Sports media figures break the silence on women’s domestic violence.
If there’s one thing writers hate, it’s when another writer steals their thunder.
Indeed, last week, award-winning USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan stole mine with this piece on the Hope Solo fallout. That led to a panel discussion on ESPN’s Around the Horn, in which all four panelists agreed with Brennan.
And I could not have been happier. I’ve thrown enough thunderbolts, and don’t have Zeus’ inexhaustible supply of them.
For those of you who are unaware, Hope Solo is the goalie for the Seattle Reign Women’s Football Club. She is better known as the goalkeeper emeritus for the US Women’s National Soccer Team.
This past spring, Solo was arrested for domestic violence, alleged to have gotten into a scuffle at her sister’s home that resulted in the injuries to her sister and, more alarmingly, her 17-year-old nephew, the son of said sister. Solo’s trial is set for November 4.
But Solo was on her way to breaking the record for most shutouts by a goalie in international competition for the exalted national team.
“We are aware that Hope is handling a personal situation at the moment,” Neil Buethe, US Soccer director of communications told USA Today in an email.
“At the same time, she has an opportunity to set a significant record that speaks to her hard work and dedication over the years with the National Team. While considering all factors involved, we believe that we should recognize that in the proper way.”
In other words, can’t let some little inconvenience as beating a child get in the way of celebrating an upcoming milestone. Suspension, by either her club or national team? Muted celebration in respect for victims of family violence, BAH! There was even the obligatory white knighting from ESPNW.
But a funny thing happened on the way to another Pass for a Prominent Woman.
Brennan, among many others I’ve criticized before, spoke up. Not only that, she and others, in a nod to Confucianism, had the temerity to call the alleged acts by their proper name—domestic violence. The beginning of wisdom, indeed.
Brennan did not mince words in calling US Soccer to the carpet.
So what kind of message does this send to the millions of girls and women the U.S. national team has empowered and inspired over the past couple of decades? That alleged domestic violence is somehow different and less alarming when the alleged abuser is a woman?
Brennan has for decades been a dedicated advocate for women in sport, with views I share on the greater good Title IX has conferred as applied to sport. For her to breach the dike in the damn of silence that has been sports media on women’s violence, from Fred Lane to Elin Woods to Chamique Holdsclaw, in the interest of basic fairness and decency toward men and boys is a watershed moment. Likewise, the panelists on Around the Horn are also to be applauded by name: Kevin Blackistone, Bomani Jones, Jackie MacMullan, and JA Adande.
The breach is only a trickle at this point. Let’s hope it soon floods the valley.