Unethical Quote Of The Week, Olympics Division: Hope Solo

"Jim Kaat, meet Hope Solo. Hope...Jim."

“Jim Kaat, meet Hope Solo. Hope…Jim.”

“I thought that we played a courageous game. I thought that we had many opportunities on goal. I think we showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down; I’m very proud of this team. I also think we played a bunch of cowards. But, you know, the best team did not win today; I strongly, firmly believe that. I think you saw America’s heart. You saw us give everything that we had today. Unfortunately the better team didn’t win.”

—-U.S. women’s soccer team goalie Hope Solo,after the Swedish team eliminated the United States from the Olympic women’s soccer tournament in a penalty shootout Friday.

Diagnosis: Jerk.

I remember the first time I ever heard a representative of a losing team use the old “the best team didn’t win today” line.

It was 1967, the best summer of my life, when I spent my last carefree teenage school break following the greatest pennant race in baseball history. My team, the Boston Red Sox, were the surprise underdog in an amazing, see-saw four team race that had its outcome in doubt until the bitter end. The Sox, led by MVP and Triple Crown winner Carl Yasrtzemski, entered the final series at home against the first place Minnesota trailing by a single game. It was a two game series. If the Red Sox won both, they would be American League Champions after nearly 20 years of losing.

They did win both. I was at one of the games, among the most hopeful, raucous, joyous baseball crowd I have ever had the honor to be part of. Both games were hard fought, with surprising twists and turns like the whole season. Still, the Sox won. I was so proud of that gutsy young team, which I had rooted for through every nail-biting inning—the team was nicknamed “The Cardiac Kids”—of their 162 games, and never more happy going to bed after enduring a crucial, nerve-wracking contest.

The next day, I read in the sports pages a post-game statement by Twins pitcher Jim Kaat, who had started the game I attended. He said, “We’ve got to give Boston credit,but I think the best team and the best fans will be watching the Series on television.”

I thought it was an astonishingly  graceless and obnoxious quote by a losing athlete, the epitome of bad sportsmanship, and stupid to boot. If the Twins were so damn great, why were they ending the season tied (with the Tigers) for second place? By definition, the team that ends a season with the best record is the best team, and the team that loses the decisive game has proven that it is not the better team.

Solo’s statement was worse.

First of all, it was made at the Olympics, which is supposed to be about the spirit of honest competition (I know, I know), not winning and losing. Second, insulting the victorious team by calling them cowards really puts Solo in the Richard Nixon Poor Loser Hall of Fame. Solo “explained” her logic thusly:

“Sweden dropped off, didn’t want to open play. They didn’t want to pass the ball around. They didn’t want to play great soccer, entertaining soccer. It was a combative game, a physical game. Exactly what they wanted and exactly what their game plan was. They dropped into a 50. They didn’t try and press, they didn’t want to open the game and they tried to counter with long balls. We had that style of play when Pia was our coach. I don’t think they’re going to make it far in the tournament. I think it was very cowardly. But they won. They’re moving on, and we’re going home.”

I don’t know what dropping into a 50 is, as I would no more voluntarily watch a soccer match than attend an Alec Baldwin film festival, but I understand what Solo was saying. The Swedish team refused to play to the U.S. ‘s team’s strengths, and like underdog opponents (David comes to mind) since the beginning of competition, devised a strategy that minimized the disparity in ability between the teams and gave the Swedes a chance to prevail. “They didn’t want to play great soccer, entertaining soccer” is especially rich. No, Hope, they didn’t want to play the 5-2 final score match that U.S. fans would find “entertaining,” but the type of game that ended in a score with their team ahead. See, Hope, professional wrestling, not soccer, is the kind of sport that places “entertainment” over competition. The Swedish team was smart, so it wasn’t “great,” like the American team. How can someone hear words that petty and nonsensical come out of one’s mouth and not think, “Holy crap, what am I saying?”

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean make a reference to Donald Trump.

Former U.S. soccer star and current ESPN analyst Julie Foudy slammed Solo’s comments, saying correctly that for he to call the Swedish team cowards “for playing a tactically smart game is ridiculous and classless and it really doesn’t represent the house that we built in the U.S. team.”

