Letting your politics get in the way of your puck

Tim Thomas in his pre-political days at UVM

Why is it that so many professional sports figures feel it necessary wade out into the political end of the pool?

If you read any bit of hockey news this week, you’ve probably heard about how Boston Bruins’ goaltender Tim Thomas chose not to join the rest of his teammates at a White House reception celebrating their Stanley Cup championship.

In a statement released via Facebook, Thomas explained:

“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

Ugh.  Say it ain’t so, Timmy.

First and foremost, let’s remember one thing: at the end of the day, you’re a professional athlete not a freedom fighter. All talk of “free speech” and “rights as an American” aside, bailing on your teammates when the team is being honored, not just you, is disrespectful.

Second, if you’re going to take a stance, own it. Don’t take the wet blanket approach of “I hate everything”.  This is clearly about politics, so 1.) own up to it and 2.) be prepared for the backlash.

Lastly, I actually want to caveat all of this by saying that I have been a huge Tim Thomas fan for a long time – dating back to his underdog days at the University of Vermont.  That’s probably why this whole incident bothers me. Growing up a hockey player and fan in New England, it was hard not to root for the scrappy, underappreciated – and, well, damn good – UVM hockey teams of the mid-1990’s. Tim Thomas’ road to the NHL, in my opinion, represents one of the best examples in pro sports of how hard work and determination can pay off.  He should be the model for every little kid with a big dream. Here’s the thing, though:  his followers – hockey fans young and old – don’t care about his political agenda.  They just want him to make some big saves, sign some autographs and be a hero.  Last time I checked, railing against the government doesn’t fall into any of those categories…