I am certainly in agreement with the cultural standard that the NFL is being forced, kicking and screaming, to define, that standard being that the professional sports organizations should not give the American public the opportunity to cheer physical abusers of domestic partners and children. ( The latest in the purge here.) Professional athletes are paid heroes, and we must choose our heroes well: they can inspire, but they also corrupt. It is not too much to ask athletes being paid millions, who have their faces and names emblazoned on merchandise, their forms plastered on children’s walls and their fame and popularity used to sell shoes and breakfast cereal, to model decent behavior. In fact, it is essential. The NFL’s corporate sponsors understand this even if the violence-addicted fools who run the league itself do not. (See: Cognitive Dissonance).
Will other respectable professional sports—the NBA, Major League Baseball, the NHL, the PGA—have to follow football’s reluctant lead? I don’t see how they can avoid it. It will be interesting to see how the lesser sports, like professional bowling, and grittier, the macho sports like ultimate fighting and NASCAR handle this. It may well be that the definition of a respectable sport in this country will include whether it continues to promote stars who punch their family members and lovers in their faces and beat their illegitimate children with tree branches. To which I say, good. It’s a start.
That leaves the perplexing mystery, however, of Hope Solo.
Surely you know Hope. She is the tall, beautiful, sexy, outspoken female U.S. soccer star, one of the top goalies in the sport, who has won two Olympic gold medals and is one of the best known celebrities in the supposedly burgeoning sport the rest of the world calls football. She was on “Dancing With The Stars;” she posed nude in “ESPN Magazine’s “body issue.” She’s making sports page headlines on the field regularly, just like Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice. Last Saturday, for example, the United States women’s soccer team beat Mexico 8-0 in Utah, with Solo passing goalie Briana Scurry for the U.S. shutout record. She is also an alleged abuser. Solo was arrested and has been charged with two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence in the assault of her sister and 17-year-old nephew,and is awaiting trial in November. Photos of the injuries to Solo’s sister and nephew were published in the news media (above–that’s Hope on the right). Continue reading