[sumo] The Psychology of Yaocho Speculation

John Racine gaijira at tky2.3web.ne.jp
Sun Mar 26 19:03:44 EST 2006

> And here, I  thought this was a basho that no one could complain about. 
There were no kyujo rikishi in Makuuchi, all 4 Ozeki lasted all 15 days, 
and the championship was in doubt right up to the very last match.
What more could a fan ask for?

>         Jim
>         "Chitose-Taikai"

Yeah, you'd think we'd all be excited, but some people can't seem to accept
the results for what they are.

The last time I saw the list react this way was after Takanohana's final
(Amazing!) yusho.  Just like now, some people here said it was merely
scripted theatre and likened it to pro wrestling.

The psychology of this has me stumped.  Just when the sport is at best, its
most interesting and exciting, some of the biggest fans write it off.  Does
anyone have any conjecture as to why this occurs?

One theory could be due to the way fans idealize the sport.  Even when it's
not so good, we love it.  Even when the average Japanese person (and
certainly everyone outside of Japan) couldn't care less about it, we love
it.  There's a very special place in our hearts for it.  Thus, when the
general public embrace it for fleeting moments like right now, it seems a
little tarnished by its own popularity.  Or perhaps by discounting it right
now, we can still say to the fair-weather fans:  "Sure you like it now, but
this is not real sumo.  The best part of sumo was going on when you weren't
watching."  Thus, we can secure our "special relationship" with the sport.

Another theory as to why this occurs, I call the "classic rock" theory.
Fans of classic rock, like sumo fans, are usually not trendy people.  So
much so that some fans of classic rock are unable to accept great new music
until years after it's released.  First it must be processed through the
test of time, repeated listening, good reviews, etc., until it is finally
accepted into the CD collection alongside Hendrix and Zeppelin.  Perhaps
some sumo fans can't take in the great bouts of our time either.  At some
point, after repeated viewing and hearing repeated references to "what a
great bout that was", they can finally accept it.

This might account for why it is only the initial reactions that call them
yaocho.  Later everyone accepts the outcomes as real.  Does anyone here
still believe that Takanohana's final yusho was a fake?  Or his knee injury?

Anyway, I'm fascinated by this phenomenon.  I welcome any other theories,
but comments like "Who cares!" are fair enough, too.

John Racine

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