Hope Solo and False Analogies

By | January 23, 2015

There was a great deal of coverage of domestic violence and sports in 2014.

American football held most of the spotlight, with the likes of Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Jonathan Dwyer, Adrian Peterson and Ray McDonald earning suspensions. The public has begun to question the sport’s violent implications. While the discourse has focused on American football, one of soccer’s best, Hope Solo, is guilty of beating two relatives in June. Many have complained that her crime and U.S. Soccer have hid behind the National Football League (NFL)’s attention and not received the punishment or surveillance they demand.

The fallout of Solo’s situation has involved less scrutiny than that of the NFL players. Nike cut endorsement ties with all of the athletes, except Solo. While the football players are serving major suspensions, Solo only sat out for thirty days. In fact, after the news of her misconduct had surfaced, U.S. Soccer still allowed her to play wearing her yellow captain’s band and even honored her with a ceremony during her record-setting 73rd shutout.

US Soccer Federation spokesman Neil Buethe said in August: “We are aware that Hope is handling a personal situation at the moment. 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.’’

The New York Post’s Andrea Peyser described this reaction as “the crowning disgrace of the sports world”.

What those crying, “double standard!”, are guilty of is a false analogy; they fail to note critical differences between the two cases. While Ray Rice’s punch knocked his fiancé out cold, Solo only left her nephew with a bloody ear and her half-sister with a bruise. While the built Solo stands over the 5 foot 8 inch Rice at 5 foot 9, she cannot match his 212 pounds of muscle. Solo is considered big in her sport, and Rice is relatively small in his stature. Still, Rice’s one punch caused more damaged than Solo’s rampage did.

A man striking a woman is different than a woman striking a man. One continues a treacherous history of abuse, and the other stands as a rarity. As Slate’s Amanda Hess notes, “the perpetrators of domestic violence are overwhelmingly male”.

Similarly, a football player guilty of domestic violence is different than a soccer player guilty of the crime. The former adds to a disturbing trend in a fundamentally violent sport, while the other does not. Soccer certainly incites its fair share of riots and often violent discord, but does not deserve the same examination that football does. If you search “football domestic violence” on google, a slew of names and cases appear. If you type “soccer domestic violence”, you will only read about Hope Solo.

While Hope Solo must be held accountable for her drunken violence, and not be acquitted of blame, the public should avoid any grand conjectures about the sport of soccer’s role as a perpetuator of violence.  Save that for the NFL.


6 thoughts on “Hope Solo and False Analogies

  1. Matt

    The charges were dropped, so there’s nothing left to discuss. She’s innocent of all wrongdoing.

  2. Hector Morales Jr.

    This is a very interesting “hot” topic that is going on in all the sports, as Paige noted, not just soccer and football. I agree with Alex that the Rice and Solo cases are two different enough that they are hard to compare and contrast. Of course, they both do fall under the domestic violence umbrella but that is all they have in common. I think it would be more of a “fair” comparison to the Adrian Peterson case. In this case Peterson caused physical damage to his young son, similarly to Solo, and he was severely punished and missed the rest of the season without pay. Meanwhile Solo was quick to return to her club team in Seattle and to the national team. To me, through this comparison it is easier to see the double standard between men and women with respect to domestic violence than the Ray Rice case comparison . The degree of the damage in the Rice case was more severe than in the Solo case which can justify the more severe punishment. Yet, the Peterson and Solo cases were very similar and they received very different punishments.

  3. Alex

    Our arguments are not mutually exclusive. I am not advocating for Hope Solo, rather cooling some extreme comparisons. I am frustrated by her scenario and agree with your focus on sports other than football. I just do not see her and Ray Rice in an identically comprable light.

    One of my statistics (that an overarching majority of domestic violence cases are perpetrated by men) may have been false, but this confusion is at the root of why we disagree where we do.

  4. Brigid Larkin

    Moreover, it’s important to note that the reason we hear more about domestic violence cases instigated by men is because men, as you’ve noted, are often stronger and able to inflict more damage. However, that in no way makes it true that men instigate domestic violence more often than women. Domestic violence is a problem, regardless of how much damage is inflicted. That’s why this issue is causing such a stir, and that’s why we need to be careful about the use of a double standard.

  5. Brigid Larkin

    Perhaps it is true that American football has a better-known history of domestic violence than soccer, even an institutionalized one. However, giving Hope Solo a lesser punishment because she is female is not only making the problem worse, it’s also relying upon information that is patently false. Studies have shown that women instigate domestic violence just as often as men do. Implying otherwise, or saying that Hope Solo’s case is somehow better because she is a woman, perpetuates the idea that a woman hitting a man is less violent than a man hitting a woman. Violence is violence, plain and simple. In lessening Hope Solo’s punishment, Nike and the US Soccer Federation are doing a disservice to victims of domestic violence everywhere.

  6. Paige Newhouse

    I agree that in the US there are more known cases of domestic violence among football players than among soccer players. However, domestic violence is proving to be a trend among American sports, including baseball and basketball in addition to football. http://www.sbnation.com/mlb/2014/7/28/5936835/ray-rice-chuck-knoblauch-minnesota-twins-mlb-domestic-abuse-violence I think that we should examine all sports, including soccer and especially football, for domestic violence. People shouldn’t make any conjectures about soccer and violence based solely on Solo’s actions. But rather, people should be critical of the aggressive nature of collision and contact sports and its role in domestic violence.


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