In this case—because there are many—I am talking about the Japan Sumo Association’s (JSA) decision to bar girls from participating at an upcoming spring sumo event, and have asked the organizer of the event to not let the school-aged kids join the sumo wrestlers in the ring (doyo) as part of a planned promotion.
Five girls in total from the local sumo clubs of Shizuoka and Yaizu are scheduled to be in the events. For now.
Just a week ago, the rest of the modern world was aghast at a local sumo event bullying women out of the ring as they entered to save the life of the mayor who was giving a speech when he collapsed in the ring.
While the JSA said at the time that that was a mistake and that there are exceptions—such as in how women should NOT be barred from the doyo. women being in the ring.
What is more galling about the JSA requesting the organizer bar the female kids from the ring is that they had already established precedent.
Girls had participated in pre-show events related to the Fujisan Shizuoka tour since 2013.
The JSA says that a decision was made last month to only allow male children (specifically using wording that did not say female children were barred) to participate in the event.
In these promo shows, kids en masse get to battle a sumo wrestler, who basically stands his ground as they try and push his bulk out of the ring.
After the laughs from the crowd invariably erupt, he begins to toss them away one by one.
The JSA says that they were concerned for the safety of the female sumo wrestlers and that they had received commentary from parents and organizers stating that the girls are often injured.
I have no doubt that that is true. A gentle sumo wrestler tossing kids aside might still be less impactful than a herd of elephants running through a classroom… but…
… I wonder if the questions asked were: Did any girls ever get hurt during one of these exhibitions?
Yes? That’s bad,. We must do something.
However, perhaps the question could simply have asked if any boys or girls ever been hurt during one of these exhibitions… and if the answer is repeatedly “yes” against the girls, then maybe there’s a concern.
You can’t tell me, however, that no boy was ever hurt?!
And what exactly constitutes an “injury”? A fractured skull? Sprained knee? A jammed finger?
All hurt, to be sure, but there are degrees of injury.
Since the girls at these clubs train alongside the boys, each has already accepted the possibility of being hurt performing drills and practice bouts.
Did any of the events ever receive complaints from a girl regarding the shoddy treatment by a sumo wrestler?
Why protect one gender and not the other?
While there may have been something rotten in the State of Denmark 500 years ago, there is still something rotten in the State of Japanese sumo association, and certainly with the country that lets it continue to get away with such blatant sexual inequality.
I’m not saying people should stop watching sumo.
I’m a sports fan, and when I was in Japan, I was a sumo fan… I know being asked to stop watching a sport you love is difficult.
Then again, being told you can’t participate in a sport you love because of outdated morality is just plain stupid.
Perhaps a boycott of all advertisers who sponsor sumo events would be appropriate.
Don’t buy products or services from companies that promote sumo and its outdated sexual inequality standards.
Hit the sumo profession where it hurts the most - the wallet, and then their ego.
Let them play! Let them play! Let them play!
Movie is from the 1977 movie, The Bad News Bears In Breaking Training… not as good as the original, which might just be the best baseball movie ever, the sequel is still pretty fun.
PPS: The photo at the top, is one I took at a sumo tour in Ohtawara back in 1993 (?)... where you can see about a dozen little kids attacking a sumo wrestler. It's the old equivalent of "professional" wrestling where a group of "midget" wrestlers would fight a wrestler, just to evoke laughs from the audience. I always wanted wrestlers like Little Beaver to kick the big guy's butt. I must like the underdog.
PPPS: In that photo, since there was no sacred clay ring and it was just some mats, I suppose girl wrestlers could have been allowed into, except that the local club did not, in that era, appear to have any female wrestlers.