Sumo Stereotypes in Journalism

Today’s sensational news naturally brings with it much wider coverage than normal. As readers, we want details. We want to know what the heck happened. I was scouring media last night and on the train this morning. There is quite a bit of unconfirmed and contradictory information. Tachiai will continue to bring you updates and information as it comes in and as we can confirm.

What I want to avoid are silly stereotypes, particularly what I’ve seen coming out of foreign media. In a rather tame example, an Irish sports outfit reported on Harumafuji’s scandal. “The ancient sport has an extremely strict protocol, and yokozuna are expected to be beyond moral reproach in addition to showing superior strength and technique in the ring. Wrestlers are not even allowed to express emotions when they win as this is seen as inconsiderate to the loser.” Despite not covering sumo for anything other than sumo suits and sumo squats in the past 3 years, they’re suddenly experts on the sport and Japanese culture.

When I mention this to my wife, both of us laugh as she says her immediate thought was of Hakuho clenching his kenshokin each time he dispatches an opponent. Surely the Irish are familiar with the rather tame and predictable wild manner in which soccer goals are celebrated: run, slide, fist pump. Hedonism if you ask me! Well, at least they’re familiar with the way the Danes celebrate; they won’t need to worry for another four years, like us and the Italians. Maybe they forgot their lucky charms?

Anyway, in the US, the NFL loves to officiate all of the fun out of their sport, excessive celebration and taunting penalties abound. Please count on us to avoid these silly generalizations and mischaracterizations – except for when I’m making fun of these Guinness-swilling leprechauns for their generalizations. I mean, I just had to live through 6 months of Connor McGreggor hype. We know athletes are not saints. Violence and hazing are not unique or, honestly, surprising in any of these sports. Personally, dozens of guys set out on a month-long road trip together. Hmmm… do you think there’s going to be friction? As there’s news, we will bring it to you.

6 thoughts on “Sumo Stereotypes in Journalism

  1. Hey now! The NFL relaxed celebration rules this year! And so we get gems like….. Duck Duck Goose, Hide and Seek, Potato Sack Race, Leap Frog…. It’s rather silly.

    • The sport has come a long way in the 20 years since T.O. had the vision to hide a Sharpie in his sock. Ahhh…those were the days.

      Reminiscing is instructive. Perhaps Harumafuji’s next move is “Dancing With The Stars?”

  2. Another thing upsetting me about the herd-mentality journalism: every story ends with the same laundry list of other scandals in Sumo, including the match-fixing scandal of 2011.

    1) There is very little in common between yakuza crime syndicates and match fixing compared to violence of a drunk individual, and

    2) Every story about an NFL player infraction doesn’t end with a mention of the 2007 videotaping controversy or the 2012 New Orleans Saints bounty scandal. Ever story about a MLB player infraction doesn’t end with a mention of the MLB strike of 1994 or the Steroids Era.

    • Bingo. But these journalists don’t follow sumo so they’re left grasping for the last big scandal. We’ll obviously stay on top of the story as facts come out but there’s a tournament to cover. And most of us are here because we love actual sumo…like Takekaze’s win today. That’s the stuff I like to see.


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