Dear Nihon Sumo Kyokai:
Beyond my frustration and disappointment with everything going on; as a fan of this sport, I want desperately to see positive changes made. I want to see you earn back the trust of the general public at home and abroad. This is necessary now more than ever, as you are losing even the trust of your biggest fans. I believe a lot of the current problems you face are in directly relation to how you have chosen to respond to change.
As times change organizations must also change. The Sumo Association is no exception. Below I have listed two simple things that could be done inexpensively to not only clean things up in your association, but also increase sumo’s popularity in Japan.
1. Create a new rank for first-time Oyakatas (retired rikishi, other retired members of the association) where they must travel the country for one year as a volunteer: visiting schools, local sumo clubs, and other public events to improve public relations with the people of Japan. There is no doubt that these individuals could do a great deal of good for the sport.
Just imagine for a moment if this was Kitazakura’s job right now, instead of being a security guard. The number of people he could reach and influence would be unprecedented. What’s more, his encounters would be even more meaningful because it would mean he was meeting not only fans of the sport but also children and young adults who have never watched sumo. Simple community involvement can change perspectives and the current trend.
2. Simply put: expel oyakata, rikishi, and other members from your association if they are found to be associated with Organized Crime. This should also go for members caught committing crimes with serious legal implications. Period. These penalties should be the same for all rikishi and oyakata regardless of who they are.
I am one of many fans out there who wants desperately to see the Nagoya Basho, and the reputation of the your association to improve. If you happen to read this and like my suggestions please use them and call them your own. I believe strongly that a more adaptable and altruistic Japan Sumo Association can earn the trust of its fans through service and good deeds. Now is not a time for politics as usual, but direct and understandable action. I look forward to seeing how you chose to respond in the months ahead, and I wish you the best of luck.