football

Well, it is that time of the year again. The big football sports game is coming up, and we’re all going to spend the day eating fried-things, placing small and unnecessary bets, and rooting against the team we hate least. Yes, that’s right. With the New England Red, White, and Bluers versus the Philadelphia Bird Men, there are a lot of people not necessarily caring about which team wins, so long as it is the team they hate less than the other team. So, its like voting for President, except with less trash-talk.

Now admittedly, we here at the NYRD are nerds, through and through. That does not mean that we don’t understand football, or hockey, or baseball, or badminton, just that we don’t really care. Yet, maybe that uninterested outsiders perspective is just what “real” sports fans need. So, -for once- we are ready to talk football, and not simply just about the commercials.

Sports Rivalries are Dumb
We are from New York, which means we are the home of the New York Average-Sized-Large-Men, and the New York Fast Moving Airplanes. Yes, we are lucky enough to have two football teams along with two or three hockey teams, two baseball teams, one or two basketball teams, -Depending what you consider the Nets to be- a soccer team, and even a lacrosse team. All those teams have rivalries: the NY Bankees hate the Boston Red Stockings, the NY Walker Texas Rangers hate the NJ Satan-Men, etc. So our question is, why? Why is it just as fun to hate other teams as it is to love your own.

According to Art Markman, the Annabel Irion Worsham Centennial Professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas, three things are necessary for a rivalry: Similarity, Frequency, and Parity. Take for example the NY Average-Sized-Large Men (ASLM) and their rivalry with the Philadelphia Bird Men. They are similar, because Philly and New York are major cities in the East and belong to the same football conference. That also means they play each other frequently, and they are on somewhat of an equal footing with one another. At least, in the general sense, there is enough equality of skill to keep games interesting. Yet, this year the ASLM did not make it to the Big Game, while the Bird Men did. So naturally the fans of the ASLM are rooting against the Bird Men to win… but to us that seems a bit dumb.

After all, Philly and NYC are less than 100 miles away form each other, two-hours by car. They have similar values, people, and they even both have a strange hold over New Jersey. If anything Philly and NYC are more alike than Boston and their team, the Red, White, and Bluers. It is even extremely likely that fans of the ASLM are friend with fans of the Bird Men. So why won’t they root for one another? After all, don’t you want your friends to be happy? Don’t you care about their need for whatever-sort-of-spiritual fulfillment socially-adjusted-people get from their sports team winning? Alas, sports rivalries don’t work like that. If anything similarity and friendship only seem to drive them more.

Go Team Sports Jersey!
Another odd predilection of sports fans is that so often it feels as if they are just rooting for a piece of cloth over the actual players. If Huge McSportsmaster is on our team, he is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but the second he gets traded to wearing a green shirt instead of our beloved blue shirt than he is dead to us. “We don’t care if he is skilled and talented and deserving all of the admiration and praise his physical prowess deserves, because he is wearing green instead of blue… So, booo.”

In a way, a team’s jersey seems to be the most sacred cloth one can behold. It is held up above the players, above the coaches, and even above the beer. Disrespecting the jersey seems almost as bad as taking a knee during the National Anthem. If you’re wearing it you are one of us. If you are not wearing it, well then you deserved to be jeered at and threatened with physical violence in the parking lot, or in the stadium’s bathrooms. This seems to be because, wearing your team’s jersey makes people feel a part of something larger. As if by putting on the jersey or cheering for the athletes on the field a fan feels as if they are actually contributing to the winning success of a team. Perhaps the same also applies when deriding fans of other teams.

It is an odd thing to behold as an outsider to this culture. We will perhaps enjoy dressing up as our favorite Star Wars characters or Star Trek characters at conventions, but we do not necessarily take pleasure in shouting down or insulting people in opposing costumes or wearing opposing fandom. In the end a comic convention, regardless of what one is wearing, is about sharing your passions with one another. We would hope a football game could be similar, where people of different regions and teams could come together to eat nachos, drink carbonated beverages, and enjoy the company other people who share their passions, even if they are not precisely dressed in the same attire. However, we also understand that there is a difference between the fulfillment one gets out of being a part of a football team, and the fulfillment one gets out of going to a comic convention.

