It’s tempting to respond to the cries of a “double standard” against Hope Solo with a segment of “Really!?! with Seth and Amy.”
Really? There’s a double standard against Hope Solo? She said something totally nasty about one of her teammates at the 2007 Women’s World Cup, but people actually like her because of it because it makes her seem like a badass. Really.
Really? A double standard? Landon Donovan quickly moved to apologize for talking in public about David Beckham — saying the same stuff that tons of Galaxy fans were saying as well — but there’s a double standard against Hope Solo? Really? Donovan and Beckham actually sorted it out while Solo still holds a grudge … and wait a minute, that grudge blew open with something she said? Really?
Really? Have any of Hope’s fans ever listened to a sports talk show? If a backup quarterback ever said, “I would have made those passes,” Colin Cowherd wouldn’t even need a microphone to broadcast his show nationwide. He’d just stand up on the roof at ESPN and yell.
Yeah, really! And then Solo does an interview with Jeremy Schaap, and her fans gripe that he asked her about her relationship with the older women’s national team players? After she wrote a book that talked about that relationship?
Really! If Jeremy Schaap interviewed Jose Canseco about his books, do Hope’s fans think he would not ask him about steroids? Really?
And the E:60 video is all Hope’s side! Where’s Cat Whitehill? Where’s Julie Foudy? Where’s Briana Scurry? Really!
Really! And yet Hope has fans on Twitter who say the old guard refuses to “pass the torch.” The Who can keep touring until they don’t have anyone left, but Brandi Chastain’s supposed to disappear at age 40 like some soccer-specific remake of Logan’s Run? Hope’s the one with a memoir out and the excerpts at espnW about her conflicts with the “old guard,” but they’re the ones keeping the past alive?
Really! Really? ….
(This has been “Really?! with Seth and Amy)
So yes, I’m a little skeptical of the “double standard” notion — at least in terms of how Solo and her book have been treated in the media. The Schaap interview is labeled as “contentious” — which is often Schaap’s style, anyway — and yet Schaap didn’t really challenge anything she said in the book. Schaap didn’t fire back with, “You lost respect for Kristine Lilly? Really?” He asked her to name a name that’s named in the book so they could discuss it.
What I said the last time I wrote on this book two weeks ago is still valid — there are multiple sides to a lot of the issues in Solo’s book, and the other sides aren’t talking. That’s not acquiescence on the part of the “old guard” just because Solo’s book hit the NYT best-sellers list. A lot of NYT best-sellers are political smears, and the politicians in question often don’t respond to them, either. Silence is often a valid PR strategy in such cases.
With so few people speaking up, Solo is really getting a free pass on her unflattering portrayal of players who still have a lot of fans, no matter what Solo’s Twitter echo chamber may say. It’s all her side of the story — which, again, is the point of a memoir. If you lose respect for Lilly, Hamm, Scurry and company because of Solo’s book, that’s really your fault, not Solo’s.
So it’s difficult to make a case for a double standard in terms of the media coverage. What about elsewhere?
And here’s where it gets tricky. Would a men’s team ostracize a player the way the USWNT did to Solo?
I had a long private conversation with another journalist about this yesterday, and we couldn’t think of a case of another athlete being ostracized the way Solo was. But we didn’t know of someone saying the things Solo said in 2007. We also didn’t know of someone being benched the way Solo was — starting goalkeeper until the semifinals, then suddenly yanked from the lineup.
Maybe such a thing has happened to a hockey goaltender or football quarterback somewhere along the way. Men’s teams have their internal disputes as well, often protected by a code of silence and vague words in the media. Perhaps someone at this weekend’s Victory Tour game in Rochester will ask Abby Wambach why, as depicted in Solo’s words, she suddenly thought Briana Scurry was better-suited to the World Cup task than Solo was in 2007. I’d be surprised if the interviewer got a complete answer.
But it’s hard to come up with anything that matches every aspect of Solo’s case — the undisputed starter, with no injuries to consider, suddenly being benched.
Was Solo treated differently within the team because it was a team of women? We really don’t have enough evidence to say. We know men can be called out within the team for their practice habits — ask Allen Iverson. But even if someone were to claim flat-out that Solo was benched for her performance in practice, one of several possibilities floated and never nailed down, could we really compare Iverson’s case with Solo’s?
No. They’re just too different. And not just because they’re men and women.
Solo’s unique. That’s why she’s selling books. And that’s why people are going to discuss and debate what she says. No double standard there.