What Does Hope Cost?

Hope Solo

For my first post here at Riverside Green, I’m going to talk about something that I’m pretty sure has never been mentioned here (that being sports) and something that absolutely has been. It all has to do with the sublimely talented and (let’s not deny it, because it matters) physically attractive goalkeeper for the United States National Women’s Soccer team, Hope Solo.

Solo has been both a blessing and a curse for US Soccer since she arrived on the scene. In 2007, Solo made huge waves by blasting her coach and her teammate, Briana Scurry, when she was benched for a semi-final World Cup game against Brazil in favor of Scurry. The US lost that game, 4-0, and Solo was candid about her response to the benching.

“There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves,” Solo said. “And the fact of the matter is, it’s not 2004 anymore. … It’s 2007, and I think you have to live in the present. And you can’t live by big names. You can’t live in the past. It doesn’t matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold-medal game in the Olympics three years ago.”

At the time, it was a bizarre coaching decision that was compounded by several societal issues. Scurry was black. Solo was white. Solo was gifted with supermodel-quality looks. Scurry was not. Solo was alternately praised for her candor and blasted for being a wretched teammate. Solo had not surrendered a goal in the previous 300 minutes. Scurry surrendered four in ninety.

Scurry disappeared from the American consciousness after that game. Solo went on to become a household name. She won the Golden Glove award in the 2011 World Cup as the best goalkeeper of the tournament. She led the US to Olympic gold in 2008 and 2012. It was no longer debatable that Solo was the best female keeper in the world.

But it was off of the pitch where Solo became a star. In a game where many of the biggest stars are decidedly masculine in appearance, Solo became a sex symbol, giving men everywhere a reason to tune in to the women’s game. She performed on “Dancing With The Stars” . She posed nude in the ESPN Body Issue (I’m not linking them for NSFW purposes, but a single Bing/Google search will help you find all of that and then some). People who couldn’t identify Abby Wambach in a lineup absolutely knew who Solo was.

But Solo’s 2007 tirade turned out to have been a bit of foreshadowing into a dark side of her personality. Solo was involved in an altercation with her then-fiancee’, former NFL player Jerramy Stevens, in 2012, but neither side was charged. in 2014, Solo was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor counts of assault against her half-sister and nephew. Solo claimed she was defending herself against an attack from her nephew, who was 6’9″ and 280 pounds. The charges were dropped in January of 2015, with the courts claiming there was insufficient cooperation from the witnesses.

However, the official police report shows a violent, angry side of Solo. You can read it yourself if you like, but highlights include Solo telling an arresting officer, “You’re such a bitch. You’re scared of me, because you know that if these handcuffs were off, I’d kick your ass.” Despite all of this, Solo was not suspended or reprimanded by US Soccer. And there’s no doubt that they needed her yesterday in their opening-round win over Australia, when Solo made multiple miraculous saves. Seriously, click that link. She’s a beast.

All sorts of people are suggesting that there’s a double standard here, that we’d be burying a male athlete who acted in such a manner. And they’re right, we probably would be. There’s a part of us that doesn’t really mind that Hope Solo beat the hell out of her 6’9″ nephew. Secretly, maybe we even think it’s interesting or compelling. I mean, who doesn’t love a hot crazy girl?

But, in reality, Solo is excused for her behavior because she’s the best in the world at what she does. America hasn’t won the World Cup since Brandi Chastain ripped off her jersey in 1999. That’s sixteen long, long years. And if we need a woman who occasionally beats the hell out of her family to win, well…then we need her. In fact, one could argue that with US Soccer making the decision to completely ignore Solo’s domestic violence issues, it means that women’s sports have finally arrived. I mean, if the NFL can willfully ignore a video of one of its stars cold-cocking a woman in an Atlantic City casino, why can’t the USWNT do the same for its mega-star?

I’m only being mildly facetious here. If great men are excused for their transgressions, then shouldn’t great women be excused, also? We can’t claim male privilege here. We can only claim greatness privilege. Solo is, without question, great. So we’ve extended her the same privilege that we’ve extended Ray Rice, Ray McDonald, Greg Hardy…the list goes on. Maybe this is a great day for women’s rights.

