|The Birth of Sumo Dude - a nod to Botticelli|
It's almost two years now since the Sumo match-fixing scandal went public. Remember that? A winning wrestler would offer another a victory just so to keep his higher title (and higher-bracket paycheck). This was happening often. In fact, according to Levitt from Freakonomics, there was a 75 percent chance a 7-7 (wins/losses) Sumo wrestler would win against an 8-6 wrestler in a tournament. This means that every time the opportunity appeared for a 7-7 wrestler to lose, not advance in the tournament, and lose money, that wrestler won 75 percent of the time. So, that's like a 50 percent chance of cheating, huh?
The word 八百長, or yaochou, is the Japanese word for "match-fixing". The kanji literally translate to "800 leaders". Hmm, I don't get it. But that often happens when you're learning Japanese.
Prior to the big press stink, often a related skirmish would surface concerning some foreign Sumo wrestler. The truth is though, "the Japanese-born seemed to be just as corrupt as the foreigners" according to the statistics (source). I guess when someone got wind of the cheating, everyone tried to use the foreigner as the scapegoat. Oh, Japan.
This isn't just a problem of xenophobia either. The Japanese media is very conservative and likes to protect the country's image. Here's another clip from Freakonomics:
The moral of the story: go watch Freakonomics and check out their blog.