Sumo Wrestlers Given iPads To Use As .. Phones?

Japan’s Jiji news service in association with France’s AFP reports this week from Tokyo that the Japan Sumo Association distributed 60 iPads to the 51 Sumo “training stables” to improve communication between wrestlers and association officials.

iPad Rex Ryan

(Do Sumo iPads come fully loaded?)

Why iPads? Because the giants of the sport claim to be unable to use cell phones and typical computers because of the size of their fingers. Really.

It’s a giant leap for a super-sized sport that has until now relied on old-school modes of telephone and fax machines.

“It seems rather easy to use,” association chief Hanaregoma said following a brief training session on the popular tablet gadget. “Sending emails was very easy.”

A digital novice himself, the 62-year-old former wrestler admitted that while he can read incoming text messages on his mobile phone, he doesn’t know how to write replies and does not usually use a computer.

Such a heartwarming story. Sadly though, a much more insidious problem was the primary reason for the technology advancement by Japanese Sumo.

From the AFP:

Sumo officials decided to go digital and buy iPads as the ancient sport attempts to mend its ways after scandals over wrestlers’ ties with gangsters and illegal gambling, match-fixing and brutal hazing of apprentices.

The sport’s authorities faced loud public criticism for their clumsy efforts to investigate the scandals, in part due to insufficient sharing of information among sumo leaders.

With a reliance on faxes and phone calls, the sumo association has occasionally failed to distribute urgent messages to its officers and stable masters.

“If we place this (iPad) in all the stables, we should be able to contact them anytime,” the association’s spokesman Nishonoseki has said.

I’m sure it wasn’t lost on Japanese authorities that the people involved in the gambling rings may have deliberately stemmed the use of email and cellphones in order to maintain secrecy and limit paper trails.

In other words, had the iPad been invented when Pete Rose was managing, he might not be detouring to sign bingo cards at an Indian Casino before being honored by the Reds on Sept. 11 for the the 25th anniversary of his 4,192nd hit.