Today, on this beautiful Veterans Day, I would simply like to salute all of the veterans of the United States Armed Forces. It is not an easy job to be a soldier nor is it necessary for anyone in this country to voluntarily pick up the mantle of the soldier, but these men and women have bravely chosen to serve and protect the people and interests of this country. Veterans Day is the day we use to honor our service men and women, and while I have never considered joining the military, I have a great respect for everyone who is willing to go through the strenuous routine of a soldier in the name of their country. This day was made to recognize the veteran, but I think this country really needs to do more to show the appreciation we have for vet. I am not going to go as far as saying every veteran should get a free home, but I do believe the treatment we show vets on this day should be a standard in order for these brave individuals to fully understand the gratitude this country has towards them, and to thank them for their sacrifices for the freedoms we enjoy.
Fantasy football is a fickle little game. I posted before about how fantasy football has gained a significant following in recent years, and along with that following has come the online gambling that is weekly fantasy games. Weekly fantasy football leagues are the heavily advertised and not at all regulated flavor of the week. If you have ever watched any sporting event or even turned on a television show that is geared towards millennials, you probably have seen the countless ads for Fanduel and Draftkings, which are the two competing fantasy for money websites. These companies advertise a chance to win millions for dollars, by simply picking your favorite players and enjoying the games you love, but this week both companies have come under fire for the actions of their employees. An employee of Draftkings won $350,000 from Fanduel after leaking sensitive information about player ratings, then using that data to his benefit. The knowledge this employee had on players and the similarity of the two companies gave this individual a distinct and unfair advantage over his competition. Both fantasy companies have since barred their employees from playing on either site, but there are more issues with these games than just “insider trading.” The problem with these fantasy sports betting sites is that they are completely unregulated. I am not the biggest fan of government regulation, but these companies are controlling way too much money to be able to freely share data with employees who have a chance to make a financial gain from it. Many people have called these websites the new stock market, I just hope this whole fantasy sports betting thing doesn’t get out of hand. Too many people have too much at stake when it comes to sports betting and this whole ordeal may run them the wrong way. I expect some sort of regulation to come out of this mess within the next few months, but until then, I would be wary of putting money into fantasy sports.
The Pope’s much anticipated trip to the United States has come and gone, and it was quite a showing here on the east coast. Pope Francis, who is affectionately known as “the people’s pope,” was welcomed with cheers and signs, a sight that was more reminiscent of a concert or sporting event than of the arrival of a religious figure. During this trip, Pope Francis did many things that no other pope has ever done including speaking in front of congress, and while this man is seen as a different kind of pope by many, he has kept to the teachings that the Catholic Church has stood by for many centuries, and that comes as no surprise to me. For some reason the media felt as though it was the Pope’s duty to rewrite the teachings that he has followed for decades, many reporters thought this man would come to the United States and tell all Catholics to change theirs beliefs in order to fit the norms of the current era. I am not a Catholic, but I found it a bit funny and somewhat ludicrous that the mainstream media felt that the Pope would completely change the church that he has been part of for most of his life, in order to make our pop culture centric society more comfortable. In my opinion Pope Francis did exactly what he set out to do on this trip, he wanted to show that he is caring and compassionate, he wanted people to see the faith that he professes in action rather than by words alone. I personally may not agree with everything the Pope says, but the compassion he showed to the sick, the homeless, and the imprisoned is incontestable. I am happy that the country was willing to welcome the Pope as it did, hopefully his actions will resonate with the citizens of this nation, and people here would be willing to be more companionate and helpful to each other for years to come.
