Tim Thomas’ Problem

Tim Thomas’ week isn’t what he thought it would be, apparently.
(Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images, via CBC)

Bruins’ goalie Tim Thomas says he doesn’t think he should be answering questions about why he didn’t go to the White House. He says his teammates shouldn’t be brought into the equation, nor should his family. On the latter point, he has this writer’s support. Thomas’ family life really nothing to do with this. On the rest, he’s wrong.

His teammates, on the other hand, do. Part of the media’s job is to tell a team’s followers something they didn’t know before and, sadly, in this day and age, sometimes this means reporting on disenssion in a dressing room. Now, it has become clear that Tim Thomas the lone wolf isn’t much of a new idea. The only issue with this notion is suggesting this is a unique problem. Goalies are well known to march to their own tune, so to make this up as a big deal seems a bit of a reach.

No the only issue here is Tim’s feeling he shouldn’t have to answer questions. He’s wrong. Tim made a choice, which was to express, strongly, a principled position. What you or I think of that position or how he articulated that position is irrelevant. The point is, he made a statement that was deeply political. The venue where he chose to make that statement is completely political. If he chose to not visit a hospital, or a sponsor’s office tower, that can be argued to be less political, but the White House? If Thomas had said he dislikes the architecture or that he’s allergic to the rugs, then maybe this could accepted as an apolitical act.

But he didn’t. He didn’t even say ‘For personal reasons which I don’t care to dicuss, I’m not going.’ No, he gave cogent reasons for why he wasn’t attending and they were expressly about the current state of government. He went on to criticize the major political parties. This is political criticism. He’s taking a strong position. When you take a strong position, you must accept that you may be challenged to defend that position. That’s how it works.

Tim Thomas is a public figure. If he doesn’t want to discuss his politics, then he shouldn’t have brought them up. That may not be fair, but he doesn’t have much say in that matter. He’s a public figure. If he didn’t want it to go public, then why did he post it on his Facebook fan page?

He blames the media for creating this mess? What did he expect would happen when he made a statement? The media is asking him questions every day, did he really think this would be something he could control? Unless he planned ahead and is making some roundabout commentary on the voraciousness of the media, he shouldn’t have expected any different. He made a choice and now he needs to recognize the consequences of that decision.

I honestly couldn’t care less that Thomas didn’t go to the White House. It seems a bizarre choice, but as he said, it is his right to say ‘no.’ If George W Bush had invited me to go, I would have gone, even though I intensely disliked him. I’d have gone for the history, for chance to say I once went to the White House. But that’s me. 

Thomas didn’t have to go. But he also didn’t have to make a statement.

  • Mantastic

    Team visits to the White House are a freebie photo op and, to use a British expression for a fun day out with the gang, a jolly for the team that wins the Stanley Cup. The host of the event is not the leader of the Republican Party or the Democratic Party but the office of the President Of The United States of America. Tim Thomas did not snub Barak Obama the politcal entity but the concept of the Presidency. This was not a political event until he elected to make it one. It was a day out for his team-mates which he chose to sour and taint. Thomas is free to hold and express whatever political opinion he wants to but time and place decide how the world at large will respond to it. Thomas is blaming the media for his own stupidity and insensitivity. He deserves all the negative attention he gets. He has earned it. But yes, leave his children out of it.