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Here’s a breakdown of the best sports-talk about ‘Game of Thrones’ this season

todayAugust 25, 2017

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Maybe it’s because it falls on a Sunday night, traditionally the time when we’re watching football. Or perhaps it’s because this season of “Game of Thrones” is nothing but battles to set up more battles. Or maybe it’s just because we use sports analogies for almost everything these days (just look at how we speak about politics). But sports-talk has dominated what’s been written and said about “Game of Thrones” these past six weeks.

Ahead of Sunday’s season finale, let’s untangle several sports references the show has conjured in Season 7, some of which could play a significant role in the series’ future.

Warning: Spoilers abound.

‘Gendry made like Pheidippides’

As Jon Snow and Co. were trapped on a rock encircled by a frozen lake and about a million zombies, Gendry Blacksmith (or whatever his last name is) was sprinting full-steam to send an S.O.S. raven to Daenerys. “You’re the fastest,” Jon had told King Robert Baratheon’s bastard son as he sent him off to the races in Episode 6. And how right the King in the North was proved! Gendry’s run was ludicrously far and fast — one site crunched the numbers and concluded “he seemed to be running for about four to five hours at least”while noting that the distance traveled seems to stretch much further. Even the episode’s director Alan Taylor admitted they were trying to “fudge the timeline” and perhaps “straining plausibility a little bit.”

Despite all the ground Gendry needed to cover, not to mention dispatching the raven and awaiting the Khaleesi’s airstrike, Jon and friends “sort of spent one dark night on the island in terms of storytelling moments,” Taylor told Variety. Thus, Gendry’s record-setting gallop caused more than a few writers to recall Greek history in referencing the legend of Pheidippides, a messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens (about 40 kilometers, or 25 miles) to deliver word of a battle victory against the Persians. This feat led to Pheidippides being credited as the father of the marathon. Both the Ringer (“Gendry [made] like Pheidippides … hauling [tail] back to Eastwatch for help”) and the New York Times (“Gendry made like Pheidippides — he’s a better runner than rower”) made note, while Indie Wire and a Reddit thread pointed out the symmetry between Gendry’s collapse at the Eastwatch gate and the original tale of Pheidippides, which concludes with the messenger heroically delivering his triumphant news — before collapsing and dying.

With this season’s plot in hyper-speed, with characters crisscrossing Westeros as if they’re simply walking across Cersei’s floor map, can we expect more marathon moments that defy space and time? In the meantime, we’re still wondering how exactly Gendry worked up his leg strength after spending all those years rowing around the Seven Kingdoms. There probably isn’t enough time remaining to dig into that plot hole.

The Night King’s incredible arm

In “Beyond the Wall,” the Night King and his perfectly tossed ice-spear javelin did what Cersei and Qyburn could not with their silly wooden spear doohickey: take out one of Daenerys’s dragons (there seems to be a consensus that the felled beast was Viserion). In remarking on his throwing skills, Mashable wrote that “this guy can wing it like Uwe Hohn” while the New York Times went a similar route, saying “the Night King revealed himself to be the Uwe Hohn of the Known World.” Both writers went deep on the sports references to name-check Hohn, the only athlete to throw a javelin more than 100 meters and a man who set the world record with a 1984 throw in which no dragons were killed.

The Ringer took the javelin thing a step further, talking to three-time U.S. Olympian Kara Winger about the Night King’s form. She praised his windup, but, clearly, the show’s creators were not striving for proper javelin form after that (results be darned).

“He has no speed coming into the throw; he’s not nearly patient enough with his upper body to generate dragon-killing force,” said Winger, who has read all five “Game of Thrones” books. “He shortens the arm at the last second, and he loses his chest — he doesn’t keep the tension, as we say.”

Even the actual U.S. Olympic team was impressed.

But when it comes to sports references and the Night King’s magic arm, you knew the New York Jets would figure into this thing.

The Night King could trade in hunting the living for the NFL, where it just so happens that author George R.R. Martin’s favorite team could use a quarterback.


Hey, he has a high motor.

He isn’t the only “GoT” character with a future in the NFL, either.

Of course, the fact that the Night King is so talented with an ice-spear has huge, terrifying ramifications within the show itself. He now has a zombie dragon in his employ, which he can ride (cue the Kentucky Derby jokes) while simultaneously picking off the two other dragons with his javelin tosses. This show is coming down to a living vs. dead, dragons vs. dragon duel. And worst of all, the leader of the White Walkers has one hell of an arm.

The Cleganebowl!

As if all that weren’t enough, there is the very real, very delicious possibility that bowl season has arrived early this year.

The first mention of the somewhat clumsily dubbed “Cleganebowl” — one mega-clash between The Hound and The Mountain for all the Tostitos — appears to date from a message board in 2013, so a payoff now would be satisfying. Perhaps the Season 7 finale? If not this year, well, there’s always the final Season 8. Given that brothers Sandor “The Hound” Clegane and Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane are still alive with only seven total episodes of the series left, the two have to square off. They just have to, darn it.

It’s a classic little brother-big brother battle (Michigan State-Michigan?), one that has been anticipated since the moment The Hound fled King’s Landing after the Battle of the Blackwater and The Mountain was resurrected via the dark arts after his supposed death during a trial-by-combat battle with Oberyn Martell. The backstory on the two bros is that, when they were children, The Hound’s face was melted in a fire by his brother as punishment for playing with one of his toys. There’s 100-percent pure hatred here. As Esquire points out, the two did briefly clash in the first season, when The Mountain was beaten in a jousting contest by Ser Loras Tyrell and ambushed him. The Hound stepped up to fight his brother, but King Robert Baratheon stopped the match.

And now, with The Hound and Co. heading south to meet with Queen Cersei and her enormous zombie bodyguard for the Season 7 finale, the most anticipated fight since Mayweather-McGregor (ironically the same weekend!) could be upon us.


Dany is blowing a three-dragon lead

In another building plotline, Daenerys Targaryen and everyone’s favorite bastard, Jon Snow, appear to be in deep smit with one another. They made googly eyes with each other in the penultimate episode of the season, with some sort of consummation (as well as a political and military alliance) on the horizon. Ordinarily, this would be pretty creepy because everyone believes that Daenerys is Jon Snow’s aunt, which would definitely put the “ew” in nephew. But this is “Game of Thrones,” where the Lannister twins have actually had children together (with another on the way, if Cersei is to be believed).

At any rate, Dany is crushing big-time, probably spelling her name “Dani” and dotting the “i” with a heart. So all would appear to be well, except for that darn overconfidence thing. She has — ahem, had — three dragons until Uwe “the Night King” Hohn figured out that the best defense is a good offense. And now she has one less dragon than when she held a 3-0 dragon lead.

This, of course, resembles what happened with the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Indians, two teams that blew commanding 3-1 leads in their respective championship series last year.

But remember what happened to those Warriors that blew a 3-1 lead? They went out and signed a dragon, then scorched the rest of the NBA.

Coach Jon Snow would probably get himself fired after one season

If Dany’s new boyfriend were a coach, well, let’s just say that he might be Rich Kotite.

The King of the North took a motley band of men north of the wall to capture a zombie White Walker to show Crazy Queen Cersei, thereby convincing her to join in the epic battle of the living vs. the dead (a.k.a. the Red Sox-Yankees; you decide which is which). This seemed idiotic because the Magnificent Seven plus what Uproxx’s Alan Sepinwall refers to as a bunch of redshirt Wildlings took off without hats and were badly outmanned by the zombies. To paraphrase Duke fan Ben Swain, Jon Snow can recruit, but he stinks as an Xs and Os guy.



Written by: New Generation Radio

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