As expected, the NFL season opener was an offensive masterpiece, well at least for the New England Patriots. Tom Brady threw for 4 touchdowns as I predicted, but my prognostication of a Steelers win was incorrect. This weekend has been quite busy for me, due to it being wedding season apparently, so today while I have a bit of time, I would simply like to give my picks for week one of this year’s NFL action. The NFL is back and in full swing, this Sunday there will finally be a full slate of NFL games, and the fun will continue for the rest of the year. I will start my picks with the Packers beating the Bears by a wide margin, Aaron Rodgers is too good for the depleted Bears defense. The Chiefs will beat the Texans in a low scoring, possibly boring game. The Jets will will manage to handle the much weaker Browns in another low scoring matchup. The Colts will beat the Bills, but the game will be much closer than many expect. I’m picking the Dolphins over the Redskins, the Panthers over the Jaguars, and the Lions over the Chargers. The ever powerful Seahawks will have no trouble defeating the Rams, as their is a huge disparity in their offensive talent, and the Cardinals will defeat the Saints in what looks to be a close matchup. The Buccaneers will defeat the Titans, in a highly anticipated first meeting of rookie quarterbacks, I expect both of the league’s newest additions to play in a manner that proves they deserve to play at this level of football. I have the Raiders winning over the Bengals in a slight upset, and the Broncos beating the Ravens. In the prime time matchups we will see three great games, the first being my New York Giants facing the dreaded Dallas Cowboys, I am expecting the Giants to win in an extremely close and exciting game. As for the Monday night games, I have the Falcons beating the Eagles in a surprise blowout, and the Vikings defeating the 49ers in dominant fashion. Well there goes my picks for this week’s games, I will return with another blog post tomorrow, as I recover from this multiple wedding weekend.
Today marks the 14th anniversary of the terrible events that took place at the World Trade Center. Many people would say the world has changed since 9/11 and unless you were actually old enough to remember the events, that idea will sound odd, but the world is actually a much different place today. I honestly can’t say 9/11 changed everything, since we have had immense advancements in science and technology, but I will say it absolutely changed this country’s perception on safety. Thinking back to the summer prior to the terrible events of that day, I was just a kid going on my first international trip, it was my first time on a plane, and there was nothing to worry about. I remember being able to board the plane with very little hassle, almost no restrictions, and being able to look right into the cockpit from my seat. Everything I remember from that first international flight experience is now completely archaic. Ever since that day, our country has been on a seemingly endless war to bring those responsible for these acts to justice, and we as a country have been kept in relative darkness in terms of what is going on. In a sense the world is a different place because we no longer have our artificial certainty of tomorrow. Before 9/11, nobody thought as hard about their travels as they do today, I wouldn’t say life was simpler because I was just a kid at the time, but from my standpoint, I know my parents kept a “longer leash” on me and my siblings before those events. In the 14 years since 9/11 the city has begun to rebuild and the scenery of Lower Manhattan has changed, but those who have been lost are definitely not forgotten. Many things have changed over the last 14 years, but the bravery of the first responders, and the impact of the lives of those lost that day will always be remembered as they once were. Today as America remembers the worst event on our soil, and how it changed everything, I hope the memory of those lost stays the same in the minds and hearts of their friends and loved ones.
Today is Labor Day, the day made to celebrate the hard work of “laborers” all over America. Labor Day is celebrated on the first Monday of September, at a time that is perfect for anyone needing a rest from their busy summer schedule. I love having the ability to enjoy a national day off, but unfortunately there are many people who have to work on this great holiday. There are some jobs that are completely essential to running this society correctly, so I understand the idea of having them work today, but many people in non essential jobs should definitely have this day as a break. The class of job that I am referring to is the dreaded retail job. Retail work is the way of life for almost 1/4th of Americans, and this number seems to be growing exponentially. There was a time that I worked retail for a while, and I can honestly say that retail work, while it does pay, may be the thing I actually detest the most. I remember working a few retail jobs while I was in college, and just enjoying the fact that I had some spending money, but when I worked a bit of retail after graduation, I knew that it was definitely not for me. There was a time when retail work was seen as a temporary solution, or as a job for teenagers, but in this economy it has become a staple for many people and families. I understand that many need to work retail, I just wish retail companies wouldn’t exploit their employees. On this day that marks the necessity of our country’s labor force, many people have to work extended hours in order to satisfy company goals. Retail workers today are not always treated very fairly, and they have very little job security. I know that all companies are not the same, and that retail was not built to be a long term career, but I find it absurd that so little has changed in the world of retail over the years. I have never been one to call for unionization, and I don’t think retail workers should even be in a union, I just think that more changes should be made to make work more fair for retail workers. Labor Day celebrates the work of our country’s citizens, hopefully one day, retail will be more regulated to allow for better treatment of their overworked workforce.