Running with the Pack(ers)
Did you ever talk with a fan of a team like the Philadelphia Bird Men or the New England Red, White, and Bluers? When talking about the accomplishments of their team they often talk using the word “We:” “We did really great this year,” “I can’t believe we fumbled that pass,” “We got benched for three days with a concussion,” etc. Well, part of that goes to the root of team sports culture in general. We once again turn back to Art Markham, for an examination of this phenomena.

According to the professor, “Family traditions and sports rivalries play two important roles in our lives. They connect us to our past, and they help us to create the family that sustains us in our future.” In essence, sports pride and rivalries are like ancestral traditions passed on through the generations. People cling to their teams in much the same way that they cling to the way their family celebrates Christmas, or goes to the beach every summer, or has pasta Thursdays. Being a fan of the New England Red, White, and Bluers, or the New York ASLM, or the Philly Bird Men, is tradition and it fills a part of a person’s subconscious need to be a part of a familial group, whether that be your own family, or the guy sitting across from you at the bar wearing that very same jersey.

Markham goes on to say that, “When a rivalry disappears, though, it is a real loss. It disconnects us from our past and affects our relationships into the future.” That is because we -as imperfect humans- tend to define ourselves and our groups against the groups we are not. Now, we’ve spent a good part of this article calling “sports rivalries dumb,” but they are actually natural extensions of our need for tribal definition. The truth is that rivalries and sports traditions can actually help the well-being of fans, “Because blood relatives often live far apart, we all need some way to replace that connection that family provides. Those transcendent moments in sports where an entire stadium erupts in cheers create at least a fleeting sense of membership in a larger community.”

The Professional Football League knows this, -just as we know they will sue us if we use any of their copyrighted names or football phrases- and they do their best to keep rivalries in the same divisions and put games with rival football teams in prime time sports. Rivalry is good for their business, because ultimately it gives people something to cheer for and something to cheer against. So, we may not still fully get it, but we do understand it. So we hope you sports fans out there will forgive us for taking good-natured pot-shots at the concept of sports rivalries, but we know that football fans can take it. After all, its nothing as harsh as anything a rival team’s fan would yell to you in a parking lot.

Anyway, pass the fried food and turn on the commercials… err football game.

Olympics

Hello and Valar Morghulis to all our viewers at home.

We want to welcome you back to our final week of coverage and our recap of the Westeros Olympics. It has been an exciting festival of talent and competition this year. Isn’t that right, Chuck?… Chuck?

Hold on, I’m being told that Chuck died. The note I have just been handed says that he was crushed to death by a falling bell after the Sept of Balor exploded. A truly horrible way to go, for such a decorated newsman. Let us have a moment of silence, and now we’re back.

I would like to welcome my guest co-host for today’s report, Ser Bronn of the Blackwater. Welcome, Ser Bronn.

You can cut the Ser, shite.

Right, of course… And now let’s take a look at some of the best and worst moments of these games so far. And as always, if you have not  been keeping up with the games, we want to remind you that there will be spoilers ahead.

10. Opening Ceremonies

Of course, we can’t forget the opening ceremonies, the pageantry, the parade of houses, and the unforgettable national anthem. It was quite a spectacular event. Don’t you agree Bronn?

Oh right. My favorite part was when all those musicians stood up and shot half the Stark team with crossbows. It really was… what word did you use… unforgettable pageantry.

Yes, that was unfortunate, but the Olympic torch burned brighter than I have ever seen it…

Well, it helped that that red witch put that little girl in the flame. I suppose, at least her screams drowned out all the moaning of those dying Stark men. A truly magical event, I’d say.

