You have a right to your politics but you don't have a right to be rude
Tim Thomas is a fine NHL goaltender and a key reason why his Boston Bruin teammates were at the White House this week, doing a victory lap to celebrate their Stanley Cup victory over Vancouver last spring.
The words "his Boston Bruins teammates" are there for a reason, because Thomas was not.
The netminder skipped the visit, citing his political differences with the Obama administration. Thomas supposedly is a fan of Glenn Beck and has issues with who's in the White House. The Bruins left it up to the players to decide if they'd made the trip and the team won't sanction Thomas because he didn't go.
They shouldn't. We all have a right to our opinions and, as adults, can make our own decisions.
That doesn't make it right.
No right-thinking person would interpret a Thomas visit to the White House under this week's circumstances as Thomas' tacit endorsement of the Obama administration. He and his team were being acknowledged for their accomplishments on the ice. It wasn't a Presidential pep rally.
As much as Thomas and his supporters say this is about free speech, there's something bigger to be considered: respect.
There's the man in the office of the President, and then there's the Office Of The President Of The United States. The Office is to be respected. An invite from the officeholder is a compliment that rises above politics, no matter if the President has a "D" or an "R" next to his/her name.
When the President calls, you go. It's an honor. It's a privilege. It's not an endorsement, and you can go on your merry way the minute you're off the grounds, handing out buttons endorsing the President's most ardent political foe as you walk down Pennsylvania Avenue.
When the President calls, you go.
Tim Thomas didn't make Barack Obama look any smaller the other day by staying home while his Bruins teammates were handing the President the obligatory Boston jersey. Mr. Obama hit his marks, said the right things, and gave the champs their traditional props. It's a routine as old as sports. It's an honor. It's a privilege, regardless of politics.
What Thomas did was make HIMSELF the story. Maybe he thinks his politics rise above respect of office. Maybe it's another sign that we can no longer agree to agreeably disagree. It's a shame that, to some, we can't coexist with those whose views we don't like, that we can't share air in the same room with someone from another point of view.
Sports is supposed to bring us together. In this case, Tim Thomas just used his unique position to pull us all a little further apart.