Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas released the following statement Monday evening regarding his absence from the Bruins' visit to the White House this afternoon:
"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"
Eric Macramalla and Graydon Ebert sound off on Tim Thomas:
Eric Macramalla Says
Tim Thomas has said that not going to the White House “was not about politics or a party”, but in the same breath criticized the Federal government.
Of course this is about “politics” and of course this is about a party – or two. That’s not a tough one.
That aside, was Thomas’ decision appropriate?
No. You don’t use an employer driven event to make your own personal political beliefs known. Thomas is an employee of the Bruins and paid handsomely to boot. Thomas must respect his employer and should not bring politics into the mix in connection with a team event celebrating a team accomplishment. It’s distracting, unnecessary and ill-conceived.
There is a legitimate business purpose behind ensuring that players don’t do this kind of stuff. Fans and sponsors can be turned off by such a move. That’s why the NBA suspended Nuggets Guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf for not standing during the national anthem on religious grounds.
There is nothing wrong with an athlete making his views known. Frankly, I encourage it (I may not agree with what you have to say but I will defend your right to say it). However, do so on your own time – and not on your employer’s time.
It’s important for players to show a basic level of respect and courtesy to their employer. That was missing here.
Thomas ended his press release by saying that this “is the only public statement I will be making”. Ultimately, he didn’t really say much did he? Nothing on healthcare, jobs or foreign policy. Nothing thoughtful, interesting or insightful. He just took a seat after making some very general, vague, and frankly, vacant comments.
So all we are left with is, in all likelihood, unhappy Bruins ownership, somewhat disappointed teammates and fans, and a flimsy press release – and of course a pretty good reputation that has taken a hit.
Graydon Ebert Says
Tim Thomas is definitely wrong that he's not being political but I don't have a problem with him choosing to boycott the visit (As a side note, I don't support Thomas' views - I just support his decision to do what he did).
I agree that it is supposed to be a team recognition, going to the White House to celebrate the Cup but its not really a public celebration, these visits go on all the time and are merely a footnote in the news cycle. He took something that would have just passed by unnoticed and used it to express his beliefs and frankly theres little downside in my opinion. Yes, his teammates might be a little annoyed and may have to answer some questions for a while but that won't last long term. The Bruins owners may not be that happy that he used the visit to make a political point but its not like they will actually lose any business as a result and it is very unlikely they'll be tied to his beliefs.
In a way I would compare it to when Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf of the NBA refused to stand for the national anthem or when Carlos Delgado refused to take the field in New York for God Bless America as a protest against the war with Iraq. They took a personal political stand in a way that didn't affect the way they did their job. Their teammates and ownership might not have been happy in how they voiced their opinion but there was no long-term blowback.
Frankly, this is how you protest if you want to do it successfully. Had he merely made a statement or took part in a rally or whatever, his voice would have easily been ignored, but by not making this visit, he certainly made his views known, but in a setting that is really not very serious or damaging to anyone. I think it was kinda smart, even though it is a total political statement that makes him sound like Ron Paul or a Tea Party member.