9. Diving

Well, the first event at least was an show of true poise and grace. The diving event has always been known as one of the most elegant and impressive expressions of sportsmanship and craft that these games have to offer. Taking bronze in the event was team Stark, with a somewhat of a sloppy dive from their young contender Brann.

It looked more like he was pushed to me.

The things we all do for love, but it was nothing compared to the performance by Lysa of team Arryn.

Aye, her screams of terror where truly elegant and impressive. It’s a long way down from that moon door. I know.

That meant that gold went to young Tommen of team Baratheon. His dive was perfect, well timed and with out the usual flailing that you so often get in this event. The audience could not have asked for a better performance and the judges agreed.

It’s only a shame he didn’t actually land in water.

8. Winemanship

This year the competition has been fierce in the wining department. The two strongest competitors by far were Samwise of team Tarly and Viserys of the Targaryen. Now Daenerys, Visery’s own sister, appeared to be a strong contender ever since she lost her dragons, but she is a relative unknown, and quickly got left behind.

Then, old Sammy boy went and found his dragon glass if you know what I mean.

I do not, but that was enough for Visery to find himself on the winner’s podium in this Olympic Wine competition. This seasoned veteran spent most of his time complaining about his lost throne, making vague and empty threats against his sister, even as he was molesting her, and basically perfecting the art of being a complete and utter loser.

He was a dick.

That is why so many people were thrilled to see him finally get the gold. It was certainly a memorable moment when that molten metal was poured over him like the true champion he is.

7. Trial by Combat

Next up is everyone’s favorite competition of these Olympic games, because everyone always seems to request it. Yes, we are talking about Trial by Combat, something my co-host knows a little about. Our viewers at home might remember you from your performance in the Trial by Combat event at the last Westeros Olympics, when you soundly defeated Ser Vardis Egan. What an exciting match that was.

Exciting? I threw his shiny metal arse out into a hundred foot free fall.

Yes, but you got the gold.

Well I got the only gold that matters to me. The shiny stuff I can use to pay for drink and women.

Yes, well this year’s gold medalist was Ser Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. This giant of a man had his Lannister team worried for a bit as it looked like the underdog from team Martell, Oberyn, might walk away with the prize.

Ehh, that flashy pole dancer never stood a chance. All that jumping around and twirling. It looks good, but take it from me, that sort of shite is just a fancy way to die.

Well that is something that The Mountain certain drove home to Oberyn during their match.

Aye, he drove it home through his head?

6. Boating

Of course, the one event that people will be talking about for years to come with these Westros Olympics is the tragedy of the Boating competition. Stannis of team Baratheon looked like he had it all sowed up, but as we well know that was not meant to be.

Well it boats tend not to work when they’re o fire

Yes, it seems that due to pollution and flammable nature of the harbor Stannis’ victory was cut short, but it could have been worse. He could have caught Zika. So, by default the win went to the brother and sister team of Theon and Yarra of the Greyjoys.

I thought her name was Asha?

I don’t think it really matters. What does matter is that these two are making people stand up and take notice.

Aye, it’s a shame that Theon can no longer… you know… stand up and take notice.

A shame indeed, Bronn, a shame indeed.

5. Archery

One of the most traditional sports in these games is the Archery competition, and there have been many contenders in this category. Everyone from Joffrey of Baratheon to Myranda of team Bolton to those musicians who killed the Stark team. All have tried their hands at this event.

Aye, and most have died horrible deaths.

It does seem that if you live by the arrow than you die by the arrow, and that was certainly the fact for our bronze medal contender. Ygritte of the Wildling nation was a fan favorite here for a long time. She proved her archery skills by killing Pip a beloved friend of one Jon Snow, but he knew nothing about that. Unfortunately, she fell herself to an arrow by another contender, Olly of the Night’s Watch. The silver medal went to Ramsey of team Bolten for taking down a giant, but even that feat couldn’t  hold a candle to the gold medalist in this competition, Tyrion of team Lannister.

