Hope Solo’s days in goal for the U.S. Women’s National Team are numbered.
I admit in the interest of transparency that I’m a huge fan of hers. I admire her prodigious talent, her take-no-prisoners attitude and outspoken nature, her commitment to excellence, her work ethic, and everything else that has led her to become the best female goalkeeper in the world. I would be proud to see my three daughters emulate her in all those ways as they go through life. And yes, I also admit I was horrified when I read she had been arrested on a domestic violence charge.
I volunteered for several years at the Domestic Violence Project at the L.A. Courthouse. My job was to prepare emergency relief petitions for victims of domestic abuse. The brutality I saw there was horrific, and it wasn’t limited to violence by men against women. Solo gets no free pass from me for being female.
I’m a fan of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson on the field too, and yet I was still outraged that it took TMZ and a huge public outcry for the NFL to pull their ticket. As the media crusade against Solo continues to intensify, I worry that U.S. Soccer will succumb to public opinion and terminate her for the wrong reasons.
The facts surrounding Rice and Peterson are drastically different from those surrounding Solo. From the very beginning, Rice admitted to cold-cocking his (now) wife, and even the NFL admits to seeing the tape of him dragging her, unconscious, out of an elevator. Peterson openly admits to beating his child with a switch.
So what are the facts surrounding Solo’s arrest? The police answered a disturbance call to a house belonging to Solo’s sister. Solo had apparently been drinking. So, apparently, had Solo’s sister and nephew. Solo claims she exchanged heated words with her sister and nephew, that they attacked her, and that she defended herself. Solo’s sister and nephew claim they and Solo exchanged heated words, that Solo attacked them, and that they defended themselves. Hmmn.
Solo’s sister appeared visibly injured when the police arrived and Solo did not. That doesn’t tell us Solo was the aggressor though. It simply reminds us of a basic human truth: if you engage in a physical altercation with a world-class athlete you’re the one likely to get hurt.
U. S. Soccer has been protecting Solo since her arrest for the same wrong reason that the NFL tried to sweep the Rice matter under the rug. Solo has been good for business. She’s at the top of her game, she’s the most recognizable face in women’s soccer, and she just set a record for the most shutouts ever by a goalkeeper. For a league desperately trying to gain a foothold into the American money machine, that’s no small thing.
At the very least, Solo is guilty of extraordinarily bad judgment. If indeed the evidence ends up showing that she’s also guilty of domestic violence, then she should go. Until then, while Solo proclaims her innocence in a case that seems fuzzy at best, the league should protect her.
Not because she’s good for business, but because her getting swept away in the avalanche of political correctness starts to feel like McCarthyism, where the accusation itself is enough to ruin your life and the media and others rush to convict and execute you lest they themselves be accused of not joining the crusade.
As my mother used to say, there but for the grace of God go all of us.
I hope U.S. Soccer has the stomach and the heart to let the facts come to light before they act.