Mega-athlete and global reality star Hope Solo receives an abundance of punishment from critics and fans. While much of the verbal flack directed towards the polarizing goalkeeper is deserved, thanks to a well-publicized drunken altercation with family members and subsequent pending legal matter, what gets lost in the shuffle is the brilliance of her gritty play on the field and competitive fire.
In the wake of the US women’s soccer team’s disappointing loss at the hands of Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinals on penalty kicks, Solo was forcefully critical of the methods employed to defeat her team.
“I’m very proud of this team. But I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today,” remarked Solo to Grant Wahl of Sports Illustrated in an interview.
Solo went on to intrinsically analyze and critique the nuances of the tedious Swedish approach in basically playing not to lose. Of course the live spectators and viewers are the losers when witnessing a team employ conservative and vanilla strategy, especially on the global stage. She utilized coach-speak and soccerlish to effectively articulate the game plan implemented by Swedish coach Pia Sundhage, who ironically brandished the same style of play as the coach of team USA and Solo from 2007 to 2012.
Of course there was immediate backlash to Solo’s comments, including a scolding from former teammate Julie Foudy of ESPN. Though Solo has kept her shirt through various tirades, Foudy called the goalkeeper’s comments “classless” (In 1999 Brandi Chastain (teammate of Foudy) tore off her jersey in celebration of a winning goal. Apparently that gesture quantifies as class.)
With the viral recruitment of the PC police in all levels of society, it is becoming a rarity when an athletic competitor can vent their frustration without fear of reprisal. Sports need a designated villain and in the case of women’s sports, the generation of a base audience. In the case of Solo’s calculated rant, she not only displayed passion and dismay in the wake of a tough loss, but in a sense was looking out for an unsatisfied audience who were prevented from witnessing a potentially high level and high intensity match-up thanks to a weak strategy from the Swedes. In basketball this would be akin to running the shot clock all the way down or in football running dive and dive into the middle of the line of scrimmage and clinging to the notion that one’s opponent will commit a fatal miscue.
While winning is the paramount goal of any athletic contest, Hope is entirely correct in that winning ugly is just that. The networks need to examine the concept of a Hope and husband Jerramy (Stevens) reality based show immediately.
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