One of the most puzzling things comes to mind when I think about athletes, no matter the sport. Invincibility. But unlike Superman, more than kryptonite could bring the downfall of a popular athlete thanks to their personal tirades after the final score. And that’s what happened this month to U.S. National Women’s National (soccer) Team (USWNT) goalie and daughter of Han Solo (still working to confirm), Hope Solo.
It’s clear Ms. Solo, the start-studded anchor to a number of women’s final matches, including that of the World Cup last year, never understood two things: words (actions) have consequences and keep it to yourself.
In one of the quarterfinal matches of this year’s Rio Olympics, the U.S. fell to a luke-warm Sweden team. It was a rather shocking moment for many who figured the Americans would go…all…the…way.
Not the case.
America was cut by the Swedes, obviously angering Solo who took it upon herself to vocalize to Sports Illustrated letting you know what was on her mind. She called the Swedish a “bunch of cowards,” adding “the best team did not win” when asked about the draw-turned penalty kick match by a reporter.
Then we waited.
What to do about Hope? Do we let it pass? Do we Lochte her? It took a bit, but Wednesday, the U.S. Soccer federation suspended Solo for six months. Her USWNT contract was also terminated within a sixth of the time it takes to play a soccer game (15 minutes for you non Futbol fans).
There’s a high chance Solo spoke directly from her heart, which is and was understandable. But she is now an example because she wasn’t ready to accept what her First Amendment comes with — potential repercussions. She insulted a team that was better. Unless they cheat, the winning team is better. Simple physics, or whatever.You can’t win every game and while the Olympics is the pinnacle of sports, the games aren’t given. Solo wasn’t ready for the potential of losing and really was ready to emotionally stabilize herself in a post-losing world. “But they won” is not the definition of sportswomanship. It’s a defensive remark swallowed in order to justify a game you lost. Doesn’t “they won” sound a helluva lot better than “we lost?” You betcha.
With a terminated contract, there’s probably not much left for the 17-year veteran. Solo was only suspended one other time — in 2015 after her husband was arrested on DUI suspicion in California. She was not charged in the incident. However, she has been on the crisp of criticism by allegedly poking what some see as fun at the Zika woes in Brazil.
Unfortunately there’s probably not a learning lesson in this for Solo, who I contest was not the victim of a draconian decision based on her gender. Her words got her into hot water, not her genetic makeup. Perhaps the next time she plays, she can withhold the crafty remarks and let cooler head (her head) prevail.
After all, aren’t the Olympics about people who are good at sports being good sports?