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Is there a sumo in your future?

Mark FidrychThe Bird
I used to avert my imagination on the subject of Sumo Wrestling. Probably I still do, visualization wise. But the bigger than grotesque spectacle has suddenly fascinated me, as a historic predecessor of the wide world of sport of our future.

How odd that a tiny bonsai-grown island people fixate on professional athletes multiple times a normal human size.

It seems so inorganic, to cheer for man-hippos, instead of competitors made from our own image. After all, we cheer for home teams, not cross town rivals.

But sports fans are coming round once again to see their hero athletes for the super humans they need to be, to impress us with their superhuman feats.

Might I suggest that for a brief democratic period, baseball offered more than an illusion, that a neighborhood hero could emerge from the most unassuming physique. Today Americans recognize that professional athletes are no longer improved versions of us. Real winners are crafted by genetics and unimaginable dedication, for their superhuman destinies.

Our insistence that athletes cannot use steroids therefore seems to me awkwardly unreasonable. Doping levels the playing field, for aspirants up against genetics.

That viewers recognize the well demarcated expectations of the differing athlete body types, became no more clear to me than in this year’s Super Bowl, when a Steelers linebacker carried the ball from end zone to end zone, dodging not only his pursuers, but the book maker’s handicap as well.

Even Saturday Night Live parodied the feat, although their urban comedy cannot be said to snub the NFL certainly. Weekend Update portrayed the beleaguered James Harrison as still out of breath, a full week after SB XLIII. It seems even SNL knows that non-sports watchers would recognize that Harrison’s 100 yard triumph was over and above what a non-running football position could be called upon to do.

It could almost have been an ordinary Japanese man facing a Sumo. That would be populist fantasy, but not sport.

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