Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Solo standard

Let's play a game, this gloomy June morning. Let's play a game called Let's Imagine.

Let's imagine there's a professional athlete out there, a true star, perhaps the best in the world at a particular skill.

Let's imagine this professional athlete gets drunk, goes to a party and provokes an altercation in which said athlete slams a half-sister's head on the floor.

Let's imagine the police arrive to arrest said athlete, and the athlete gets belligerent, insults the arresting officers and eventually has to be restrained.

Let's imagine said athlete is male and plays in the National Football League. Now let's imagine said athlete is not male and plays soccer for the U.S. national team.

Say hello to Hope Solo, everyone.

Who did all of the above, according to ESPN's Outside The Lines. And who ultimately skated on a technicality. And who was brilliant in goal, as usual, in a 3-1 women's World Cup victory over Australia last night.

Say it again: And who was brilliant in goal, as usual, in a 3-1 women's World Cup victory over Australia.

Does that happen if she plays in the NFL?

And if it does happen, is it only after she has done significant time in Roger Goodell's hoosegow, ala Ray Rice and others?

You can hold Goodell's feet to the fire all you want for his league's limp (and ultimately self-serving) response to domestic violence. He and his league have earned that. They only got interested when that security video of Rice smacking around his then-fiancée surfaced, and they've been in frantic catch-up mode since -- a public relations play so pathetically obvious it would be laughable were it not for the seriousness of the issue it's allegedly addressing.

And yet, the NFL still has it all over the honchos at U.S. women's soccer.

Their response to the events in Kirkland, Wash., last summer has been no response at all, and that response has been driven by nothing but naked expedience. The plain truth of it is, they need Solo in goal right now. And so she's in goal.

Unlike the NFL, no one at U.S. soccer ever bothered to look into the incident in Kirkland, according to Nancy Armour of USA Today.  No one ever disciplined Solo for it. The only thing for which she was ever formally disciplined was an incident in which her husband, Jerramy Stephens, was arrested for driving drunk in a U.S. soccer van, with Solo alongside.

Solo got 30 days for that. But she got nothing for beating up her half-sister.

You'd hate to think that's because the people who run women's soccer in the U.S. -- women's soccer, for god's sake -- care less about domestic violence than the Neanderthals who run the NFL. Or that one of the reasons they do care less about it, aside from gross self-interest, is because the perpetrator was a woman and not a man.

You'd hate to think that. Instead, let's think about what the U.S. women's coach, Jill Ellis, said when asked about the OTL revelations about Solo.

"That was a long time ago," Ellis told Armour. "I'll be honest, we've moved on."

Imagine Roger Goodell saying that about Ray Rice or any of the NFL players who've subsequently been disciplined for domestic violence. Now imagine the public outrage.

Where is it here?



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