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I Didn’t Want To Write This: A Veteran Turned Pro Gamblers Perspective On “Flag-Gate”

players-kneeling-flag-gate

So here’s a little known fact about your boy. Before I handicapped sports full time and made the leap to moving to Vegas, I was in the Coast Guard for 9 years. From when I turned 18 until age 27 to be exact. Now let’s get this out of the way. I didn’t do any tours in Iraq or Afghanistan. You’re opinion on the legitimacy of The Coast Guard as a full fledged military organization is one that you are more than welcome to have your own opinion on.

I’m not going to try to sway you one way or another. Here’s what I do know. I never left the United States while in The Coast Guard, but I missed countless holidays, birthdays, family events–you name it while being employed by them over 9 years. I’ve been a part of over 300 search and rescue missions, and they are employed by the Department Of Defense.

Vet Turned Pro Gambler

The whole reason I’m writing this somewhat stems from the fact that I don’t know of many people who actually were employed by the military and then turned into a professional sports watcher, which is somewhat a big part of what professionally gambling on sports entails. Less than 1% of the population served in the military, and I would wager that even less than that are professional gamblers, so it looks like I’m the best you’ve got for this.

Like the title says, I honestly didn’t want write this. I despise politics truthfully. I don’t even despise them in the sense that people say they hate politics because it divides them. What I mean is, I’m not a politics guy. This is going to sound shallow and selfish, but to be truthful not much of it truly effects myself personally at this point. If Trump wants to legalize sports gambling, then maybe I’ll get my opinion in there, but the people that it truly affects, soldiers, congressmen, etc is a world I’m not really a part of anymore. Yes, I’m white. I know I can never know the racial inequality going on in this country to the effect that some can, but I’m getting to that.

Daily Fantasy & The Coast Guard

For anyone that knows me, they know I learned how to play daily fantasy and handicap sports while serving in The Coast Guard. For all the action movies, TV shows, and ideas you have regarding the military and its fast paced lifestyle, the truth is there’s a lot of down time. There’s a lot of babysitting involved, whether it be people, structures, buildings, weapons, vehicles, you name it.

Again, I want to make this clear, had I been in another branch and been on deployment out of the country with no internet, TV, or the things people take for granted, I wouldn’t have had this opportunity. The Coast Guard is somewhat like a fire department, a police station and The Army had a child to be honest. When we have calls or patrols, there’s nothing more important. That being said, when there’s downtime, some people played cards, went to school online, and some people worked out. I learned how to handicap sports.

Sports Is An Escape

Here’s the thing about this when you’re in that world the way I was. Sports is something of an escape the same way that it is an escape for the normal American that lives the 9-5 life in the cubes online all day and has an office pick ’em pool or an office fantasy football league that Nancy from accounting has won 4 years running.

It’s an escape from whatever you’re trying to take a break from. It lets us reset. I can’t speak for all other branches, although from schooling and deployments within the United States, I know for a first hand other members of other branches feel the same way. It just lets us unwind, it lets you have a feeling of normalcy, even if you’re on assignment in say Virginia, watching The Patriots for a kid in Boston was so important to someone like me every Sunday even before I had any significant skin in the game.

Here’s my main point. I want politics and sports kept separate. Now, the other side of that is the “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” argument. There are so many eyes on any sport in this day in age, but don’t kid yourselves. The NFL has taken over from baseball as America’s pastime.

If athletes can use those eyeballs to bring change in the world for causes such as military awareness, breast cancer, hurricane relief, or any one of the causes that promote positive change, than the argument can be made that this specific issue has to be included. Here’s where I differ and would offer up something of a hot take. No one even knows what the hell they are protesting by taking a knee during the national anthem anymore. 

To take an page from an article posted by sbnation regarding the timeline of Colin Kaepernick’s initial kneel in the 2016 pre-season and who is the one who is widely regarded as the one who started this movement. Please look at what he was actually protesting.


Kaepernick-flag-gate

How in the hell did we go from that to what is going on now? I get it, Trump basically declared war on The NFL, which united the owners and players in a way that I don’t think anyone ever saw coming. I just think players have moved on from the initial message of Kaepernick onto what their own agenda is now.

The National Anthem isn’t a symbol of the military. The military has their own songs for each branch. The National Anthem isn’t even a symbol of the president, but the argument can be made that it’s a symbol for democracy, which elected Trump. So to be clear, we’re protesting the fact that in an election, we don’t like who was appointed?

Not A Politics Guy

Again, I’m not a “politics guy.” The most I know about politics is watching Frank Underwood murder people on House Of Cards. The way that stock brokers wake up in the morning and turn on whatever channel you can see the market on, I turn on ESPN. The way that people who work in the white house turn on CNN, I turn on ESPN. Here’s my beef. Every sports channel in the world has now gone full cross market into talking about players kneeling for the national anthem. I’m using ESPN as an example, but I’m sure you’ve found it to be the same with whatever local market TV show you watch, or whatever podcast you listen to.

I’m just asking them to keep it separate. I can hear you know, “So you think watching highlights and winning your stupid gambling bets is more important than players kneeling for The National Anthem?” No, man. That’s not it at all. I just think that this saga has caused us to get away from what sports to most people are, an escape. Twitter during the Sunday NFL slate was impossible to navigate without every aspect of talking about the flag and what was going on.

All I am saying is I want to watch the best college and professional athletes in the world do what they are payed to do, play at the highest level and entertain us. After that, it’s a little bit selfish on my end. I want to hear what the best analysts in the world get paid to do, break down how we got to a specific outcome. Is that too much to ask?

A jack of all trades, Christian got his start in the gambling industry using a model to predict players performance in daily fantasy sports. Eventually, he used that same model to cross over into NFL handicapping, specifically the prop market and honed his craft enough to cross over from player projections into every aspect of sports Handicapping. He then made the full time move to Las Vegas to become a professional sports handicapper, utilizing his knowledge of all sports including NFL, NCAA, NBA, UFC, and MLB. He's currently the resident #DFS expert on The Sports Gambling Podcast as well as managing editor.

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