Hope Solo, a 33-year-old professional soccer player who is a two-time Olympic Gold medalist with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, recently broke the team’s record for shutouts as goalkeeper at an impressive 72 games just last week.
What seems to be forgotten is that Solo is facing charges of domestic abuse similar to fellow professional athlete Ray Rice.
This past June, Solo was charged with two misdemeanor accounts of 4th degree domestic assault against her half-sister and nephew after an altercation that took place in her half-sister’s home. The police report stated that Solo was “intoxicated and upset” when she got into an argument with her 17-year-old nephew. She called him “too fat” which prompted him to ask her to leave the house. He went into another room where Solo followed him as the argument escalated, and then “charged” at him and swung a punch at him. They fought on the ground and she “repeatedly punched him in the face.” Once her half-sister tried to break them up, Solo then attacked her and punched her several times in the face. In court, Solo claimed she was not guilty and apologized for her actions. Her trial date is set for Nov. 4.
Interestingly, this is not the first time Solo has been involved in this type of situation. Back in November 2012 before she and now husband Jerramy Stevens, former NFL tight end, were married, the two alongside Solo’s brother, were involved in an incident that led to Stevens’ arrest and left Solo and her brother injured. After charges were dropped, Stevens was released the next day — the same day the couple married. That is ironic considering that Rice and his then fiancée Janay Palmer pulled an identical move, marrying a day after Rice pled not guilty and was sentenced to therapy for first-time offenders.
I, like most people, am wondering why it took the same issue to occur to a different athlete in a different league to bring attention to Solo. There are multiple factors that play into this. One, as I mentioned before in a previous column, has a lot to do with the audience’s response and it is clear that people are more inclined to immediately react to video footage of an incident rather than its written description. This again plays into the idea that there are levels of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is domestic violence no matter if it was caught on tape or not, so this raises the question of why Solo has not been punished for her actions. She continues to play with her club team the Seattle Reign as well as the National Team as they approach the final stages of qualifying for the 2015 Women’s World Cup. It is also important to note that she has not lost any endorsement deals as of late. Nike dropped Rice as well as Adrian Peterson, running back for the Minnesota Vikings who was recently let go due to being charged for beating his 4-year-old son, but they have yet to reprimand Solo.
Neil Buethe, the director of communications for U.S. Soccer told USA Today that the milestone Solo has been chasing was essentially more important than disciplining her for the domestic violence incident.
Buethe’s statement is quite astounding. Buethe also did not even address her wrongdoings, instead calling it “a personal situation” rather than its actual name. That tactic resembles similar ones demonstrated by the NFL when they attempted to brush Rice’s incident under the rug by not further investigating.
Another factor is the notion that football is substantially more popular than soccer, let alone women’s soccer. The NFL is definitely the dominant force when it comes to professional sports in this country, and it is very possible that part of the reason why Solo’s case was not publicized nearly as much is because not as many people would care. Again, this sheds light on not only sports, but also our society and what we decide to pay attention to, no matter the context surrounding it.
We should care about domestic violence and be aware of it regardless of where it happens or what associations are affiliated with the victims and perpetrators.
I also believe that race and gender played a role in the knowledge of Solo’s acts versus those of Rice, although they are not blatant claims. I think it would naïve to ignore the possibility that Rice’s race and gender played a role in the significantly larger amount of attention he received in comparison to Solo. Rice’s situation feeds into the stereotype of men, especially black men, being aggressive, destructive, dangerous, etc. Not to discredit any of the wrongdoing that Rice is responsible for, but I think it is inevitable for people to jump to conclusions based on demographics before knowing and understanding why a certain person is being brought to our attention over others. Based on our history and culture as Americans, we are much more inclined to condemn a black man versus a white woman, even if they are guilty of the same crime. Fundamentally, I think it goes without saying that a black man and a white woman are being charged for the same crime and who are also a part of the same industry, should be punished accordingly and immediately by their respective leagues
On the other hand, I believe that Solo will be punished eventually, but the fact that nothing has happened yet and that the National Team does not seem to make her “personal situation” a priority, may infer that it will take a lot longer for a penalty to go into effect than we all think it should.