9 column, “Shut sumo down for the rest of 2011, put its future in private hands“: I was fortunate enough to be part of the English-language sumo broadcast team at NHK for almost nine years. It remains one of my treasured memories of Japan. Early on I was taught by someone within the sumo world how to look at certain aspects of a particular match to see if it was on the level. Once I knew what to look for, I could predict the match winner from the beginning, a helpful skill for announcing.
Having said that, I think the so-called yaocho scandal these days is a bit overblown. Certainly (match-rigging) exists and there are some old fogies in the upper ranks who should have retired long ago. But there are also many clean, honest wrestlers working tirelessly to get to the top, fair and square.
The sumo world is one that few foreigners understand. It is not like skiing, golf, football or rugby. I even have doubts about whether it’s a true “sport.” Still, it remains my favorite athletic activity to watch. And I don’t think that bringing in some promotional outfit to oversee this world would work on any level.
I believe that the Japan Sumo Association will take care of this problem. Will it go away 100 percent? Doubtful. But consider that participants in sports that are not actually fixed sometimes take the day off rather than risk hurting themselves in a losing cause. Let’s hope sumo gets back on the right track.
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