You got love that little sod. He pays well too.

Well a Lannister always pays his debts and he certainly proved that when he put one right between the heart of his father, Tywin. It was a moment that made the crowds cheer and question if killing someone on the toilet was going perhaps a bit too far.

I’d say that matters if they were done or not.

Thank you for that visual, Bronn.

4. 400 Meter Dash

There is only one name everyone is talking about in this event, Rickon of team Stark.

Poor little bastard.

As many of our viewers have pointed out on social media this scrappy Olympic Stark contender should have zigged when he instead zagged and paid the price in a heart breaking loss. It was a tragic end for this Cinderella story.

I mean c’mon. Serpentine patterns. Don’t they teach folks nothing up in those fancy castles.

Truer words were never spoken.

3. Pie Eating Contest

The pie eating contest is an honored and time-worn tradition of these Olympic games. For years the man to beat was the relatively unknown, Hot Pie.

I mean c’mon, it’s in the kids name.

True, but that was until this year when a new champion took home the gold, Joffrey of team Baratheon. He proved that no person out there could eat a pie like him.

Nor choke to death on one neither.

Sadly, during his gold medal attempt the young Baratheon boy choked to death on the very pie that won him the competition, turning as blue as the blueberries that were baked into the award winning pastry.

2. Scheming

This competition was neck and neck from the start, with Tywin of team Lannister seeming like the clear winner until his run was cut short.

Yeah, much like his shite.

Taking up his crown was his daughter Cersei, and certainly Eddard of team Stark would agree that she is a worthy opponent. Poor Ned finished dead last in this competition. It was the kind of performance where you just know heads are going to roll. Yet for Cersei, she found herself quickly faltering by making shaky alliances with religions and then resorting to naked terrorism in order to solver her problems.

Aye, but its effective.

True, but not the mark of a master schemer. Still, it was enough to land her the bronze in this Olympic event. The man known as Varys, on the other hand, showed that he is a master manipulator. He has expertly proved he could move pieces around the chess board whether they be Lannister, Targaryen or even Martell. Yet the silver medalist did not have the selfish ambition of our gold medalist, Petyr of team Arryn. Petyr, also known as Littlefinger, has proven himself a fierce competitor. He has plans within plans and even when his pawns think they have escaped his machinations they still find themselves calling upon him and his army of Arryn soldiers to bail them out of a slaughter at the gates of Winterfell.

He’s a prick.

Also true, but he is an effective one. It has earned him gold for now, but we’ll just have to wait and see if it ever earns him the iron.

1.Riding

One of the most exciting competitions to be held each Olympics is the riding competition, and I have to say Bronn that the Dothraki team made a strong showing. Many thought they would sweep this competition.

Well, they should. I mean they do everything but f**K their horses.

We’re on network TV, Bronn, not HBO. You can’t say those types of words here.

Well that’s just f**king perfect than isn’t it?

Unfortunately the Dothraki team was bested by none other than Daenerys of the Targaryen team. She has earned a gold medal that has been a long time in coming. For too long it looked like this girl was just going to live in obscurity, content to sit on the sidelines as the rest of the teams vied for dominance in this year’s Olympics. Up until this point many agreed that she has not living up to her potential.

Aye, but she is a cute little wench. I wouldn’t mind it if she rode me, if you know what I mean.

No, but it worth remembering that she is riding a dragon, Bronn.

I never said I was dumb enough to ask. I tend to like my girls a little less, fire proof.

Well that is all the time we have for you tonight. This has been the Westeros Olympics. So for all of us here in King’s Landing I am Mike Michelson here with Ser Bronn of the Blackwater wishing a good night and a safe tomorrow. If you missed any of the great events don’t worry we’ll be back in another two years for games such as Whitewalker Wrestling and Freestlye Wildling Skiing, because remember: Winter is Coming.