Sumo Deserves Better Than a Belly Laugh

Sumo finally breaches the surface of an American newspaper ("One Sport Where a Match Is a Dinner Break," Laugh Lines, May 24) and all we get is adolescent snickering over the same three stale, cliched jokes: They eat so much. The matches are over quickly. They're so faaaat!! Not to mention the completely erroneous designation of the sport as sumo "wrestling."

Of course the article was intended as humor. But at the risk of sounding cranky and humorless, may I please point out that quite a few Americans are legitimately interested in sumo as a sport, and that many more would be were it not that the only coverage it receives is unpleasantly close to ridicule? Why not describe the techniques used by the rikishi, their years of rigorous training, their dedication to their sport--which far exceeds that of spoiled, overpaid, drug-addled American athletes--and the fact that many a middle-aged businessman carries a higher percentage of body fat?

Sumo can be enjoyed as an exciting sport without resorting to either drooling cultural reverence or characterization as the human equivalent of monster trucks. Those who wish to pursue thoughtful exchange on the grand sport of sumo are invited to contact the Pasadena Sumo Assn., 686 S. Arroyo Parkway, Suite 299, Pasadena, Calif. 91105.



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