Oh Timmy. Timmy, Timmy, Timmy.
I’ve expressed my love for Tim Thomas in the past. Any goalie who is willing to check a player to the ice rather than make a conventional save is aces in my book. Just look at this check he laid on Jason Blake. I like Thomas’ attitude in the game. Which I thought this photo summed up perfectly:
Well, all good things come to an end, don’t they?
Today, the Boston Bruins were at the White House to be honored by President Barack Obama. Better late than never, I guess. At least, most of the Boston Bruins were at the White House. One conspicuous absentee was American born goaltender Tim Thomas.
When it was announced that Tim Thomas was playing for Team USA at the Winter Olympics in 2010, Thomas was interviewed on the ice at the Winter Classic. He was given a United States flag that flew in a combat mission in Iraq with the US Rangers, and told that every player would be adopted by a Wounded Warrior. Darren Pang said that it must mean a lot to him. Thomas responded:
“Yeah, it does. I mean, I’m American to the bone.”
Yep, American to the bone. But doesn’t go to the White House. Because of politics. What’s more American than snubbing the President over politics?
When Thomas accepted the honor (and he was the one who pointed out over and over that he this was a dream come true for him), he didn’t mention that he would only be honored to play for the part of America he agreed with. He didn’t say he was only playing for the red states or the blue states of America. He was playing for the United States. Did he let his politics get in the way when his opportunity came along? Did he say that he didn’t care for our nation’s leadership and therefore couldn’t represent our country in the Olympics? No, he didn’t. He honored America by showing up and doing his job.
The issue here isn’t that Thomas wanted to express himself by not showing up to the White House, it’s that he did it in a stupid way. He did it with a short-sited action that hurt his teammates, and upset plenty of fans of hockey. And the only impact he made was on the world of hockey. The people who agree with him will still be his fans, the people who don’t might not like him as much, and people who don’t like the Bruins will continue to not like them.
It should go without saying that Thomas has every right to do what he did. That we have to qualify his rights says how ridiculous the rhetoric has gotten. He wasn’t required by the team to be there, and it’s a credit to GM Peter Chiarelli that he didn’t make the appearance at the capitol mandatory. He didn’t make it mandatory even though he knew Thomas didn’t want to go. Of course he has the right to express himself, even if it is in a stupid way that winds up backfiring.
At the game, we all shut up for the national anthem, whether we think it should be played before sporting events or not. When a soldier is singled out to be honored at a game, you applaud them, whether you agree with the war they fought in or not. You pay your bills, even if you think they are too high. You drive with car insurance. You do the right thing, because that is the society that we collectively chose to live in.
And you show up at the White House when your team is asked, because it is an honor to be invited. Whether you like the President or not. You do the right thing. Because doing the right thing is supposed to be American as well.
So how do I feel about Thomas? Disappointed. It could be pointed out that he has always been a conservative, and an active one at that. But being conservative or liberal doesn’t give me a reason to like or dislike you. Members of my own family are politically 180 degrees from me, and I still love them. It’s how you act that matters. And this was an act that I don’t respect.
After I wrote this, NHL.com posted this statement from Thomas:
“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. TT”
I think it’s fine he feels this way, but he is either in denial or naive if he feels this isn’t about politics. His beliefs he acted on were political. But it isn’t his job to think, it’s his job to stop the puck. Maybe he will start thinking later. And somehow, I doubt this is the last public statement he will make about this. Wait and see.
Update: I like Jason Cohen’s take on Thomas calling this a statement “not about politics or party” :
My apologies if my grammar wasn’t perfect in this update.