Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Asashoryu Got Horsed By the J.S.A.

Life in Japan can be pretty cut and dry sometimes. In a nation which image and pride is often more important than doing the `right thing` or even making smart decisions, a person can have their life crushed with just one small mistake. There are countless examples I could site of image and pride taking priority over sound decision making. All you need to do is look up the latest punishment handed out in political and celebrity scandals for classic examples. Yet, I am gonna focus on one such clear example of stubborn image and pride clouding sound decision making.

As the title of this post infers, the recent fate of Sumo great Asashoryu falls nothing short of exposing the pitfalls of a society which can sometimes victimizes itself over image and pride. Asashoryu is one of best Sumo wrestlers of all time. The man won 25 championships over the course of his career. Although, you would never be able to tell his is one of the greatest judging from the way his career ended.

Asashoryu was forced to `retire` because he was not `Sumo` enough. Sure, the man was a bit tough at times. He turned a few heads with his behavior both inside and outside the ring. The media sometimes refers to him as the `bad boy` of Sumo. As the world changes and more non-Japanese wrestlers enter the sport and gain success, the J.S.A(Japan Sumo Association) seems to cling onto strict ideas of what is a Sumo.

Truth be known, interest in Sumo has sharply declined in Japan over the past several decades. The sport struggles to appeal to a new generation of Japanese who regard the sport as boring, outdated and out of touch with modern Japan. Asashoryu presented a change to raise interest in the sport with this head turning behavior. While taking it too far sometimes, he at least got people interested in `what is going on in Sumo these days.`  His behavior could have been mentored and kept within manageable limits. This did not happen due to the image that a yokozuna needs no one to give him advice on Sumo behavior and manners. These is also the pride of his Sumo stable which failed to guide him because it would embarrass them and lower there pride. Instead, they sat back and displayed a implied opinion that they have produced the perfect Sumo who needs to guidance. In the end, the entire image and pride of Sumo has been damaged due to lack of proper actions taken by everyone involved due to image and pride.

So, instead of trying to provide proper guidance to a amazingly gifted wrestler they simply force him to retire and pretend everything is now rosy.  Asahoryu got horsed by the J.S.A. Their own pride and stubbornness ended the career of one the greatest Sumo wrestlers Japan has ever seen.