Hope Solo: The backlash against the bandwagon

As the belated outrage over Hope Solo’s status on the U.S. women’s national team continues to grow, we’re seeing a lot of voices reminding us that the issue is much more complicated than it’s being presented in a lot of quarters. It’s certainly more complicated than the “if Ray Rice is suspended, why isn’t Hope Solo?” nonsense from the “men’s rights” knuckle-draggers.

This post, which will be updated (feel free to send me links), is to highlight those voices in the hopes that they’ll be part of the national conversation.

Not all of these voices are in complete agreement about how to handle the Solo situation. Some call for her suspension but have misgivings about where the discourse is headed. Some agree with my take that U.S. Soccer erred in celebrating her shutout record but think there’s no point is suspending her now. (After her trial, anything goes.) But they’re all good at bringing out the nuances in a case that really isn’t that simple:

Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

It is now becoming fashionable to ignore human history and dump all manner of insupportable violence committed by athletes into the same bucket. The label on that bucket reads “Something Bad, Which We Should Punish.” It is true that what Ray Rice did was violent and wrong. It is also true that what Adrian Peterson did was violent and wrong. And it also true that what Hope Solo is alleged to have done is violent and wrong. But they are not the same specimen of violent and wrong.

Jen Doyle, The Sport Spectacle:

Fans of the USWNT will know well that Solo is facing assault charges. That story is not new. Washington Post editors might want to claim that this is “the domestic violence case that no one is talking about,” but that claim only works we ignore The Seattle Times, which, for example, has covered the story consistently, and responsibly, through their Seattle Sounders FC blog (Solo plays for Seattle Reign). The fact is that the national news media basically doesn’t give a shit about women’s sports stories unless they can be made into stories about men. Unless Solo’s case, in other words, can appear as a footnote to the Ray Rice story and (worse) absorbed into some broad popular sense that women, in general, are somehow getting away with something.

Jeff Kassouf, Equalizer Soccer

On Friday, Solo was suddenly “the domestic violence case no one is talking about.” People are “turning a blind eye” on the Solo case!

Except for the entirety of mainstream and niche media alike when it happened in June (including thoseveryoutlets writing those Friday pieces). The news on Solo’s alleged domestic violence was hardly ignored then. Every major media outlet in the country reported on it, giving it the red breaking news bar and top-of-the-headline-stack treatment similar to these NFL stories.

The cases “no one is talking about” are the 12 million people affected each year by intimate partner violence, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Amanda Hess, Slate:

All of the players who have been benched in the past couple of weeks are taking the heat for their league’s long-standing ignorance of domestic violence. It’s not clear that this approach—which penalizes highly visible players while letting the league off the hook—is ideal. What we do know for certain is that it’s not applicable to U.S. women’s soccer, which has no such systematic, decades-long history of ignoring the fact that certain players abuse their partners.

Kate Fagan, espnW:

What’s concerning about the dialogue around Hope Solo is this: It’s diverting us from the core issue. It feels like a distraction tactic to take the pressure off male athletes, off men in general, off the social epidemic of domestic violence.

Christine Brennan, USA TODAY:

(USOC CEO) Blackmun is not calling on U.S. Soccer to remove Solo from the women’s national team roster now. While Blackmun did not say why, it’s believed that the USOC is concerned about Solo’s right to a hearing and due process under the U.S. Amateur Sports Act while she awaits a November trial.

Stephanie Yang, The Soccer Desk:

As an additional complication, female athletes are certainly held to a much higher standard of moral behavior than male athletes. The least deviation from “appropriate” behavior for women is as or more remarkable than extreme instances of deviation by men. Look at the level of violence required to generate large-scale commentary and/or condemnation in the Ray Rice case. Look at how Floyd Mayweather is still allowed to compete and is, in fact, lauded by many. Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of sexual assault multiple times. Look at the sheer number of professional male athletes who are arrested, not just for domestic violence, and allowed to return to their teams after an insignificant period of “contrition.” Here is an article discussing arrest rates among NFL players. So I think there is false equivalence in media coverage of Hope’s situation as comparable to these other instances of DV.

Laura Taylor, Happy Go Snarky:

Editor: But we’ve got a problem. There are people out there writing rebuttal articles and blogs that are being very well-received. They’re making us look like amateurs who don’t know anything about women’s soccer and are only covering this because the Ray Rice story is huge and we want to make some tenuous connection to a famous, pretty girl who also allegedly committed the same crime. Terrence, I’d like you to write a new article about her.

Terrence: About women’s soccer, sir? But I’m the foreign affairs writer and we just bombed Syria and Iraq. Shouldn’t I focus on that?

(Feel free to add more links in the comments — again, I’ll update this post.)


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Beau Dure

The guy who wrote a bunch of soccer books and now runs a Gen X-themed podcast while substitute teaching and continuing to write freelance stuff.

4 thoughts on “Hope Solo: The backlash against the bandwagon”

  1. Ah the old “false equivalence” tactic to sweep any hypocrisy by the media under the rug. Are the cases different, sure, but if the media was really upset about DV instead of pushing a one sided agenda they would agree Solo deserves a suspension, but alas, its always about the “men’s rights knuckle draggers” and the rest of the dismissive ad hominem campaign to not hold women equally accountable for DV in the media as men. Oh you say you need a video, oh you say that because men do more damage, oh you say well women hardly do any damage…..by all superior logic…why do women feel entitled to hit knowing the onus of self control is always on the man? See Solange Knowles. You’ll never be legally equal to a man if you cannot be legally and socially as accountable as one.

  2. No one’s saying Solo shouldn’t be held equally accountable. We’re saying the case against Solo is still up in the air, and the act of which she accused is not comparable to Ray Rice’s.

    The women I know (I’m not one) don’t feel entitled to hit men. When women account for 50 percent (even 25) of domestic violence cases, let me know.

  3. I don’t think I understand the angle here. Clearly what Solo is accused of is bad – but, also clearly, as you note, it was not as bad as what Rice or Peterson did. That is to say, even if Solo was an NFL superstar that half of America watched perform every week, her case would not – should not – have garnered the same amount attention/outrage as the Rice/Peterson cases. So why is it so shocking that the media has been slow to pick up on it?

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