Saturday, January 22, 2011

Black and White, and Grey

The mawashi loin coverings that the sumo wrestlers wear are either black or white. The amateurs wear white, and the pros wear black.

A lot of things in life are black and white.

And then there's some grey.

I just found a mindblowing blog. It's by Mike Weseman, and he's a sumo guru. He's met the actual wrestlers, hung out with them, really follows their careers. He writes the kind of blog I'd love to write if I had more time to dedicate to my sumo hobby and if I weren't a super-busy mom of five kids with a billion duties in that realm of life. He and some friends co-author the blog, and each of the guys has his own take on the sport.  They even post the latest news, by date. It's a super great resource. Check it out: SUMO TALK. Awesome blog.

But the blog post that has my head spinning is Mike's opinion on the fallout from last autumn's scandal. Yes, the JSA is going through the motions of ousting the yakuza (Japanese mafia) from the sport. Good news, right? Not to Mike. He writes in great detail why it's wrong for sumo to get rid of mob money, and why it could be the end of all the small stables.

Who'da thunk.

I'm not sure where I come down on that, but it is very interesting to me to read the other side of the story. It goes to show me that there are two sides to every story, even ones that seem like they're completely black and white.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

I was just thinking about one result of last year's betting scandal. Remember, it was betting on baseball, not sumo. But it was sumo wrestlers betting on baseball. Via the yakuza.

Afterwards, the powers that be wanted to prove they were purging the sport of the corruption of mafia ties. Mafia ties didn't go over very well with the fans. So, to prove they were severing any ties (which had never been sanctioned, just existing under the radar), they made a major announcement to all the audience at the beginning of the July basho in Nagoya (if I remember right, that's where this happened.) It was basically, "All righty then, everyone here who is a member of the mafia is invited to leave right now."

Okay. So I'm laughing at the thought of this. Right. I can just see it now. Announcement goes off. A row of fifteen guys in expensive suits perk up, look around, point to their own chests, ask something equivalent to "Moi?", shrug, get up and leave.

Yeah. I love the jokey ineffectiveness of this. It's almost like they were doing it in jest.

Then again, maybe it worked.