Sorry, Tim, the horse has bolted
Consequences. Can't live with them, can't live without them. Everything we do comes with consequences, which is why I'm aware I will have to deal with the consequences of writing about people in sports dealing with consequences.
Now, if you are not a hockey fan then you are probably unaware Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas won the play-off MVP last season when he led his team to the Stanley Cup. However, you may have heard that Thomas is a hardcore libertarian who is very public in his hatred towards government intrusion in his life. One of the highest honours accorded championship teams in the US is a visit to the White House and an audience with President Barack Obama, who, not surprisingly, does believe in the role of government in people's lives.
Thomas, the only American on the Bruins 21-man cup-winning roster last season, very publicly refused to go when his team visited the White House last week. According to a post on Thomas' Facebook page, his snub was because the government is 'threatening the rights, liberties, and property of the people'. He went on to say that as a free citizen he chose not to go to the White House and that, 'this was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country'. First off I have to say that after being fed nothing but meaningless vanilla quotes by corporate pitchmen such as Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan over the past 20-odd years, it's nice to see an athlete take a principled stand. But not about politics.
Thomas' actions could not be more political. Of course, this is the sports page, the so-called toy department, so any talk of politics is not really appropriate or appreciated around here. For instance, if I was to say that Thomas' proclamation reads exactly like the manifesto of the uber-right wing, ultra-patriotic Tea Party movement in the US - which he openly supports despite their seemingly contradictory nature, because while they want the government out of their pockets, they most certainly want them in their bedroom so the government can pass laws against what kind of sex you can have and who you can have it with even if that seems to be 'threatening the rights, liberties and property of the people' - then that would be considered political.
But I would never write something like that because, again, this is the sports page and I have to respect that. However, Thomas seemed genuinely surprised over the furore his stance caused and made it clear that as far as he was concerned the incident was over and he did not wish to discuss it any more. As if. Naturally, he was dogged by questions everywhere he went at the All-Star game in Ottawa and probably will be for the rest of the season.
Some in the Bruins' organisation viewed his snub as selfish and ruining the team's moment in the limelight. Others were intimating that it will hurt the precious chemistry in their locker room and, should the Bruins fail to defend their title, chemistry issues will probably be raised about Thomas.
It's called dealing with the consequences. It might not be fair but no matter what Thomas does in the rest of his career, and at 37 the clock is ticking, this issue will not go away. When a public figure takes a public stance this is what happens and no player on the Bruins team has a higher profile.
The media, said Thomas, wouldn't let this go and were making it a story. But that's the media's job. They choose the news and if they choose news that no one wants to read then they will have to deal with the consequences. And I know I work in the media so unless otherwise stated, this apparently makes me a liberal by default, whether true or not.
However, no matter liberal or conservative, I can't exonerate every stream of the media for some of their dubious news choices. There are boneheads in every business. But take the dreaded media out of the equation and athletes like Thomas exist in a vacuum. No one to broadcast his games, no one to report on them, no pundits to dissect his performance and no platform for Thomas to build the type of profile that allows him the opportunity to get his opinions out to millions. Even social media is media, so in some respects Thomas is one of us. Here's what I think of the government and who am I? I'm the MVP of the Stanley Cup play-offs, that's who - tweet, tweet.
A principled man is hard to find, particularly in the world of sports. And while Thomas may want this whole thing to disappear, it's no longer up to him. All he can do now is say 'no comment' and hope it goes away while sports fans may or may not care if it affects him and his team's performance going forward. But either way, it's his issue now. He owns it, consequences and all.