Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sumo is Fixed Like All Other Professional Sports

I've been telling people for years that all professional sports are fixed. They are. Now, today, thanks to my slim and trim friends in sumo, another sports has provided evidence that what I have said is true.

Other sports, baseball, soccer, football, cricket, etc. even tiddley-winks have provided, with amazing regularity, evidence of corruption, one needs only perform a Google search to find enough literature on the subject for a lifetime.

I have been a professional announcer and have worked in the news and the mass media for over 30 years. I've even been a professional sports announcer. I know what I am talking about.

All professional sports are fixed. Japan's sumo is no different. The only professional sport that is on the "up and up" is , amazingly enough, professional wrestling. At least in pro wrestling they tell you that it's entertainment at the start, they don't try to act like "everything is real" like the other sports do.

Me with one of Japan's most famous pro wrestlers of all time: The Great Muto

The reason why I say this is because all professionals sports are corrupted by money. Professional sports are entertainment for the masses. Professional sports are big business. The people who run these leagues are not doing it for fun... If they want to do something for fun, I'm sure they'll do something like stamp collecting or chasing wild women...

There's nothing at all wrong with wanting to make tons and tons of money (nor in chasing wild women)... But, in the case of sports, they always promote professional sports as a primitive  "man vs. man" or "man vs. nature" challenge. 

You won't hear the truth about how money is the #1 motivating, compelling and driving part of the story behind the modern sports of today.

Pro sports are multi billion dollars businesses. The people who own and run these businesses and leagues do not run them to lose money.

So, why are the sports fixed? Because, like I said, they are entertainment. Since they are entertainment, someone has to pay to see the games. 

Once you consider that we are dealing with entertainment - entertainment that must compete with all other forms of entertainment - and, in turn, compete for the same money that other entertainment is competing for, then you realize that professional sports need to well, entertain.  

Sounds silly, but it's not. Sports must compete for the same dollars that Hollywood movies do. It's that simple.  

That means we need to get people to come to our entertainment events (sports games). That means tickets must be sold and someone must pay big money for their broadcast of these games. That means people and sponsors expect to get their money's worth.

This is important. Keep it in mind.

Take the example of CBS who used to do the Superbowl every year. CBS sells commercial time on the Superbowl for tens of millions of dollars. CBS wants to sell 4 or 5 hours of this commercial time to a sponsor. 

If the games are blowouts and 70% the viewers turn off their TVs before the first half ends, sponsors are very upset. When sponsors are upset, the TV stations are very upset. Why? Because, if games are boring and people tune out, if this happens too much and too often then sponsors won't want to spend big money next year because they fear the same thing will happen.

If the sponsors don't pay big money, then who doesn't make big money? The league and team owners. 

If you are an American, you might remember the Denver Broncos getting to the Superbowl in the early 1980s. They got blown out two years in a row. The games were basically over 1/2 way through the second quarter. The viewers turned their sets off. There haven't been any blowouts since then. Is it any wonder why?

Like I said, pro sports are a big business. The leagues have a product to sell. That product is supposed to be an exciting sports event that last for 4 hours and is profitable to their mass media partners too. When the game is over after 45 minutes, there are some very unhappy sponsors and media partners.

The league cannot afford to have that.

This is why, over these last 20 years or so, all major sports events always go down to the wire; especially American sports such as the Superbowl. In recent memory, these games always go down to the last minute... And with that, people complaining about the poor refereeing and bad calls.

Don't people realize that they are not bad calls, they are calls to extend the game to the last minute. They are not bad calls, they are opportunistic calls made to stretch the games out to the end. Like the director makes an edit to a movie script, the league makes sure that the important games stay close until the last minute. 

The game has an exciting finish, the sponsors are happy. Everyone gets their money and we can do the same thing next year.

It's all a scam. All professionals sports are this way.

I've been saying this for years. People always get mad at me for this.

Recently, Japan's traditional sport (it's been fixed for at least a few decades) has been "found out." Matches are fixed and the proof is out. 

Of course they are. What pro sports isn't?

Kyodo reports:

Two sumo wrestlers and one elder have admitted to being involved in fixing matches in high-profile tournaments, Sports minister Yoshiaki Takaki said Thursday, in the latest blow to the traditional Japanese sport that was already reeling from a string of scandals. The unprecedented revelation angered Prime Minister Naoto Kan and prompted the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which oversees the JSA, to reconsider the association's future as a government-affiliated entity.

The funniest part about this is the last sentence, "The unprecedented revelation angered Prime Minister Naoto Kan and prompted the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, which oversees the JSA, to reconsider the association's future as a government-affiliated entity."

Ha! Ha! Of course they are corrupt! They are a government-affliated entity. All governments are corrupt too! What do you expect? You just can't make this stuff up. (Psst! Don't look now, but have you ever wondered why the government allowed gambling on horse racing all those years and why racing associations are government run or sanctioned?)

Before you write to me claiming that your favorite sport is not fixed, please Google search, "Bribery, scandal, (your favorite sport's name)" then, write to me about it.

By the way, do not misunderstand what I have written here. I don't hate sports. I like sports. I hate professional sports and nationalism inducing sports circuses like the Olympics too. If big money is involved then it is not honest. Sports are supposed to be honest.

If you want to see honest and real sports, then go to the playground and see kids playing little league soccer or baseball or ?. Those are real sports. The kids are doing those games for the love of the game, not for money. They are trying their hearts out. They cry when they lose. The pros? When they lose, they just worry about their contract next year and wonder what city they will be playing in.

