SumoStew released a great video with Konishiki. The premise was to give viewers a bit of the back story on the photo we’ve all seen of the massive former Ozeki framed by a black background glaring at, and dwarfing, his opponent. But it’s more. It’s a quick, well-produced ride through the story of Konishiki, featuring an interview from the man himself. It also has a bit of the history and cultural background of the sport. I learned a lot. I didn’t know the story of the photo. But, it’s not just for die-hard sumo fans. She carefully explains the key concepts so you don’t need to be an expert in sumo to enjoy it. NBC should take notes.
Yes, I realize there’s a bit of irony in me enjoying this video about one of the largest rikishi ever when I complained about that NBC piece precisely because THAT video focused on the stereotypical girth of sumo wrestlers. I would argue that this SumoStew video is not intended as a 2:30 minute introduction to the sport but it definitely goes deeper into the cultural background while staying in the context of Konishiki and his importance as a ground-breaking Ozeki.
The NBC video is linked in the tweet above. And I understand where y’all are coming from that, “it wasn’t THAT bad.” But, I guess, if I had to make a comparison, the NBC video would be like introducing an audience to the NBA by focusing on the height of the players and not mentioning really anything substantive about the sport itself, like that it’s 5-on-5 and there’s a three-point line. No discussion of offensive strategies or defensive strategies or showing great plays. Just, “these guys are tall.” And rather than poking a basketball player in the belly, interview him from a ladder. It’s a missed opportunity.
That said, the career and life of Manute Bol is worth exploring for basketball fans in the way SumoStew introduces her viewer to Konishiki. I think SumoStew payed more respect to her subject than NBC did and she did so in a way that would entice more people to learn more than the NBC video — as Konishiki himself said he learned more about Japan. There’s a lot of depth to this sport which is why I get so agitated when it’s reduced to caricature and stereotype.