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Re: Kyokai's Attempt to Revive Sumo's Popularity

Concerning sumo's popularity, may I suggest that rikishi be allowed, even
encouraged, to show at least a modicum of personality and emotion. For
example, rikishi departing after a match now totally ignore fans who are
clapping for them. Couldn't rikishi be allowed to at least look at fans and
give a friendly nod of acknowledgement? 

At 05:40 PM 02/04/2001 , Joe Kuroda wrote:
>More discussion on Ozumo's declining poplularity in
>> From the Mainichi Shimbun - February 3, 2001 
>Yokozuna Takanohana won the yusho for the first time
>almost two and half years at the Hatsu Basho held at
>the Kokugikan in Tokyo from January 7th to 21st. 
>Howerver the average TV rating during the 
>15 day period went down below 10%, the first time for
>the Hatsu  Basho. 
>The number of sold-out days was only five days,
>equalling the last year's Hatsu Basho as the lowest
>number of sold-out days. "The Waka-Taka Fever" seems
>to be just a long gone memory.  Is there any
>presciption for bringing the fan interest back to Sumo
>The last Kyushu Basho had no sell-out days.  Except
>for the 1989 Hatsu Basho marred by the Showa 
>Emperor's death,  it was the first time the whole
>basho went without any sellout since they started 
>recording the attendance.  The last basho of the
>twentith century certainly did not go out with a 
>bang but the new century hasn't turned out to be a new
>and better beginning for the Kyokai.  Even  the days
>of sellout at the Hatsu Basho, the upper chair seats
>filled up only late aftternoon.
>The sumo TV ratings are not doing well either.
>According to Video Research company, the average TV 
>rating for the Hatsu Basho was only 9.9% in the Kanto
>area including Tokyo and Yokohama.  This is the first
>time the average ratings did not reach a double digit
>since 1990 when they first started taking the survey.
>The sumo TV broadcast consistently captured over 20%
>during the 1992 to 1994 years.  
>Ozumo's declining popularity is underscored by the
>Kyokai's financial statement released recently. For
>the six basho tournaments last year, their revenue was
>10.1 Billion yen, 2.4% down from the previous year. 
>Their Jyungyo revenue was 2.4 Billion yen, 5% down
>from the year before and third straight year their
>revenue fell.  
>The Kyokai officials are well aware of the serious
>situation. At his special new year's address on 
>January 4 this year, Tokitsukaze oyakata, Chairman of
>the Kyokai, summoned all sekitoris, toshiyoris,
>gyojis, yobidashis and Kyokai workers and urged them
>to do their very best to work towards reviving the
>sumo popularity.  
>Initially planned for a two minute speech, the oyakata
>went on for over 15 minutes to complain about frequent
>unspirited and henka "miss-if-you-blink" sumo matches.
> "There is no other sport that charges 11,300 yen (for
>a Masu A seat) to their fans.  The fans come all the
>way to see good sumo matches and you often disappoint
>them," Tokitsukaze oyakata pointed out. 
>As well after the Hatsu Basho, the oyakata told the
>Kyokai officials and toshiyori memebers to have 
>everyone conduct their business with a "crisis
>mentality".   The Kyokai also decided to lower the 
>Jyugyo event admission prices up to 1,500 yen and
>introduce a merit system for their employees  
>starting this April.
>As the Kyokai is finally ready to embark on the new
>business plan,  they certainly don't lack interested
>parties advising how to restore the national sport to
>the former glory.   Yokozuna Selection Committe member
>and writer, Makiko Uchidate, 52, complains, "I want to
>ask the current crop of ozekis, if they ever want to
>become a yokozuna.  I don't get any feel if any of
>them has such a hungry spirit ... insatiable need to
>fill the emptiness of their heart, that true
>competitors possess beyond money and fame." 
>Ms Uchidate is asking the Kyokai to consider a couple
>of ideas, to - 1) reform the Jyugyo system to enable
>rikishis to train sufficiently, and 2) stimulate local
>fan interests by choosing a shikona that associates
>rikishi's hometown.
>Former Tate gyoji 28th Shonosuke Kimura (real name -
>Satoru Goto), 72, says, "If there is no effort 
>made by everyone to observe the Kyokai rules, there
>simply is no point.  For example, take the case 
>of reforming 'Tachi-ai'.  I believe gyojis should have
>enough courage to do the bout all over again even if
>it's completed when the hands were improperly placed
>on the dohyo at the start." 
>He also talks about the Kyokai's attempt to bring back
>the old and proper Tachi-ai standard as the
>'no-hands-on' tachi-ai style gained pre-dominance in
>the recent years. "They should be seriously
>considering how to preserve the traditions that
>withstand the test of time and can carry over to the
>next generations."
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