Let me preface this post by first saying this: thank God we live in a country where a person is free, without any fear of persecution or retribution, to decline an invitation from the President of the United States to visit the White House.
Now, with that out of the way, in the news this week you may have seen mention of the fact that the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins were received Monday at the White House by President Obama, as is customary for the champions of all major sports leagues as well as NCAA football and basketball.
But the news wasn’t that the Bruins were there, it was who wasn’t there, as in the MVP of the playoffs last year, goaltender Tim Thomas. On Monday afternoon following the Bruins’ visit, Thomas made the following statement regarding his absence:
“I believe the federal government has grown out of control,’’ he stated, “threatening the rights, liberties, and property of the people.’’
It’s been no secret that Thomas holds certain political views that are shall we say, conservative and/or sympathetic to the Tea Party, which is fine. But his decision to skip the reception has drawn criticism in the media, from Bruins team sources, and even from some players on other teams.
It is also worth noting here that Thomas was a member of the silver-medal winning US Olympic team in 2010, although he had limited playing time behind some guy named Ryan Miller who currently ranks 42nd in NHL goals against average.
Be that as it may, my take on this as an American citizen and a hockey player and fan is this: I don’t care if Mickey Mouse is the President. If the President of the United States invites you and your teammates to the White House to recognize your accomplishment in winning a championship, you go. Period. You may not like the man or agree with his politics, but you respect the office. And you go because in not doing so you diminish the day for your teammates, because as I said at the top, this has become not about the Bruins being at the White House. It’s now about Tim Thomas not being there. That’s unfortunate, and it’s not right.
However, as I said, thank God we live in a country where Tim Thomas can make that choice, even if it was the wrong one.