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Otokonoyama

Injuries

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In theory, it's hard to disagree with James' arguments. They make perfect sense...in theory. In actual practice, if top-rankers could disappear from the dohyo for up to a year, the dilemma that led to the abolishment of kosho would mushroom. If the casual fan knows that several ozeki/sanyaku/new young hopes, etc. are going to be off the dohyo for the next 6-12 months, they will have even less reason to get excited about sumo than they had four years ago. One year would never work...so what time frame would? A two-basho kosho rule instead of one? Who knows? Ultimately, we may be stuck with the reality that sumo is what it is - a damn rough and chancy way to make a living. Knowing this may be what draws us to to guys that do it.

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In theory, it's hard to disagree with James' arguments. They make perfect sense...in theory. In actual practice, if top-rankers could disappear from the dohyo for up to a year, the dilemma that led to the abolishment of kosho would mushroom. If the casual fan knows that several ozeki/sanyaku/new young hopes, etc. are going to be off the dohyo for the next 6-12 months, they will have even less reason to get excited about sumo than they had four years ago. One year would never work...so what time frame would? A two-basho kosho rule instead of one? Who knows? Ultimately, we may be stuck with the reality that sumo is what it is - a damn rough and chancy way to make a living. Knowing this may be what draws us to to guys that do it.

You're right...it is difficult to remove the risk of injury from a sport that involves two very large people crashing into each other, and the fact that they risk injury is what makes them so admirable for many people.

And a point I could or should have conceded in the column that is raised here often is that Baruto's speedy rise up the banzuke means his technique often lets him down. A more skilled wrestler wouldn't put his knee in that kind of position... But even so, my basic problem is with oyakata and the kyokai using financial arguments to justify forcing wrestlers into a catch-22. Other sports have players unions and collective bargaining agreements to deal with this kind of thing. I can't imagine the Mariners forcing Ichiro to play injured, or return early from injury, just because he is good box office. So why should sumo get away with it?

Another thing - top guys do disappear all the time - yokozuna - who have the option to take time off to recover from serious injuries. The risk is that if this was extended to everyone, like you say, the banzuke would be empty half the time.

It is a more complicated issue than 700 words on the back of a newspaper can really deal with, but thanks for reading it.

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New guy adding his 2 cents (or Y2.45 if you prefer). I could even agree with limiting their drop down the banzuke to the top/middle of Makushita. Here, when they return, if their injury has properly healed, they would return to sekitori status after one basho. Also the return tournament would be basically a test phase of only 7 matches as opposed to the grueling 15 bouts for sekitori. If you use Baruto as an example, give him 6 months or so of recovery, he returns at, say Ms 15 and goes zensho as most of us would expect, his 2nd basho back he would probably be J10 or 12. Another convincing Juryo yusho like last May would put him right back on track. (I am not worthy...)

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IMO, the problem is not with kosho rules or lack thereof, but with a lack of trust in modern sports medicine and an unwillingness to bite the bullet and take the fall. Of course, I could be just saying this because I'm a Wakanosato fan, and if there's one thing Wakanosato has done, it's not be afraid of taking time off to heal and thus the steep drop. Really, there doesn't need to be any change. More rikishi just need to do that. Not to mention that sumo would be helped by the new blood caused by rikishi turnover.

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IMO, the problem is not with kosho rules or lack thereof, but with a lack of trust in modern sports medicine and an unwillingness to bite the bullet and take the fall. Of course, I could be just saying this because I'm a Wakanosato fan, and if there's one thing Wakanosato has done, it's not be afraid of taking time off to heal and thus the steep drop. Really, there doesn't need to be any change. More rikishi just need to do that. Not to mention that sumo would be helped by the new blood caused by rikishi turnover.

I think I agree with this. I don't think it makes much difference how far down they fall. As long as they're below juryo, they're not getting paid anyway. Even if the fall was limited to juryo, pretty soon juryo would be filled with ex-makuuchi men drawing a salary without competing, and that would be unfair to upper makushita rikishi who would otherwise be promoted up. If a separate division or category was created for the 'recovering' rikishi - whether they were still being paid or not - when they returned to the banzuke, they'd push some other guys back down who had earned a higher rank by doing good sumo - that's not fair either. It's all about how much time they're away from the top division, and it's just something that each rikishi has to decide for himself. There's no easy answer.

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If a separate division or category was created for the 'recovering' rikishi - whether they were still being paid or not - when they returned to the banzuke, they'd push some other guys back down who had earned a higher rank by doing good sumo - that's not fair either.

