Thursday, March 13, 2008

Spectator Sports

I thought about going to see a day of sumo today, but decided against it. Evidently there's a tournament/championship in Osaka right now; one of my colleagues told me about it. Another colleague told me I could also watch on TV, so I tried that for a bit yesterday.

From what little I've seen, sumo reminds me of two things. The first is watching baseball. You know, there's a pitcher, and a batter, and a bunch of guys standing around. And the pitcher looks, and the batter looks, and then the pitcher gets a signal and shakes his head. And then he straightens up, and the batter steps back out of the box. Then they both get set again, and then the batter wiggles his bum, and the pitcher shakes his head, and the batter steps out of the box again, and ten minutes later (what?), the pitcher pitches and either it's a strike/ball, and they start over again, the bat hits the ball and it's something else, the action of which lasts maybe 40 seconds.

Except in baseball, the same pitcher stares at maybe 15 guys during a few innings, before he's replaced by another pitcher. So maybe a baseball game is more like a whole sumo tournament.

Both involve a whole lot of male posturing and a little bit of action.

Meanwhile, on TV at least, there are two guys talking quite seriously in the background. This isn't John Madden going "boom" or something, but very serious sounding. They could, of course, be channeling John Madden, but they sound serious. Every so often, I pick up a word. "Neh" usually, which usually seems to be like the "no" use to request affirmation at the end of a statement. ("Heck of a hot day, no?") For all I know, they could be discussing Shakespeare. (I can always hope!)

I sort of managed to follow the action a little today by looking at the schedule (this is the schedule for tomorrow's action) and trying to match up the kanji on the tv with the ones for each wrestler.

In both sports, there seems to be a lot of ritual. In sumo, they have bowing, and dances and salt. In baseball, they scratch and reposition their balls, and sing during the seventh inning stretch. Come to think of it, the sumo guys walk as if their belt things are a little uncomfortable, don't they? Maybe if they were allowed to reposition things, they'd frown less?

As baseball pitchers have specialties, sumo wrestlers have moves they're known for, and they record the winning moves with the "box scores" each day. (If you click on the schedule and click on individual wrestler pages, you can see what moves he's known for using. The site explains the moves and such, too.)

It felt very springlike today, and I missed my bike. I'm not much of a sports spectator. I'd be happy throwing a ball around, or biking, or even playing baseball, but watching doesn't really do much for me these days.


  1. Anonymous5:50 AM

    I think the fun of going to a sports event abroad would be watching the rest of the crowd, not the sports. Absorbing the experience.

  2. Anonymous10:36 AM

    Ah, I have fond memories of the ubiquitousness of the phrase "so desu ne" (which I guess would be roughly translated as "that's right, isn't it?"). I went to a sumo tournament when I lived there many moons ago. The atmosphere made it very interesting but it was a long day.

  3. Anonymous7:04 PM

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