Declining Sumo May Modernize

Ancient violent sport struggles to find place in modern Japan
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2007 11:04 AM CDT
Recent scandals have some questioning whether sumo, Japan's deeply traditional sport, needs to catch up with the times.    ((c) erik langner)
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(Newser) – A series of sumo wrestling controversies has led to soul-searching within the venerable Japanese sport. A 17-year-old apprentice died from hazing at a sumo school, and a grand champion is accused of faking an injury and fixing matches. As troubles pile up and popularity continues to decline, writes the New York Times, some in sumo are wondering if it's time to modernize.

The last straw for sumo purists came last month when a woman, considered impure in sumo culture, tried to climb into the ring. Reforms under consideration include raising the age of apprentices and making the sport more international. But even if sumo can defy arch-traditionalists, it may never again be as popular as the current Japanese national sport: baseball.