Professional sports are entertainment... No more, no less. Sure, they can be fun to watch while having a beer with friends, but to actually care who "wins" is childish. You'd think that people, after graduating from, say, high school  would be mature enough to throw away the tribalistic type of thinking that makes them feel better and superior about themselves just because a bunch of clowns in leotards can throw a ball in a bucket more than the other guys or something.

Once again, all pro sports are a scam; they are big money entertainment. In truth, they mean absolutely nothing important at all. 

It reminds me of a passage in George Orwell's 1984 when protagonist Winston Smith goes to the restroom at work and meet his boss. His boss says, "Smith? Did you hear the big game last night?" Smith answers, "No!" To that the boss responds, "Now that was an exciting game. What a finish! That's the best script we've written in a long time!"   

Here's another article I wrote about this very same corrupt subject over 5 years ago.

Comment Guidelines: Comments should be succinct, constructive and relevant to the story. We encourage engaging, diverse and meaningful commentary. Comments that include personal attacks, racial, religious, or ethnic slurs are not permitted. We continuously review and remove any inappropriate comments. 


Andy "In Japan" said...

Of course, the owners and sponsors are only in this for the money. As Mike points out, this is the entertainment industry we are talking about.

In terms of Sumo, it's rather interesting to note that the sport has devolved into a complete bore and consequent record low attendance and low ratings as far as I know. The sumo match fixing appears to serve the individual interests of the competitors, not the interests of the owners. The owners, being the recipients of government loot, appear to simply be incompetent.

I took the Mike Rogers challenge and entered the words "bribery, scandal, and my favorite sport", golf in a google search. Other than about 8 trillion Tiger Woods sex scandal stories, there were zero results indicating that the outcome of any pro golf tournament was fixed or influenced by sponsors or anyone else.

Golf, by its nature, being a competition amongst individuals with self policing and little involvement of any sort by a referee/judge, seems to be immune from bribery and cheating scandals.

I challenge Mike to find any evidence of cheating or match fixing in professional level golf, though I do agree with the main points he was trying to make in his blog today.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Dammit! That's right!
My old nemesis Andy, eh? Golf, eh? OK... Well, you got me there. I never thought of that... You are right and I am wrong on that one. I admit it.
Perhaps it's because golf is a gentleman's game and is not a game designed for the masses of intelligentsia.
You know what I mean, those intelligent people who we see drinking, foaming at the mouth and getting into fights...
What's the affectionate name for them? Hooligans. That's right. When Golf gets popular enough for hooliganism then perhaps we will see
game fixing there too.

mikeintokyorogers said...

OK. Not exactly game fixing in golf... But cheating and steroid use may point to other problems:

Granted not nearly on the scales of corruption in soccer, pro baseball, American football, Olympics, etc...

Not trying to make excuses. Andy is right, this is the only scandal I can find. Cannot find any evidence of fixing of results.

Ira Hata said...

Sumo became fixed after Chiyono Fuji. Since then, it became painfully clear after the two brothers of the Fujishima beya came on the scene. Neither of them were talented enough to rise to the position they attained. Worse yet, both of them were screwing around with women they shouldn't have been (remember the fiasco with Miyazawa Rie and the divorce with the ANA stewardess?). It's totally a shame.

I hope the Japanese Sumo Association goes completely bankrupt. They don't deserve to be in business...


Andy "In Japan" said...

Interestingly, nearly everyone who plays golf on an informal basis cuts corners, fails to play precisely by the rules at times, or even intentionally cheats by ignoring rules, penalties and miscounting strokes. Even more interesting to me is the fact that at the professional level it would be extraordinarily easy to throw a match, but it doesn't ever appear as if that ever happens. An intentionally missed putt or a bad shot would be nearly impossible to detact as being done on purpose.

Why are there apparently no thrown matches in golf? Perhaps its the fact that each individual golfer is like a sole entrepreneur who needs to sign up sponsors, pay expenses, and earn a living. The worse your score is, the less likely you will be to get and retain sponsors or get invited to future tournaments, thus directly hurting you economically. Further, it is more or less impossible to communicate surrepticiously during a round of golf with a potential match thrower other than with the fellow competitor with whom you are paired, though a typical 4 day tournament provides ample opportunities for neer do wells to get together during the evening and coordinate an illegitimate result. I'm going to think about this some more.

As it stands now, sumo is in critical condition and on life support. Perhaps the sport of golf holds the key to sumo's success. Either that or admit its all a fraud and turn it into a sort of pro wrasslin. Adopting the pro wrasslin strategy would end sumo's run as national sport and cultural icon, but would probably result in something fun and entertaining.

Andy "In Japan" said...

Mike points out that a Google search reveals that there are accusations of drug taking in golf. Taking steroids or similar drugs to bulk up would be considered cheating under the rules of golf, as would taking something like marijuana to relax away the stress of tournament golf.

My guess is that for the very reasons Mike sited in his original blog, drug taking is actually occuring in golf. There's a lot of money at stake and no doubt one or more competitor has been tempted to cheat in this manner.

It's not the same as fixing a result, but it certainly is cheating and cheating is a big scandal in golf. Bottom line: I took the Mike Rogers challenge and lost.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Pro (Sumo) Wrasslin'!? I love the sound of that... $$$$ Ka-ching! $$$

Tor Hershman said...

Sue Larry, sue Curly but ya doesn't hav-ta
sue Moe. said...

Hi Mike,

We could still find some professional sports in which the games are not fixed. Look at UFC which is becoming more and more popular in North America, I really doubt the guy would be kicking the hell out of his opponent while still having the game fixed.