Breaking News: Superstar athlete gets in drunken rage and physically assaults family members.
Sounds all to familiar at this point, right?
What if I told you that the headline above happened in the height of the domestic violence craze in 2014, what would you expect to happen to that athlete. You would probably expect some sort of response from the governing body of that specific sport, right? From the team, right? A public apology from the player, right? A substantial suspension, of course. A loss of sponsorships, endorsement money, and the destruction of that players reputation? An all out media onslaught filled with finger-wagging analysts and adamant demands for that player to be banned from that sport for life? Corporations lining up to threaten to pull advertisement money from the particular sport commission if drastic measures weren't taken in an expeditious fashion? Lines of picketing citizens protesting outside of games where that superstar was going to be playing on a regular basis.
Seems automatic, right?
Ray Rice, Ray McDonald, Greg Hardy, Adrian Peterson. 2014 was the year of the domestic dispute in sports. Rather it was a TMZ video of a man punching out his soon to be wife in an elevator in a casino, or a man taking it much too far in an effort to discipline his son, if there was one collective story that dominated the sports headlines in the last half of the year, it was domestic abuse.
However, there was one incident that sticks out. The case of Hope Solo.
You see, when Hope Solo decided to get shit-faced plastered and assault her sister and teenage nephew on Saturday, June 21, 2014, you barely heard a word about it. When she was taken into custody by police officers in in a drunken rage and hurled expletives and resisted arrest, there was no breaking news scroll at the bottom of the ESPN screen. You didn't have Stephen A. and Skip devoting an entire week of First Take to the assault in the same fashion that they did with the Rice and Peterson incidents. In fact, when it comes to the response of media hype the response was virtually nonexistent.
You would think that would be the case, considering Hope's sketchy history with intoxicated violence, including a full blown fist fight with her husband in which reports state she instigated. but maybe, just maybe, the media decided they were going to let the system play itself out. Maybe they had faith in the governing bodies of sports to take the lead and lay down the hammer, similar to Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, and Greg Hardy, who lost an entire year of playing time. On the contrary, Hope Solo sat out (wait for it) ONE GAME.
Surely the people who pay their hard earned money to these sports entities would not approve of such a lenient suspension. I mean hell, look at the reaction to Rice's two-game suspension. I'm positive they wouldn't let that slide, right? Wrong. Clearly four charges of domestic violence for Hope Solo isn't enough for the lynch mob of public opinion to kick in.
We can always count on corporations to take a moral stance on such heinous acts, cant we? Like they did with Kobe. Tiger Woods lost half a BILLION dollars in endorsements just for cheating on his wife. Adrian Peterson lost sponsorship contracts with Nike, Castrol Oil, and other companies for taking a switch to his child's behind. In a ten-day span, Nike, Rawlings, AirTran, and Upper Deck all jumped ship on Michael Vick after his dog fighting incident. Ray Rice lost every endorsement and even had his name and resemblance wiped from EA Sports Madden '15. If all else failed, surely we can count on companies to break ties with a person with four pending counts of domestic violence, right? Wrong, again. Hope Solo has actually ADDED endorsements since her arrest.
Why the glaring discrepancy?
Why is Solo treated so blatantly different than her counterparts with similar legal troubles. Why is it so easy for companies to break ties with the likes of Peterson, and Vick, and Rice, and Hardy, and Woods, and Bryant, all while standing with Hope Solo? Why is it so easy for the media to slaughter the reputation of each of those people, while during the exact same time frame, remain completely silent on the greatest goalie in US Soccer history's malfeasance? Why did calls for banishment resound in several instances, but in this case, a one-game suspension was more than enough?
Two answers come to mind.
First, there is a troubling yet common-place mindset that in cases of domestic violence, women can never be considered the aggressor. Despite witness accounts claiming Solo attacked both her sister and nephew in a drunken rage, the idea of a woman committing such acts is difficult for some to swallow enough to condemn. Janay Rice, on several occasions admitted to her role in the spat including slapping Ray Rice twice before he struck her. In America's eyes, the image of her unconscious body on an elevator floor still makes her the victim. However, when Stephen A. Smith had the balls to speak out on the idea that sometimes women actually CAN provoke situations through physical and verbal attacks, he was neutered with a suspension from ESPN. The media was put in an even bigger pickle when Brittany Griner and Glory Johnson got in a domestic dispute. Many of us don't even like to have the conversation that SOMETIMES, the actions of CERTAIN women are overly violent and abusive.
Oh yea... and then there's that whole PRIVILEGE thing. Its hard to ignore the fact that when you step back and look at the way the media, the public, and the court system has handled Hope Solo in comparison to every other incident, one thing that stands out is race.
Here's an experiment. Try a google image search for Ray Rice's mugshot. Now Adrian Peterson. Now Greg Hardy. Now, try to search for Hope Solo's mugshot. Notice a difference? Do you remember seeing her face plastered on ESPN after her domestic violence arrest? A judge found NASCAR racer Kurt Busch had choked and beat his girlfriend. He sat out a few races and returned to the track with no charges, no coverage, and little, if any, harm done to his reputation. Meanwhile, Ray Rice is sitting at home unable to be signed by a team. In an industry driven by headlines and sensationalization, why is it so easy to send certain people through the media ringer while others are given the silent treatment? Why has the major soccer bodies protected and guarded Hope Solo, while the other commissions have thrown others under the bus?
This week we celebrated the Women's World Cup victory. We watched Hope Solo anchor a defense against the best female players in the world. We also heard very little about her delayed trial coming up in September (another amazing convenience). We even watched as the world celebrated her holding up a Golden Glove trophy (how ironic). All I could think about was "GOD DAMN she got off easy"... I wonder why?