Over the last couple of days, no athlete has taken more internet heat than Tim Thomas, goaltender for the Boston Bruins, after he opted to skip the Stanley Cup champions' visit to the White House to meet President Obama. Thomas skipped the event, citing his discontent with the operation of the American government.
He offered this explanation on his official Facebook fan page:
"I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People. This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government. Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL. This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic."
So why on Earth is he being ripped apart in ever internet forum that one can find?
The media world scolded Thomas this week as a selfish athlete who should have put his political beliefs on the shelf and represented both his team and his country at the White House, Thomas being one of only two Americans on the championship Bruins team. What a breath of fresh air! The American media promoting phoniness in support of the Obama presidency!
The fact of the matter is this: Thomas, a staunch Republican, disagrees with the path taken by the American government. Not the Democratic Party, the government. Because of those beliefs, he did not want to take part in something that infringed upon them. When has that ever been frowned upon in America?
For those who rebuked Thomas for taking a team event and selfishly making a political statement, it needs to be explained how STAYING HOME is an abuse of one's position of fame. Did Thomas make an announcement of the government's dysfunction upon receiving his Conn Smythe Trophy? Did he tear down the Obama administration with the Stanley Cup above his head or at the podium of the Stanley Cup parade? No he did not.
Would it be preferred that Thomas have attended and stated such beliefs on the White House lawn? No it would not.
Kanye West bluntly stated that "George Bush doesn't care about black people" while hosting the 2005 Concert for Hurricane Relief. Michael Moore used the platform of the Oscar Awards to call George Bush a "fictitious President", while Sean Penn used the same platform to criticize the War in Iraq, as well as multiple other public appearances to call for the Bush administration's impeachment.
Muhammad Ali refused his own military draft selection in protest of violence due to his own beliefs, a formal protest against the American government.
And yet all of these figures, controversial or not, were able to carry on in their careers, protected by free speech.
So why is Tim Thomas torn apart for choosing to stay in his home? Why was Curt Schilling frowned upon in the media for his open support of the Republican Party in the aftermath of the Red Sox 2004 World Series? Perhaps it is just not a trendy view in the media to be Republican, unless you land on Fox News, the Wall Street Journal or the majority of the talk-radio airwaves.
What is Tim Thomas to gain in a White House appearance?
The only benefit for Thomas was his own pleasure, of which he would have none. He should be scrutinized for his absence no more than Tom Brady or Eli Manning should be vilified for skipping the traditional trip to Disney World in three weeks.
The real person who the snub could possibly tarnish is Obama. As we enter the election year, Obama's approval ratings leave much to be desired, and one of his biggest competitors for re-election could be Mitt Romney, the moderate Republican Governor of Massachusetts.
Who's to say Obama wouldn't have loved the opportunity for photos of one of Boston's premier athletes pumping his arm. Otherwise, would Obama really care if Thomas came or not?
If this was truly such a crime, we would see some retaliation on the part of the Bruins organization. We haven't because GM Peter Chiarelli, though disappointed, has respected Thomas' freedom of speech and the fact that Thomas is in no way required to stand in a show of support for an institution he believes to be in disarray and harmful to the American people. He understood Thomas' true value is that he wins hockey games, perhaps better than anyone.
Then, this morning, the typically dramatic Boston media reared its ugly head. The Boston Globe published a story from Deadspin exploring the possible ripple effect of the White House snub.
The Globe article cited an unnamed team source that said Thomas' defiant stand on the team visit in Washington, D.C. was “[expletive] selfish [expletive].’’
Then a Deadspin article surfaced claiming the Bruins may be looking to part ways with the all-world goaltender.
Asinine. Ludicrous. Potentially crippling to the Eastern Conference's most complete team.
Isn't it ironic that the people who coined the term "Manny being Manny" about the famously problematic Red Sox slugger have begun to conjure up the sorts of problems in a locker room that otherwise sailed through November, December and January? Chalk this up to another case of the Boston media being, well, the Boston media.
Chiarelli undoubtedly had a problem with his goaltender making headlines for the wrong reasons. Nonetheless, he allowed him to sit at home, away from the cameras and away from the politics he is being accused of trying to meddle in.
Hopefully the world can return to a state of normalcy soon enough and reinstate the separation of Sport and State it so adamantly demands. After all, Obama's NCAA Bracket Presentation on ESPN is just around the corner.
it shouldn't even be a story anymore but what do you expect - it's boston, it's their star American Stanley Cup winning goalie, and he dissed the democratic president. expect this story to be raked over the coals for another couple weeks
He did, and they did. But now comes when they turn from "political watchdogs" to overbearing neanderthals. No reason to continue to drag it out. The problem is, that's what they do best.
As we said, these are the same people who coined the term "Manny being Manny." Well, this is the Boston media being the Boston media.
The thing that really bugs me is his own illogical words: "This was not about politics or party"Well obviously it was about politics otherwise he wouldn't have singled himself out from the rest of his team.
The issue isn't that he didn't want to attend, it's that he -- an athlete -- decided to use his fame to make a political statement. If he wants to, that's fine, but then he said, it's the only public statement he'll make on the matter.
You don't get away with that. If he wants to weigh in politically, then fans and media have a right to question whether he has a clue what he's talking about. If he thinks that's going to become a distraction, he's right, but that's what you get when a hockey player tries to get his political two cents in.
I'd bet money that many hockey players, like many people, have political opinions. They don't tend to state them for two reasons -- first, they don't welcome the distraction, and second, they know that their political opinions will likely be given weight based on the player's ability to score goals or stop pucks, not on his qualifications to speak politically.
Tim Thomas had every right to do what he did, sure, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a stupid thing to do, and the media probably won't -- and definitely shouldn't --stop asking him questions about his politics now.
@bosbruinsfan …different than friends who're libertarians? *shrug* Not my place to really know more.
@bosbruinsfan I liked his origin story (matches mine). I liked that he's got an English major (liberal arts degree ftw.) Is it any…
@bosbruinsfan Thinking about it, I can see people not liking what I do (since art is political) but hockey isn't, you know?
@jonfdoy If people don't respect an American's right to do just that, the can move to China where they wouldn't have a choice. ;)
@StevePace Nobody ever accused Thomas of being the most articulate person in the world. But what's fair is fair. He made a statement, gave an explanation and now is being crucified by his hometown media, who historically disagrees with everything he stands for (or in this case, against). He's a guy who's probably not well-liked by the media, or a bunch of people, based on his typical demeanor who handed them gasoline and lighter fluid and a box of matches.
We agree that it created a lot more questions that warrant answers, but don't you think even the most selfish, prickly part of Thomas realizes that if he allows those questions to be asked the results could be catastrophic to that locker room, compared to what it is now?
@RealMikeSalerno "handed them gasoline and lighter fluid and a box of matches." Exactly. Really poor decision making and it's no wonder Chiarelli tried to convince him to come.