This past Friday, Hope Solo and the USA Women’s Soccer Team lost in heartbreaking fashion to Sweden’s national team. Unfortunately, Solo lost again once the field was cleared on Friday in her performance off the field.
In her post game interview, Solo referred to the Swedish team as “cowards” and said, “the best team did not win today.” I know losing is one of the worst feelings in the world. Losing when you are the clear favorite in front of the entire world must make the empty pit in your stomach feel that much deeper. But that does not in any way justify any negative comment made by Solo that evening.
Hope lost fans on Friday night. It may not have been her best game ever, but that’s understandable. You can’t play at the top of your game every night. Although Hope lost on the field Friday, she had the chance to be a winner in the locker room; to take her defeat with grace and rise above the feelings in the moment. Did she stop to think about the other team? I’m sure most of us have been the underdog in some way at some point in our lives. The magical feeling of beating the Goliath when you have been labeled as the David is magical and will remain with you for the rest of your life. Hope tried to take that feeling away from the Swedish soccer team, to drag them down with her in her feelings of defeat. That’s one way to lose off the field, Hope.
Did Hope think about how her actions would reflect her team, coaches or country? It’s one thing to choose to how to represent yourself, but bringing others and your country with you is taking it to a whole new level. Wearing USA on the front of your chest is an honor that many athletes only dream of doing. On Friday night Hope abused that privilege. She let her country down. It’s not the fact that Team USA lost on Friday, while that is disappointing, the real hurt came when Hope did not choose to win off the field. There is more than one type of winner. Are people who have trophies and medals winners? Absolutely. But there is another type of winner—that wins off the field. That winner may not have had the outcome they desired or have played the best game of their life, but that person is a winner because they handle themselves with grace and dignity and do not try to tear others down in hopes to make themselves feel better.
Hope was wrong when she said that the best team did not win Friday night. Teams are not just names on paper or stats compiled together. This is why the game is played. The best team on paper may not have won the game, but the best team on Friday won the game.
Being a leader is a very important responsibility. It’s 2016 — a time where young women need female role models to look up to. Did Hope stop and think how many young girls were watching the game and may have read her comments from Friday night? In my opinion, this fact right here was Hope’s most devastating loss on Friday night. She lost the chance to set an example for thousands of young women watching her on the world’s biggest stage. She did not demonstrate to these youth how a woman should hold and carry herself when faced with adversity. Hope taught young women that it’s ok to tear other women down to build yourself up. I’m sure there was at least one little girl watching the game, wearing her #1 USA jersey, dreaming of being Team USA’s keeper one day who saw the way Hope acted. One can only hope that when that little girl is in Hope Solo’s shoes, she will choose to win.
I can’t imagine the feelings Hope and her team is dealing with right now. But no matter how devastating, Hope could have chosen to follow her loss on the field with a win in the locker room.