Solo then took to Twitter, saying, “Losing sucks. I’m really bad at it.” I’ll have to think about how that can be a new rationalization called Solo’s Spin. “Don’t blame me for being a bad loser: I’m so great, I just don’t lose enough to get good at it.”

Oh, you’re a loser, all right, Hope.

Right down to the bone.

43 thoughts on “Unethical Quote Of The Week, Olympics Division: Hope Solo

  1. US better at offence. Sweden better at defence. Sweden managed to control the game so the US was only able to be offensive after the game.

    And the US goalkeeper was very offensive then.

    She missed the point of the Olympic Spirit, though that’s been honoured more in the breach than the observance since 1936.

  2. She doesn’t think they’ll get far in the tournament, eh? They got farther than we did. Also, Sweden’s no joke. They held us to a scoreless tie in last year’s World Cup.

  3. Wait Jack, this is important. What’s her religion and what does it have to say or not say about sportsmanship?

    And what if she’s afraid of being assassinated for being gracious? Apparently that’s a legitimate fear.

    • Ha! I was going to say something similar. I guess only jerky white Americans get to be seen solely as individual jerks, rather than a broad representation of all Americans, or whites, or Christians. Must be nice.

      • Because there isn’t an Arab-wide hatred of Jews that the Egypt fighter’s behavior exemplified. And the Lebanon team’s rejection of the Isreali athletes was completely unrelated to the Egypt fighter’s conduct.

        “Ha!” How do you two live with such a knee-jerk impulse to deny the obvious when it undermines your dearly held ideological nonsense? The refusal to shake hands is personal animus, based solely on religious bigotry, and the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Solo’s action had nothing to do with the identity of her opponent or their religion at all. In addition, Solo’s conduct was immediately condemned by her former team mate and others in her country. The Egyption rejection of the judo snub does not seem to have occurred….because it encourages the anti-Israeli hate. Almost no Americans will support Solo. Do you want to bet that the Egyptian fighter won’t be a hero in Egypt?

        In other words, your comparison is pathetic. Maybe Snopes has a job for you though.

        And thanks for providing a shining example of how progressives will fight like wolverines to avoid admitting unpleasant reality that suggests their cant has more than a few holes. When a non-Islamic nation team member refuses to shake hands with a Jew, let me know.

        • Because there isn’t an Arab-wide hatred of Jews that the Egypt fighter’s behavior exemplified.

          So you’re saying that there’s a historic systemic bias we need to be extra sensitive to? Thus any snub must be de-facto consider an extension of that bias not just the act of a disagreeable individual?

          I’ll keep that in mind in the future. Thank you Jack.

          • In obvious cases like that one, yes. But keep spinning. It’s fun to watch.

            Except that the bias in this case has nothing whatsoever to do with a “system” but rather an intolerant religion that easily generates mindless hate. Want to blur some more clear-cut distinctions?

        • In addition, Solo’s conduct was immediately condemned by her former team mate and others in her country. The Egyption rejection of the judo snub does not seem to have occurred….because it encourages the anti-Israeli hate.

          Egypt’s Olympic Committee distanced itself from what El Shehaby did, saying he was “alerted before the match to abide by all the rules and to have sporting spirit during his match with the Israeli player.”

          “What the player did after the match, and not shaking hands with his rival, is a personal action,” the committee said in a statement. http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4840921,00.html

          In other words, what he did was personal, and he was specifically directed to behave otherwise by his own country’s committee.

          • Well, personal in the sense that he did it, and it wasn’t an official gesture, which is not a condemnation, just a “don’t blame us” PR ploy.

            Find me the news stories about the war between the US and Sweden.

            • We did have something of a cold war going on in the 60s and 70s. Sweden vocally condemn the Vietnam War and we recalled our diplomat. More recently Sweden condemned our involvement in the Iraq War. Obviously Hope Solo doesn’t forget such things. Why can’t Americans be good sports? What is about Christians that keeps them from being civilized in sports? *handwring*

              • Americans can be and are good sports every day. It’s Hope Solo who can’t be — this is not the first time she has embarrassed herself and her country in this fashion, although it may be the worst case. Up ’til now she’s gotten a pass because she has generally been considered the best goalkeeper in the world, but she is also 35 and bound to be near the end of her career.

                By the way, the rest of the U.S. team did not echo Solo’s sentiments. They were naturally disappointed with the loss, but gracious in defeat.

