Yesterday, the Boston Bruins partook in the time honored tradition of championship franchises paying visits to the White House for a meeting with the President. President Obama welcomed the Bruins, cracking jokes about playoff beards and Zdeno Chara’s height. He even went so far as commemorating Tim Thomas’ excellent playoff performance, noting that Thomas is only the second American to ever win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Thomas, however was absent from the ceremony.
Thomas decided to boycott the ceremony as a symbol of his ideological differences with the Obama administration’s policies and his disgust of the political climate today. He issued a statement on his Facebook page detailing his reasoning behind declining to visit the White House.
In the statement, Thomas wrote that he believed the “Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People” adding that these injustices were being done at all three branches of government.Thomas is not the first athlete to use the platform of sports as a means of political protest. The Washington Post has pointed out instances where athletes refused to stand for the National Anthem or “God Bless America.”
Thomas’s White House snub has started a media frenzy over his actions with some people calling for the Bruins to suspend the all-star goalie. Was his snub disrespectful? Yes. Did it lack tact? Yup. Was it the most effective method of political protest? Debatable. Was he wrong for doing it? Hell no.
Thomas exercised his right of free speech by electing no to visit the President of the United States. Sure it looked bad and pissed a lot of people off, but his actions are no different than actors Alec Baldwin joining “Occupy Wall Street” protestors this past Fall or Sean Penn joining anti-war protestors during the Bush administration. They are merely public figures who have used their celebrity as means to illustrate their political views.
This is the glory of America. Americans have been given the right to protest and show their dissatisfaction with their government. Some do it through the use of picket signs, mass gatherings, or marches on Washington. Thomas did it by staying home and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.