There is a growing clamor of media voices calling for an athlete accused of domestic violence to be pulled from competition until the case is resolved. But unlike the recent stories that have unfolded in the NFL, this time the call is for the U.S. women's national soccer team to suspend goalie Hope Solo.
In June, Solo pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges stemming from an incident in which her 17-year-old nephew and half-sister sustained injuries.
But Solo was on the field Thursday night as the U.S. beat Mexico 4-0 in a friendly in Rochester, N.Y. Media reaction has been critical to U.S. Soccer's decision to keep Solo in action, and some of the nation's largest outlets have weighed in with strong views. Consider ...
Kate Fagan of ESPN wrote a column that was accompanied with the headline "Why Hope Solo Should Be Suspended From Team USA -- Immediately."
Solo is accused of violence against a family member; she should be suspended until she handles her legal issues. It's worth noting that a lack of national coverage (to this moment, anyway) about Solo's situation isn't as much a reflection of a double-standard in the coverage of assault, it's more a reflection of the attention paid to the NFL versus the attention paid to women's sports. Female athletes mostly fly below the radar -- for better and for worse.
Even so, the U.S. women's national team is sending the wrong message by allowing Solo to continue playing while she deals with these allegations.
New York Times columnist Juliet Macur pointed out that Solo also continued to play for the Seattle Reign in the National Women's Soccer League after charges were brought:
It takes a lot to match the N.F.L. these days when it comes to missteps in the handling of players charged with assaulting family members and loved ones. But Thursday, at a time when domestic violence in sports is dominating the national conversation, U.S. Soccer did just that -- again -- by keeping Solo in goal when she shouldn't have been anywhere near it.
Cindy Boren of the Washington Post wrote about the power of outside forces:
NFL stars like Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Jonathan Dwyer and Adrian Peterson were banished after massive sponsor, political and fan pressure, but Nike, for instance, has remained silent on Solo.
John Smallwood of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote about how Solo is as much of a role model as the NFL players:
If you've ever attended a match played by the U.S. women's soccer team, you know thousands of girls in the stands scream in adoration. Their passion for their female soccer heroes is as intense as that for any NFL player. Solo is one of the USA's biggest stars, and kids are drawn to her.
And syndicated columnist Roland Martin, a non-sports commentator, tweeted this:
— rolandsmartin (@rolandsmartin) September 19, 2014
ESPN's Robert Flores called attention to the issue of Solo's participation before the match:
— Robert Flores (@RoFloESPN) September 18, 2014
The U.S. Soccer Federation does have some time to change its mind about Solo. The U.S. women's national team starts the qualifying process for the 2015 World Cup with a match Oct. 15 against Trinidad & Tobago.