Questions and educated guesses on the Hope Solo situation:
Q. Why did ESPN air a piece on Hope Solo, with extensive comments from a family member with whom she fought, the day before the USA was due to play its first World Cup game?
EG: Because Solo has been receiving a lot of favorable press and sympathetic interviews that have allowed her to give her side of the story, painting herself as “a victim of domestic violence” who suffered a concussion in the scuffle with family members a year ago. She was on Good Morning America, and she was in a glowing ESPN magazine feature.
So the main trigger was Solo’s recent series of interviews, which Deadspin called “Hope Solo’s Redemption Tour.” Deadspin concluded that said tour is … well …
And Solo’s half-sister, Teresa Obert, felt the same way about Solo’s redemption tour and decided not to keep silent.
That’s one aspect of it. The other aspect, which we don’t fully know, is how long veteran reporter Mark Fainaru-Wada was chasing after the depositions and other records that were part of the broadcast.
Could ESPN have aired this piece a month ago? Probably not. Not enough new info.
Q. What’s the big deal? Each side says the other is lying, and we can’t tell which is which.
EG. Or maybe they’re both lying. Or maybe everyone’s guilty of some sort of abhorrent behavior. Look at the depositions in the ESPN story and see what you think.
Q. Weren’t the charges dismissed?
EG. Not exactly. Prosecutors are re-filing charges and will be back in court July 13.
Q. Back up a second — did Solo say “concussed”?
EG. Yep. Do you remember anyone reporting a Hope Solo concussion last summer? She missed a Seattle Reign game after the incident, but injury wasn’t the given reason.
Q. Wasn’t the media wrong for the whole way they handled Solo’s marriage to Jerramy Stevens?
EG. Ah yes — the accusation from the ESPN magazine story: “UNLIKE WHAT HAS been widely reported in the media, the Stevens and Solo love story did not begin two months before they wed but in fact sprang to life in college …”
Compare that with Solo’s memoir epilogue, released after the 2012 Olympics: “Adrian was beyond committed, a steady support system for me through these difficult times. Somewhere in the past year, there had been a significant shift in our relationship, and our full commitment to each other became clear and ironclad. We decided to start looking for a home, one where we could build our life together.”
Look, relationships are complicated, and we shouldn’t be so judgmental. But I think we can forgive anyone who read Hope’s memoir in September for being a little surprised when she turned up with Stevens a couple of months later. The fact that Stevens and Solo knew each other in college doesn’t erase pages from her memoir in which she talks about her future with another man a couple of months before marrying another.
Q. I still think ESPN just did this because they don’t have Women’s World Cup rights.
EG. ESPN also ran the sympathetic feature with the revisionist history on Solo’s relationships. (Disclaimer: I’ve written for ESPN. And Fox, which is showing the Cup this time. And, most recently, Fox News Latino.)
Q. Why does any of this matter?
EG. To a large degree, it doesn’t. The U.S. team has made peace with the fact that Solo is going to do her own thing. Solo is on the team not because she’s everyone’s best friend. She’s on the team because she has been the best big-game goalkeeper in the world over the past 10 years.
But when the media stop questioning stuff that clearly merits questioning, we’ve lost our way. Then, to give one not-so-hypothetical example, Solo can say a bunch of fans are racist without any serious repercussions or even anyone giving the other side.
Q. Why did the family skip some opportunities to tell itself when the case was first active? Not just to the media. To the court.
EG. That’s a good question, and I wish Outside the Lines had tackled it. (I didn’t see the full TV piece, so perhaps it was asked there.)
Q. How will this affect the U.S. team?
EG. It won’t.
Q. How will this affect Solo’s future endorsements?
EG. It’ll complicate them.
Q. What scares you about the whole situation on a personal level?
EG. The way so many people make excuses for her rather than accepting the fact that she’s a deeply flawed human being. The fight with her family, frankly, seems a little less disturbing than her attitude toward the police. (Unless the police were lying, but what’s their incentive to do that?)
She also does a lot of good, absolutely — if you’ve ever seen her with kids, you know that. No one’s saying you can’t be her fan.
But here’s a basic fact of life: Make a claim of being a victim, and you’d better be able to back it up. Especially when we see other indications to the contrary.
Root for her on Monday if you like. That’s up to you. But if you’re looking for victims to whom you send your sympathy, you might want to choose some with where the facts are clearer and their own roles in the situation are cleaner.
But all those are just educated guesses. Not “answers.” Please don’t accuse me of telling you how to think. Just tossing out a few things to think about.