Hoping For Hope

By Mark Esposito, Weekend Guy

soloWith the pivotal World Cup game of the Americans versus Portugal just a day away, sports fans were greeted yesterday with sad news about one of America’s finest players. Olympian Hope Solo was arrested on domestic violence and assault charges at her sister’s home in Seattle. Solo who is a heralded goalie is much more than that. She’s a bona fide star in a sport sorely in need of one. While soccer enjoys a world-wide popularity, its reception in the U.S. has been … well … muted. Lacking the violent collisions of football (for the most part) and the non-stop  artistry of professional basketball, American males have routinely turned up their noses at what some call derisively “Communist kickball.” Add that to this year’s controversial move of leaving the greatest American male soccer star off the U.S. team and you have a sport that only an advancement to the final round of the World Cup playoffs could whet the public’s appetite the way American football does.

Solo earned her star power  following her brilliant but controversial Olympic performance. In 2005, she became the Americans starting goalie and recorded 7 shutout in 7 matches. In 2007 at the women’s World Cup, while facing the best he world had to offer, she  allowed just two goals in four games while recording 3 consecutive shutouts. No mean feat when you patrol a goal net about half the size of New Jersey. When she was benched in the semi-final game against Brazil for a reputed attitude problem, Brazil blew out the U.S. team 4-0. Solo was not the strong silent type castigating her coach and her replacement for the move and earning the ire of her more team-oriented teammates. Solo rebounded from that controversy and helped the U.S. win gold in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics solidifying her as a top — if not the top — goalie in the world. She also played professionally for several teams and is now starting for the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League.

Her personal life is far less brilliant than her playing career.  Raised in a single parent home, Hope was allegedly kidnapped along with her brother by her father at age seven. Solo was able to re-connect with her father later in life and developed a close bond that was cut short when he died unexpectedly of heart failure in 2007.  A hard partier, Solo has admitted appearing drunk on national T.V. and had one prior bizarre altercation involving the police and booze. In 2012, just hours before her wedding  to NFL player  Jerramy Stevens, police were called to a domestic disturbance finding several drunk party-goers and Solo injured. A stun gun was also recovered. A judge determined there was insufficient evidence to charge her fiance’ but the pattern was set.

Early yesterday morning, police were again called to a party that Hope Solo (now Stevens) attended. Thrown by her sister, booze apparently flowed Hope’s way and then things got out of hand. In a wild 911 call, a male called for help contending that Solo was intoxicated and  would not stop “hitting people” or leave the house. Arriving on the scene, police found an apparently drunken soccer star and injuries to her sister and her 17-year-old nephew. All allegedly at the hands of Solo. According to the investigative report,  Solo was the “primary aggressor and had instigated the assault.”  Not the typical behavior you’d expect from a 32-year-old wealthy sports icon.

Solo is being held without bond in a Seattle jail. Her story is sadly reminiscent of so many sports “heroes” fed a diet of adulation, fame, money, and booze. A talent like hers comes once in a generation and it’s a peculiar trait of the human condition that sometimes the recipient is overwhelmed by the embarrassment of riches. I’ve long contended that, for some, talent is a curse. It separates the holder from his fellows and despite the congratulations and “atta-boys,” there is always that undercurrent of resentment even envy. It’s not limited to just teammates or acquaintances either. Family can be just as envious or hurtful. Compounding that, it  takes an incredibly firm family foundation to withstand the pressure of fame and not to get caught up in the whirlwind of praise, cash, and false friends looking to fleece you. It’s doubly tough for female athletes who bear the burden of being stellar while looking sexy doing it. A peculiar requirement not placed on the fame of male athletes. Solo is hopefully learning those lessons now. She surely needs help. Maybe substance abuse, maybe emotional restorative counseling, but regardless of the vehicle, she needs to get on the wagon and move forward.

Here’s one hoping she does. We’ve seen enough sports train wrecks fueled by too much alcohol or drugs or just plain fame. Baseball, cycling, football and basketball all have their tragedies of athletes dying young or squandering their talent in some insatiable race to feel better about themselves. The irony is palpable — and very sad.

Source: CNN

~Mark Esposito, Weekend Contributor

22 thoughts on “Hoping For Hope”

  1. Maybe I’m jaded by reliving the OJ Simpson debacle through all the 20th anniversary specials, but I have a hard time sympathizing with any overpaid, over-worshipped, immature sports star behaving badly – in these cases, it seems, to the point of criminality. These folks are in the public eye with many adoring fans – like it or not, they have placed themselves in the position of role models. As such, they should have a better hold on their personal lives – it’s a small price to pay for their fame and fortune. My sympathies are better-placed elsewhere.

  2. So she gets nothing but worship for her actions. Is that because she’s a woman or because she’s a soccer player or because she’s attractive?

    You paint her as the victim here. Talk about a double standard.

    1. BernardB – depends who is commenting. Some have have condemned without trial, some are waiting for more info, some are sure because she is a sports figure and pretty, is is clearly innocent. 🙂

  3. Help! I lost a post down the Vortex of Doom. Can someone fish it out for me please?

  4. Mespo:

    “Here’s one hoping she does. We’ve seen enough sports train wrecks fueled by too much alcohol or drugs or just plain fame.” So true. I hope she snaps out of it.

