Muscles Fade, Memories Don’t

Hope Solo SoccerIf anyone in the hierarchy of U.S. Soccer thought that Hope Solo’s domestic violence was going to quietly fade away, they seriously miscalculated. The team miscalculated as well.

The case reared its ugly head the other day when new details emerged about the incident and how relatives of Solo sharply disagree with the spin that was put on the incident by Hope Solo and her handlers.

I was not in the home that night; I don’t know what happened. It didn’t sound so good and in fact, it sounded like a family in drunken turmoil. When the police arrived, Ms. Solo allegedly resisted arrest. I am neither judge nor jury; I am only someone who lectures and consults on the topic of ethics. Whatever happened inside of that home it was a whole lot of stupid wrapped in bad choices and lousy consequences.

Kevin Baxter, writer for LA Times (June 8, 2015) talked about Solo’s teammates forming a protective bubble around Solo:

“’Hope’s my teammate,’ Abby Wambach said. ‘We are creating a bubble and we want nothing to penetrate that bubble right now…All of our focus is on what we, individually, can do to help our team win games,’ said Wambach, who had previously clashed with Solo. ‘That is our focus. And nothing else is going to get in the way of that.’”

Solo’s coach, Jill Ellis has said:

“’That was a long time ago,’ she said of Solo’s arrest. ‘We’ve moved on. And she’s been a fantastic player and a teammate.’”

The Problem with Spin

Public relations people and politicians (two very closely related professions), like to use words like “spin.” We take a story that is very negative and we somehow turn it into something positive.

For example, if there was no tape of what occurred in the elevator of a casino, and you saw a man dragging a near unconscious woman through the doors and he said, “No need to call the police. She had a reaction to the clam sauce and I am getting her epi-pen,” you might think: Oh, what a nice man. How can I help him?

However spin is a funny thing. You can make a domestic abuse case into a family-fun cribbage night, and as long as the story is carefully crafted and constructed all appears to be just jolly; like one of those Hallmark movies. However, when just one little card or block is removed from the story, it all comes tumbling down.

The team may be spinning their story and the coach and U.S. Soccer, but it is not the impenetrable bubble the team would like. You see, nothing is ever put quite behind us and we live with the consequences of our actions.

As to the “bubble,” it has already been penetrated. It may not affect the performance of the team one iota; the U.S. is the favorite and favorites usually win. However, I’ve no doubt that should something go wrong; should an errant goal be let in here or there, there will be a whole new army of spin doctors blaming us.

“The media is to blame,” they will say. “Why did they have to bring up that old stuff? It caused a lack of focus. We hope they are happy with the result.”

Here are the problems with that faulty spin logic:

Domestic violence is domestic violence – and it’s wrong. A world class athlete allegedly getting loaded and then allegedly assaulting a family member is domestic violence whether it happens in an elevator or in a home. Domestic violence does not know gender. Domestic violence cuts across all economic lines and professions. No profession makes domestic violence acceptable; if a surgeon smacks around his girlfriend or a soccer player assaults her family member, one is not a more acceptable crime than another.

No one needs a violent surgeon in society; off the field no one needs a violent athlete.

We’ve moved on

U.S. Soccer may have moved on from Hope Solo’s domestic violence “inconvenience,” but many others clearly did not. It could be because the true facts of the case never emerged and it could also be – possibly be, that many people scratched their heads that the team chose to continue with an athlete who has made several poor decisions for herself.

Ray Rice was a gifted, talented athlete (still is), but he is out of football right now. Bad decisions do that. Other running backs have taken his place. You see, what spin cannot fix is time. Muscles weaken and reflexes slow. Poor choices and their consequences remain. It has already affected Hope Solo’s endorsement dollars and who knows what other opportunities in the future? It is far better to teach ethics and to review choices before bad consequences occur.

The bubble they have put around the team may be designed to keep bad influences out, but bad choices always come from within. Without a strong sense of ethics, without an understanding that our bad choices remain with us, we learn very little as athletes or as people.

I wish everyone at U.S. Soccer very well, but I sometimes feel the bubble they cherish is more suffocating than protecting























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