Monday Tim Thomas skipped out on the Boston Bruins reception at the White House. He said on his Facebook that it was because he was exercising his rights as a free citizen who disagreed with the work of the Federal Government, apparently due to his Tea Party sympathies.
This has received a hell of a lot of flack from the media, and is certain to be a distraction at the coming All-Star Weekend, especially in the Great White Northern Socialist Paradise.
While I couldn’t possibly disagree more with Thomas’s political views here, I personally admire him for his courage on this. Sure he was a Conn Smythe winner, but if someone like Brad Richards, Patrick Roy, or Nicklas Lidstrom refused to attend George Bush’s White House, I would have loved it. As such, I feel it would be completely hypocritical of me to shame Thomas here. He stood up for what he believed, and kudos to that. In the words of Voltaire “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”.
But enough about me, what’s more interesting is the reaction that this is getting.
In wrestling terms, there is no question that Tim Thomas was one of the few mega-faces in this game. He comes from humble beginnings, was a late round draft pick, had to ply his trade in Europe, and flat out worked his ass off to be the best in the league at what he does, which culminated in one of the best statistical seasons ever last year, which lead to him getting the Vezina and Conn Smythe trophies and his name on Hockey’s Holy Grail. What’s not to love about that story? He’s a regular Dusty Rhodes son-of-a-plumber blue collar good guy.
That is until today. Where he is sure to be booed like no tomorrow, especially in the more liberal markets like Ottawa, DC, LA, Chicago, and New York.
But why? He just did what he felt was right. The same people who are going to boo Thomas are the same people that defended the Dixie Chicks for speaking out against the war in Iraq and hated on the “dumb rednecks” who boycotted them.
This my friends, is a self justified heel turn of Bret Hart proportions. What made this turns so amazing in the 90s is the fact that Bret didn’t change, not one bit. No the fans changed. Bret Hart was such an amazing anti-American heel, because he was mad at the fans for cheering the beer swilling rule breaker who they should have booed by all logic.
Tim Thomas today is the exact same man whose tires were pumped by Roberto Luongo. He’s the exact same man who flat-out embarrassed the Vancouver Canucks last June. He’s the exact same man who we were all inspired by and couldn’t help but root for.
Except now we know something about him that we don’t like, and that somehow makes him a villain. Bret Hart refused to let go of the sharpshooter on Jerry Lawler in ’93 and we cheered. He did the same to Steve Austin in ’97 and suddenly he was the most hated man in the business.
What made Bret Hart such an amazing villain in the late 90s is the exact same thing that will make Tim Thomas a great villain now. They hold a mirror up to the world. They show everyone their true hypocritical nature. They are the sports (and sports entertainment) equivalent of Dorian Gray’s painting.
And for that we hate them.