It’s a complicated case, one without a definitive answer. As long as Solo returns America to the top of the women’s soccer pyramid, I suspect that she’ll continue to have clean sheets—both on the field and on her criminal record.



17 Replies to “What Does Hope Cost?”

  1. VTNoah

    Great opening article for the new site. Glad you guys have teamed up. Do you think that if Solo wasn’t as attractive but still had the same criminal record the USWNT would keep her on the roster?

    • Bark M Post author

      I definitely think it’s debatable. Granted, Solo’s never had a conviction, but neither has Ray Rice or Ray McDonald.

      I think her star quality and her goalkeeping ability were items 1 and 1A in the decision to not suspend her from the team. After all, who else can you sell to middle America on this team? Alex Morgan would be your best bet, but she’s coming off an injury. Nobody else draws ratings.

  2. kvndoom

    She’s rich, she’s famous, she’s hot. So of course she’s above the law. This is America, after all. She’d have to kill somebody to do serious time, and even then that’s not guaranteed, just ask Ray Lewis…

    But damn, she’s hot…

  3. jz78817

    I think the real “solution” here is to stop excusing the behavior of shitty people just because they’re good at playing a game, or make music we like. I don’t care how great an athlete you are, or how many millions of tween girls adore you, if you do shit that would land me in prison then that’s where you belong too.

  4. Shawn Ritchie

    I think you’re drawing the wrong conclusion here. “Great sportsing women should be forgiven their crimes just like great sportsing men!” is horseshit, and “we should lock these assholes up, Ray Rice and Hope Solo both, just like we do every poor black shlub north of 96th who the cops decided to s’n’f 100 times until they found a roach in his pocket” is what we should aspire to.

    • Bark M Post author

      I didn’t draw any conclusion. My conclusion, if I even have one, is that talented people get a pass in society. The best salesman can miss every Friday morning meeting. The best artist can be a prick who nobody wants to deal with. Such is life. Right, wrong, or indifferent, it’s just the way it is.

      • MrFixit1599

        This is the point I was about to make. I am very good at my job, and it is a specified job. There are very few people in the USA at least that have the knowledge base and skill set that I do. Granted it is also a relatively narrow field, but I get away with much more than I should. Have a few too many beers the night before and get a late start? No big deal. Take an extra day or 2 to finally get that service report filled out? No big deal. Late on getting receipts and expenses turned in? No big deal. Spend wayyyyyyy too much money at the bar in Mexico? No big deal. Any of the other service tech’s could never get away with all that I do. Now I realize this could all possibly end, but it hasn’t for 10 years, so I doubt it will anytime soon.

  5. Dirty Dingus McGee

    Momma taught me ” If you can’t say something nice about someone, say nothing”

    1) She appears to have all the required girl parts
    (I did the Google search)

  6. Ronnie Schreiber

    In the complete video, Ray Rice hit her back after she hit him twice and was winding up to take a third shot at him. That’s likely why both of their criminal cases were adjudicated the way they were. That’s what the largest number of domestic violence cases, about half, are really like: mutual. Unfortunately that doesn’t fit the contemporary narrative of two X chromosomes good, one Y chromosome bad.

  7. AoLetsGo

    Nice article and of course great winners get a lot of slack that is the way it has always been.
    You named a few I would add:
    General Patton
    Hard to pick just one NBA player but I would go with “Mr. Practice” Allen Iverson
    Terrelle Pryor (for you Ohio hommies)

  8. everybodyhatesscott

    Rice got Suspended and had a national outrage. I wonder how many people even know solo was arrested. The usual suspects who want any man accused to be put in prison are extremely silent. So maybe your broader “talent gets away with more” is true but the lack of the chattering classes chattering is what bugs me more. That said, she really shouldn’t be suspended without a conviction.

    Also, Ray Rice was suspended (for self defense) and if you follow hockey, Slava Voynov of the LA kings was pretty much suspended all year without a conviction.

  9. Domestic Hearse

    If anyone has lived up to their name, literally and figuratively, at seminal points throughout her life, it’s Hope. Solo.


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