Why not have them return as Makushita 15 tsukedashi? Something similar was mentioned above. This rank is already used to allow certain qualified amateur sumo athletes a position that recognises their amateur successes. Why not recognise the achievement of sekitori and place them in this position in their return from an injury that would have sent them further down the banzuke than this position? Because it is tsukedashi it does not affect the natural climb/fall of other rikishi, and it allows the return of former sekitori with (generally) two strong basho behind them. This should be enough time to test the injury that they have recovered from, particularly as they are fighting every second day. it also allows them to continue strengthening the affected body part.

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Why not have them return as Makushita 15 tsukedashi? Something similar was mentioned above. This rank is already used to allow certain qualified amateur sumo athletes a position that recognises their amateur successes. Why not recognise the achievement of sekitori and place them in this position in their return from an injury that would have sent them further down the banzuke than this position? Because it is tsukedashi it does not affect the natural climb/fall of other rikishi ...

I could get behind that idea (moreso than James' "bottom of Juryo" alternative), but I do have to nitpick that last statement. It doesn't affect the positioning of other rikishi for the basho in which the returnee is inserted as tsukedashi, but it does have an effect for the next basho because it will crowd upper Makushita even more than usual once the returnee gets a regular rank.

And one possible drawback - it would allow rikishi to keep "testing" their injury status unless it's very strictly regulated...start at Ms15Td, and if you're 1-3 after nakabi, withdraw with an "injury reoccurence" (I'm sure the friendly doctors from the kosho era are still around), and try again from the same rank in two months. Granted, it would come at the risk of aggravating the injury for real, but I suspect most rikishi would be willing to do that in order to save a couple or four months. They're already not taking sufficient time to recover, and the thinking behind the decision to return early probably wouldn't change just because you're returning at Ms15 rather than, say, Sd20. (After all, even at Ms15 your salary is zero.)

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Why not have them return as Makushita 15 tsukedashi?

I like it too with the restriction that the rikishi had to be a sekitori in the last basho in which he participated. An early, but unsuccessful, return even with only one match puts the rikishi in free fall. Injured Makuuchi rikishi retain a half-pay status for up to two basho if they fall below Juryo while injured. This is payable only if they achieve KK on restart at Ms15 tsukedashi.

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Why not have them return as Makushita 15 tsukedashi?

I like it too with the restriction that the rikishi had to be a sekitori in the last basho in which he participated. An early, but unsuccessful, return even with only one match puts the rikishi in free fall. Injured Makuuchi rikishi retain a half-pay status for up to two basho if they fall below Juryo while injured. This is payable only if they achieve KK on restart at Ms15 tsukedashi.

Half-pay for the two basho they'd likely need to get back from Ms15 to Juryo, or for their first two basho sitting out? I wouldn't be a fan of making the pay conditional, at any rate, and I doubt the Kyokai would want to get that far into the performance incentive business either. (I won't mention the Y word...)

While we're handing out tsukedashi rankings - Ms60Td for injured Juryo rikishi? I know everybody's more concerned about the top stars, but the second-division guys are affected just as much.

Edited by Asashosakari

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Half-pay for the two basho they'd likely need to get back from Ms15 to Juryo.

I'll buy that for injured makuuchi. Was concerned that an old maku could declare himself injured, sit out three or four basho until the half pay ran out and then retire. Normally a Juryo going to MK 60 would probably need at least 4 basho to regain pay status after rehab. Think this would be a bit long. Compromise and give him a MS30 tsukedashi with no half pay option. A pay option for Juryo would allow a declining rikishi to game the system.

Edited by Asojima

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Normally a Juryo going to MK 60 would probably need at least 4 basho to regain pay status after rehab. Think this would be a bit long.

I dunno. Getting from Ms15 to Makuuchi would take that long, too. I'm not really trying to get those ex-Juryo back into the paying ranks asap (they're usually not that established there, anyway), just looking to provide for some comparative fairness in how ex-Makuuchi and ex-Juryo would be treated. I think putting them 4-6 (non-zensho) promotions away from their original ranking is fine, for both cases.

For kicks, an anecdotal return from Ms30:

2004.07 Ms30e *-O--OO--O-O-O- 6-1

2004.09 Ms12w -O-OO--O*--OO-- 6-1

2004.11 Ms4e -OO-*-*-O-*---O 4-3

2005.01 Ms1w OO--*O--*O----* 4-3

The only difference between starting from Ms30 and Ms60 is another 6-1 in front of that. And hey, with the potential 7-0 from Ms60 the guy could have gone even higher than he did with 6-1 from Ms30. ;-)

Edited by Asashosakari

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I surely don't want to keep Your ideas from flowing - keep them coming by all means - but if any discussion ever deserved the label "academic" it's this one. ;-)

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