I am about a day late on this, but I have to congratulate the U.S. Women’s National Team for their World Cup victory. The U.S. team managed to dismantle Japan in the finals, as they coasted to a 5 – 2 victory behind the power of an early hat trick by Carli Lloyd. The final game was surprisingly watchable, considering how ugly it was early on, the U.S. Team managed to score four goals in about 15 minutes. The scoring in this game happened so quickly that I didn’t even have time to turn on a television before the U.S. was up 3 – 0. I have to commend Japan for staying in the game and keeping it competitive even though they were down by four, there were even times in the game that I thought I would see a comeback, but the U.S. wisely held their lines and kept to the game plan. The major story of this year’s Women’s World Cup was gender equality. The women who played in this tournament not only played as hard as the men, but they also put on just as good of a show. I watched quite a few games if this tournament and I can honestly say that soccer is a sport in which the intensity of the women’s game often surpasses that of the men. FIFA needs to take a close look at what went on this summer in Canada, and they need to start paying the women better and treating the athletes with more respect. I know that women’s sports in general does not get the level of coverage of the male variation, but I believe that this World Cup, and the way all of the qualifying teams played, has done a great job in showing just how competitive and exciting women’s sports can be.
Happy Independence Day! On this day, 239 years ago, the leaders of the 13 colonies decided to sign the Declaration of Independence and become the United States of America, effectively ending their relationship as one of the colonies of the then British Empire. Today is a day filled with parades, pageants, contests, and barbecues, just as the second president of the U.S., John Adams, wanted it to be, but this day is way more important than just a sunny summer vacation day. This day marks the end of years of struggle being the “lackey” of a far away empire, this day marks a moment when a group of men running colonies decided to become one united nation. Now, I know that this nation has not been perfect, and that through the years many mistakes have been made, but I can honestly say there are things that I can do here that I just couldn’t do in other parts of the world. America is truly a great nation and I hope it continues to be a refuge for freedom and liberty. Happy fourth of July everybody!
Memorial Day is a federal holiday dedicated to remembering those who died while fighting for their country. Many people see this day as a time to take a vacation or a time for barbecues, and while it is fine to have a day off from work, I believe everyone should take a second to think about the soldiers who fought for this country. Since World War 1 there has been over 600,000 U.S. Military deaths, and with the current conflicts going on worldwide that number is slowly rising. It is terrible that so many young men and women are dying everyday to defend their country, but that seems to be the sad price for freedom. I don’t like the idea of war but I am not a pacifist, I understand that in order for there to be peace, there must be a struggle. I hope this country can live peaceably within itself in order to honor the lives of those who fought to preserve it, and use today as an example that we have not forgot the bravery of those fallen troops.
Baseball, one of America’s oldest sports, is finally going through some changes. There is a new commissioner in town and he is looking to make his mark on the aging sport. Rob Manfred, in his first year as commissioner, has already implemented a new countdown clock in efforts to speed up the game, and now he is looking to shorten the season. I love the idea of shortening the season, I think it is perfect for the fans, and for the players who have to endure 183 days away from their families. Baseball currently has a 162 game season, and in some divisions the games are no longer competitive after about 90 games. Aside from no longer having to watch a team run away with a pennant, I would be glad to see players getting the chance to spend more time with their families and away from the troubles of traveling. It is early in the Manfred era, but as a casual baseball fan I am excited about the changes he is bringing the sport. I am confident that under the leadership of Manfred, baseball will once again be known as “America’s Sport,” and I am eager to see what other changes he has in store for the old ball game.