    Kids pay the freight for the choices of their parents. Kids raised by single moms are statistically much more likely to get in trouble with the law, do drugs, alcohol, go to jail . . . I do not know if that was a contributing factor or not in this case, but it does sound like her troubles have been going on for years. In any case, she had a shaky family foundation to try to withstand the pressures of fame and fortune.

    I wish these young people could just stop for a moment, go join the Peace Corp or some other volunteer organization digging wells in Africa. Get some perspective on the insignificance of their problems, some gratitude for their opportunities, and stop squandering their lives on self absorption and destruction. Their lives would have more meaning if they would focus outward, on others, once in a while instead of a hedonistic race to the bottom. I keep thinking of Lindsey Lohan, who is pretty far gone.

  5. Annie

    Sad story, fame and fortune aren’t worth it if it screws up the rest of your Ife. Too many people say yes to these exceptionally talented folks, when they should’ve said no. She’s young, with the right right help and a desire to change, she can still make something positive out of herself and the conteibute to the society she lives in. Youth, beauty, talent, fame, fortune don’t mean a thing if that is the only thing that drives a person. Selfless pursuits are far more rewarding in the long run, I hope she gets to learn that lesson.
    =======================
    That goes for cultures too.

    In other words, a society does not ever die ‘from natural causes’, but always dies from suicide or murder — and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown.” – A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee

  6. ME wrote “A stun gun was also recovered”

    Professional athlete foreplay.

    “Her story is sadly reminiscent of so many sports ‘heroes'”

    A major part of the problem is that society considers them to be heroes, when in fact, they are talented athletes being paid obscene amounts of money to play a public sport. If they were heroes, we would hear, on a weekly basis, of an NFL / NBA / MLB player donating a million dollars to a children’s hospital burn unit. We never hear that, but we do infrequently hear of one shooting someone, mowing down pedestrians while drunk, or beating a spouse / lover / family.

  7. Sad story, fame and fortune aren’t worth it if it screws up the rest of your
    Ife. Too many people say yes to these exceptionally talented folks, when they should’ve said no. She’s young, with the right right help and a desire to change, she can still make something positive out of herself and the conteibute to the society she lives in. Youth, beauty, talent, fame, fortune don’t mean a thing if that is the only thing that drives a person. Selfless pursuits are far more rewarding in the long run, I hope she gets to learn that lesson.

    1. Obama, Hillary, Elizabeth Warren all are innocent regardless. Hope Solo is guilty regardless. What happened to our standard of proof?

  8. Very interesting saga Mark.

    Nick nailed a lot of the underlying dynamics that are surfacing in her outward behavior.

    Even Warsprite is envious.

  9. “Tough crowd I tell ya’, tough crowd. I don’t get no respect.”

    Rodney “mespo” Dangerfield

  10. An exceptionally poorly written article. “Not the typical behavior you’d expect from a 32-year-old wealthy sports icon”, followed by, “Her story is sadly reminiscent of so many sports ‘heroes’ fed a diet of adulation, fame, money, and booze”? Is the first meant to be ironic, or is the author just not paying attention?

    And what sports “hero” anyway? I didn’t even know there was a professional soccer league for men, much less for women. It seems this is the story of an alcoholic who happens to be an athlete in a relatively small interest (US) sport, and happens to be a woman. That she’s attractive and heterosexual has perhaps brought her some level of attention of which others might be more deserving (though that is hardly her fault).

    The fact the writer references, “communist kickball” about says it all. The last time I heard that term used was the mid-1980’s! I’m thrilled the writer is a soccer fan, but this sort of intramural story of a troubled young woman doesn’t deserve any special coverage or discussion. Hopefully, however, the woman can get the help she needs.

    1. It does appear to be a very dysfunctional family and drinking brings out the best in dysfunction. Her attorney is claiming she is more sinned against then sinner, so we shall have to see. It is early day, as the British say (think they play that “communist kickball” too).

  11. Solo was ‘kicked off’ the Olympic team once before because of behavior problems. Her problems were starting before she was a ‘star.’

  12. You have hit 2 solo homers this weekend, mespo. Many are myopic in giving the title of “genius” to merely those in the sciences. The title fits many categories, from music to sports, hell even to crime. Brian Wilson is a tortured musical genius. Bobby Fischer a tortured chess genius. Many athletic geniuses are also tortured, this young woman being one of many. A major component of what makes a person a genius is that they are DRIVEN. I think that drive is beyond their control. They often self medicate to try and mitigate that drive. It never turns out well. Now, all athletes who behave badly are not athletic geniuses. But, from the great profile provided here, I think Ms. Solo is a tortured genius. Sobriety will be her only chance @ normalcy.

  13. You have hit 2 solo homers this weekend, mespo. Many are myopic in giving the title of “genius” to merely those in the sciences. The title fits many categories, from music to sports, hell even to crime. Brian Wilson is a tortured musical genius. Bobby Fischer a tortured chess genius. Many athletic geniuses are also tortured, this young woman being one of many. A major component of what makes a person a genius is that they are DRIVEN. I think that drive is beyond their control. They often self medicate to try and mitigate that drive. It never turns out well. Now, all athletes who behave badly are not athletic geniuses. But, from the great profile provided here, I think Ms. Solo is a tortured genius.

  14. Sad story. I hope she can rebound and get her act together. Maybe a story of getting too much, too fast.

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