Here are five quick reasons why sports and politics should never mix:
Three (this was from that last time he ran for president):
Four (check the 53-second mark):
Five (each one wants to be the next junior senator from Massachusetts):
The good news was that Mayor Menino was on hand Monday when Larry Orr, Carl Yablonski and the rest of the Patriots celebrated their Stanley Cup championship with President Obama. An ionic moment for fans everywhere.
At Monday's ceremony, Obama (really) said: "The Bruins, the Sox, the Celtics, now the Patriots. Enough already, Boston." Couldn't agree more, Mr. President. I, too, have had enough of the Red Sox and their run of two straight years in third place and four years without a playoff victory.
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas wasn't there. Here's his reason why:
"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"
Occupy Wall Street meet Occupy Causeway Street.
First off, Monday's visit to the White House by the Bruins was a political event simply because everything every president does is political, especially in public at the White House. That's not necessarily bad, it's just the nature of the business. Politicians love to cozy up to sports stars, look good on the golf course, throw the ceremonial football or shoot some hoops because it supposedly makes them look cool and appear to be just like us. That's fine. If I was president, I'd be playing Congressional 300 or 400 times a year, too.
There have been plenty of moments when sports and politics have intersected with immensely positive results - Jesse Owens' gold medal runs in Berlin, FDR giving baseball a green light in WWII, Jackie Robinson being a catalyst for integration, Team USA beating the Soviets in 1980, President Bush tossing that strike from the mound of Yankee Stadium in the wake of 9/11 - to name a few. Other times, sports and politics have met with catastrophic consequences. Consider Munich in 1972 or the fate shared by members of the Iraqi national soccer team run by Uday Hussein.
Blame or credit whomever you want, but our society is immensely politically polarized. That's not a bad thing if you truly believe your side is right. To suggest Thomas caused immeasurable harm to our national political discourse is about as sound as taking Jermaine O'Neal over Dwight Howard in your fantasy team because the Celtics beat the Magic by 31 Monday night. Thomas acted and spoke based upon his beliefs. He might have been even more effective if he had offered those views directly to the president, but he chose not to. Again, his decision.
Thomas took a political event he in which he was asked to participate, declined to take part and then made a political statement. Nothing wrong there, although he should have said as much. This was about politics on all sides., It's usually cringe-inducing when athletes, actors, musicians or sports talk show hosts pontificate on legitimate issues. No one questions their right for expression, but we also have a right to say "shut up and play" or "just because we like your movies, we don't have to take you seriously." Their views are no more or less relevant than ours, Athletes and entertainers are supposed to provide us with a sanctuary from the real world. For the most part, the playing field, movie screen and iPod playlist are separated from the voting booth by the fantasy of one and the reality of the other. Thomas was right to pass on this invitation if he didn't want to be there because it clashed with his views. The Bruins were smart not to fine or discipline Thomas if for no other reason it would have angered the fans who agree with him.
Monday's no-show was news. The best player on the team that won the Stanley Cup not going to the White House when the team is being honored by the president. All of these deals, from back in the day when President Reagan welcomed the Redskins until today, again are political because they involve politicians on their turf. Thomas felt so passionately enough about his views that he passed up a trip to the White House to meet the sitting president with his teammates to celebrate the Stanley Cup and told us why. That's a sign of character in my book and could not have been an easy choice. Although given where the Cup has been in the past seven months, it could have done a lot worse, than the People's House. I'd go to the White House just for the chance to take a joy ride in The Beast and swipe a coffee mug.
As far as what Thomas said, e-mail me if you really care what I think about it.
It would have been easy for Thomas to just go along with the crowd, be polite and remain silent. But I'm guessing that any guy who dropped the "pump my tires" line on Lebrongo, pulled a Vince Wilfork on Henrik Sedin and won the Conn Smythe Trophy with a .967 save percentage and a 1.98 goals-against average for playoffs, isn't shy about voicing his views. Most fans were unaware of Thomas' inner-Glenn Beck before Monday. Thomas reportedly told the Bruins months ago he wasn't going to attend. He knew he'd be asked about 1,000 times as to why so he offered an answer. Fair enough.
After last June, if Thomas thought we should surrender to Belgium, I'd probably hand him the white flag. But that's just me. Thomas and the rest of us are lucky enough to live in a country where star athletes and common citizens are still free to say "Thanks, but no thanks" to the sitting president and not get tossed into the gulag or shipped off to the Eastern Front. Although I hope for Thomas' sake all of his tax returns are perfect.
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