Hope Solo seems to me like one bad ass b-----. That is just my personal opinion. Most recently renowned for her spot as starting goalie for the U.S. women's soccer team in the 2016 Olympics, she kicked things off (pun intended) as a forward on her Texas high school's team, where she scored a cumulative 109 goals and was named All-American by Parade Magazine twice. She continued to crush the competition and set records that have yet to be topped at the University of Washington. Later on, in 2004, she played 1,054 consecutive in-game minutes without letting in a goal. That is about ten straight games, which is a little ridiculous considering the skill levels she was likely up against.
Throughout her career, Solo has changed the way female soccer goalies view their roles on the field in addition to the way critics understand a woman's ability to train and perform in high-intensity athletic scenarios. After an emotional final game in the Rio Olympics against Sweden, however, she has been issued what is effectively her third public suspension. The 35-year-old may very well be facing the end of her national ass-kicking regime, a fact that many critics are applauding.
Hope Solo is a woman with a lot of feelings, and her personal life has not been without one's ordinary hardships. During the 2007 Women's World Cup, shortly after the death of her father, the unbeaten goalie was benched during the pivotal end of a match against Brazil; her replacement, Briana Scurry, let in four goals and they lost, dramatically. Solo later made public criticism of coach Greg Ryan, telling it exactly like it was and saying simply that she wouldn't have let those goals in -- and was essentially banished from the field and from even appearing in uniform for the duration of the competition. As one might expect, her teammates took the comment as a serious slight to the veteran Surry's character, and refused to eat with her or even make the journey home on the same flight.
Then in 2015, she was suspended from all activities with the national team for one month after an encounter with the police. Granted, she and her husband, former Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens, were driving sans headlights at 1:30 am and Stevens was suspected of driving under the influence. According to the police report, Solo acted belligerently towards officers upon his arrest, a factor which played largely into the US Soccer Federation's decision to suspend her. The incident occurred shortly after a domestic dispute involving Solo's extended family and two charges of assault whose exact nature is debated and which were later dismissed; the federation faced heavy criticism for their decision not to enact a hold on the keeper's career for that reason.
This timeline of events, while complicated and widely debated -- but undoubtedly tame when compared to the mishaps of many male athletes -- leads us to this year's summer Olympics. With Solo's dazzling support, the team shut out New Zealand, narrowly defeated France, tied with Colombia and finally faced off with Sweden, who placed their focus on defense and wound up beating us in a tie-breaking shootout.
Afterwards, Solo spoke to reporters, breathlessly touting the U.S. team's heart and willingness to deliver "great soccer" and called the Swedish team cowardly -- a remark that did not sit will with U.S. soccer officials. In apparent violation of their standard of conduct, she was issued a six-month suspension on Tuesday and her contract was terminated. A scathing article published recently by the New York Time places the blame wholeheartedly on Solo, citing her remarks in Rio as only the most recent of her embarrassing antics and referring to her 11-year service to the American women's team as the mere result of having "no American goalkeeper playing well enough to supplant Solo as the starter."
I'm sorry, am I missing something? A certain other, Rio-related incident involving Ryan Lochte comes to mind. As most everyone knows, the decorated U.S. swimmer was found pissing on the wall of a gas station bathroom last week, was indicted by local police, lied about it, and has yet to be punished. Not only has he yet to be punished, but he is planning his appearance at the 2020 Olympics and considering an offer to compete on Dancing with the Stars. His upcoming reality show, "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?", centers on his inexplicably mundane life, painting him as a good all-American boy who walks a glorified tightrope between dedicated daytime training sessions and picking up nameless blondes by night.
Serious infractions by athletes have most definitely been handled accordingly across the sporting spectrum; from drunk driving to on-camera domestic abuse to racist slurs, the American public has hungrily consumed scandal. We love to debate it, and demand punishment for the other team's players when punishment is due.
It is difficult to say with certainty that the backlash Solo received would have been doled out to a male athlete of her standing. The public wouldn't have it. But thanks to the minimal air time networks give to women's soccer -- not to mention the drastically small amount of funding they receive compared to that which is given to the U.S. men's team -- the general public is unaware of exactly how much Solo has accomplished. In spite of her mouth, her performance has been matched by none and, with the exception of last year's suspension, has never markedly wavered. One playground-level insult later, and her career is more than likely over. That, ladies and gentlemen, is a double standard.
Solo is an incredibly accomplished human being. In spite of all personal adversity in her life, she has continued to train with persistence and unequivocal power as a member of the U.S. women's team, which at this point is comprised largely of younger, less experienced women. The steps she has taken outside of the designated lines of good manners have apparently threatened what some must view of the sanctity of a good female athlete: having little to no voiced opinion. The argument that her crime stems from her inability to just play the game and keep her behavior low-key is a petty oversimplification of one person's stunning career -- and an embarrassment to the institution of women's soccer.