                Hope Solo and gracious do not live in the same neighborhood.

    • I wasn’t aware of a white-Swedish blood bias that Solo was subject to. And I had forgotten about that Swedish team massacre by terrorists…thanks for reminding me.
      In the annals of lame and forced gotchas, this is a stand-out.

  4. She should not have called them cowards but there is nothing wrong with expressing an honest opinion that the better team did not win a close game. The NBA and NHL go four out of seven and history shows that is a far better way of making sure the best team wins a championship.

    I am a lifelong suffering Vikings fan. And the Vikings were better than the Falcons in 1998/99, and better than the Saints in 2010/11.

    • No equation here, Dan. I think you’ve got it backwards. If Solo was just “expressing an honest opinion” (and how can we tell when an opinion is honest or not in the first place?) that her losing team was the better one is pretty poor sportsmanship on its own and something that should come better in the context of an objective analysis, but calling out an opposing winning team as “cowards” is ugly and stupid, and the kind of thing that not only leaves a bad taste in everybody’s mouth but can fuel a feud. … as Valkygrrl noted, pen in cheek.

    • Nonsense. Why is 7 or 5 games better than one? It’s just a different test, that’s all. Were the 1969 Mets “better” than the Orioles? The stats say no. The final results say yes. It’s a per se jerkish comment. Any loser can say it. The smart and fair ones don’t.

    • Great pitcher too. He was understandably bitter: he started the game I was at, and his elbow “popped” in the second inning, forcing him to leave the game. It popped, though, because the Twins, thin on pitching, over-used him down the stretch.

      • Big, Dutch farm kid from Michigan. Lifetime 283-237 W-L; 3.45 ERA; 2,461 Ks.

        His arm “popped?” Eesch. “Walk it off son.”

  5. Holy crap! Was Solo trying to “talk like an Egyptian?” (thinking of a song – while referring to Jack’s post on the Egyptian athlete who lost a match)

      • Whew! Glad I re-read what you said. The first time I read it, I skimmed so fast, I thought you said, “Cool THE pop culture reference…” As if I had violated one of your cardinal rules for commenters. For a few minutes there, I was in brain overdrive, scrambling to answer a question to myself, “What the hell did I say THIS time to make him point his gun?”

          • I didn’t hallucinate. I simply mis-read something, and took an unnecessary detour into thought about it. What is a blog anyway, if not a place for someone – the blogger, at least – to document his hallucinations? I have a rough enough ride when visiting here, as things are. I really do not hallucinate as much as you seem to think I do. Keep me awake for 36 hours, though, and make me drive a dark desert highway (without cool wind in my hair, or the warm smell of colitas rising up in the air), at an hour of the night when I should be sleeping, and I just might, once again, see that white alligator that I saw crossing the road in front of me (at a safe enough distance for me to stop without causing an accident, thank you, alligator, I mean, brain), back in…1979, I think (it was, in fact, in California)…perhaps now you at least know that sometimes I know when I am hallucinating…

      • Interesting item from his wiki page:

        Durocher played a noteworthy role in erasing baseball’s color line. In the spring of 1947, he let it be known that he would not tolerate the dissent of those players on the team who opposed Jackie Robinson’s joining the club, saying:

        “I do not care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a fuckin’ zebra. I’m the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What’s more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you cannot use the money, I will see that you are all traded.”

        He greatly admired Robinson for his hustle and aggression, calling him “a Durocher with talent.”

          • In terms of today’s political parties, Durocher was a perfectly enabling, obedient “Republican” to Rickey’s “Progressive” ways. (I’m just throwing that out there, so that today’s Democrats can use it. I am fairly sure that both Rickey and Durocher were Democrats, in their time.)

  6. What’s going on here? Hope Solo acted like an ass; she got nailed for it by her teammates, her former teammates and sports commentators. Why bring in all this s–t about progressives, Muslims and politics? I have a vision of people marching in circles chanting spells to ward off their most feared shibboleths.

    • Are you referring to the two progressive defenders who tried to find some kind of double standard because I logically identified the root of the Egyptian’s lousy sportsmanship to religious bigotry and regional political hate, and did not do the same with Solo?

      I thought it was pretty ridiculous, myself.

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