I’m interested to see what the outcome will be for the recent Sumo backlash — with their reputation being ruined by tales of marijuana, gambling, and being bedfellows with the yakuza or Japanese mob. The AP describes Sumo as “more than a sport to Japan. It’s like a religion, a bastion of traditional culture and a matter of national pride.” However, the sport is not as respected as it once was, especially after the latest dirty revelation of the wrestlers using the services of Japanese gangsters to do illegal betting on professional baseball games.
Fans are angry with their beloved sport’s tarnished reputation, and the reaction has been extreme. NHK, Japan’s national broadcasting channel, has decided not to give the tournament live television coverage, the first time since 1953.
In Japan, what Americans would consider as minor offenses can tarnish your reputation and ruin your career. That’s what happened in 2007 with artiste Erika Sawaraji, who was caught saying, “Oh, shit!” by the paparazzi and gave short answers during a press conference to which reporters spun as rude. Sawaraji was a promising young star who at that time was the only singer in 39 years to have her first two singles ranked number one on the charts. She never managed to make a comeback.
This is such a contrast with America, where most of the times scandals can become a blessing in disguise. Here, sex tapes a la Paris Hilton can rocket you to celebrity stardom and give you the power to trademark such phrases as “That’s hot.” And, not to mention that cheating politicians have their sordid stories turned into movies.
Will Sumo wrestlers still be chick magnets after all this?