WSN247 Blog – ‘The Word’ on Hope Solo

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WSN247 Blog: ‘The Word’ on Hope Solo. Inappropriate is a word!

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August 17, 2012

USWNT blogger, Amy Maestri discusses espnW’s recent episode of The Word about Hope Solo’s recently released book and how it may impact her public persona.

A certain video from espnW has been brought to my attention. I was told it was going to irritate me and provoke me to write something about the video. They were wrong because “irritate” isn’t quite a strong enough adjective. They also haven’t provoked me, as much as they have forced me into writing a response. My brain is physically incapable of viewing so much nonsense and not responding to it.

It came from a show segment by espnW called, The Word. The panel consisted of three women (aka, the peanut gallery) who seemed as if they wanted to out-do the others on attempting to prove the accuracy of bad stereotypes of female reporters. The segment began with Prim Siripipat who mentioned a comment from “U.S. Women’s National Team Coach, Pia Sundhagen” (which should be ‘Sundhage’). Everyone who was able to continue viewing after hearing her use the wrong name twice within the first 30 seconds of the show; I applaud your dedication. Sundhage was mentioned due to a statement she made about wanting Solo to wait until after the Olympics to release her (Solo’s) book. The panel proceeded to comment and agree with Sundhage’s comment, for a minute or so, and almost insinuated that Solo didn’t agree with Pia’s request. Hate to break it to you ladies, but Solo just brought this up on Piers Morgan’s show Tuesday night stating it was a mutual decision between everyone involved. Stop trying to make it sound like it was a bigger deal than it actually was. Stick to facts.

It’s bad enough having to listen to male reporters make comments which reek of double standards but now we have to listen to women do the same as well. Solo is catching flack for writing truthful statements in her book about her team, her opinions and her life. The espnW panel said Solo is a “narcissist” and “not a team player”. I personally do not find her to be a narcissist, but even if I did; why is it a major topic of discussion? If we started a discussion right now about every male athlete who is a narcissist; we would not be able to finish that conversation in my lifetime, and I’m still a young pup. Instead of talking about what this book could do for her career and her sport or about how her success story may be able to help inspire others, they decided to focus on why they just don’t like her. For a while, I wasn’t sure if I was watching a news outlet delivering a commentary show or if I was at the office standing around the water cooler listening to women gossip about the pretty new receptionist they all hate but have never engaged in conversation.

Shelley Smith, who was also on the espnW panel, had quite a bit to say about the whole situation and I took special interest in one specific statement she made. “It’s about what you do and how you react after that’s important in life.” This was her comment after hearing that Solo had a tough upbringing, while saying she doesn’t feel like that should be an excuse. If I’m not mistaken, Hope Solo is the prime example of a person overcoming where they came from and taking the right path. What she did and how she reacted is how she has become the best female goalkeeper in the world and a true role model (also take note that I said ‘goalkeeper’ not ‘goalie’. We’re not talking about hockey, ladies). Solo took her struggles and heartbreaks and turned them into fuel and determination to become the best at what she loves. For Shelley Smith to sit there and berate a woman who is currently inspiring millions to be themselves and chase after their dreams is asinine. At one point she also said, “I just want her to be quiet.” That statement alone should outrage any female sports fan; whether you are a fan of Solo’s or not. How dare she attempt to silence a strong minded woman in sports who has the courage to stay true to herself and also have the ability to back up anything she says in the media, with her superb play on the field. Shelley Smith, you are the one who needs to be quiet.

Smith had nothing but negative gossip to contribute in this espnW segment. Smith: “…she (Solo) was managing to sell her book to get her name out there even though it was negative comments and things most of us thought she shouldn’t have said.” Either Smith has not read the full book and is making assumptions or she is trying to make us believe this book is nothing but negative comments. To me, Smith sounds like a woman who is commenting on a book that she only read the cliff notes on. Smith’s other gem was when she mentioned Brandi Chastain’s commentary about Solo’s team and Solo’s teammates were “none of her (Solo’s) business.” When an announcer (Chastain) makes comments to millions of viewers about her (Solo’s) team…I’d say Solo has more of a right to make a comment than Smith does as it appears her knowledge is laced with gossip column material. For these women to say that Solo was just trying to make the Olympics about herself and that she’s lucky the team was able to stay focused, are some of the most wildly insane statements I have ever heard…and I watch Jersey Shore. Not even Snooki can top the insanity and stupidity of this.

Whether you agree with what Solo said about Chastain or not; it is just another example of a female getting berated for doing something a male could have done and no one would have blinked an eye. The media storm which erupted after Solo’s Tweets would have made you think she had killed someone. Ever notice how there isn’t much media scrutiny after another NFL player gets charged with a DUI?

The espnW segment is part of the long history which proves there is a double standard when it comes to women in sports; another double standard is how outside commitments affect an athlete. Sticking with the Hope Solo theme; let’s talk about her appearance on Dancing With The Stars and writing her book in 2011. Instantly the ignorant media critics began coming out of the woodwork to talk about how these extra-curricular actives meant that she would no longer be the best goalkeeper in the world. Which makes total sense, right? You expect athletes to be able to also have a life, right? Preposterous!

Female athletes get this type of “we no longer believe in your dedication” treatment after receiving the littlest of outside success. The media doesn’t seem to assume a male will no longer be a good athlete after they host Saturday Night Live, when they are seen partying with ‘young Hollywood’, or when they get their own ridiculous reality show that makes Teen Mom look like an Emmy winner. Why is it, that a female athlete can’t enjoy her success in the media without this air of doubt? Believe it or not, females can multitask. I know; your mind was just blown. After you’ve collected yourself from this earth shattering epiphany, come on back.

When male athletes are outspoken, they are praised as bold figures and leaders. When female athletes are outspoken, they are called “polarized” and “narcissistic”. In espnW’s The Word, they used those words quite often to describe Solo. Jemele Hill, the third panelist, also decided to join the party with this winner, “I think she is immensely talented but she is increasingly a difficult person to like.” With the first part of that sentence being a compliment, I of course went into cardiac arrest. After a full recovery from my heart attack (thank you, everyone, for the “get well soon” cards and stuffed teddy bears), I became confused; swearing I was listening to those office women talk about the pretty receptionist again. I watch segments from ESPN and espnW to find out information about sports and to hear analysts’ opinions on sports. I do not to watch to see the female Perez Hilton spill gossip and tell me if she thinks an athlete is a likeable person or not.

I want to congratulate ‘ESPN for WOMEN’ for giving us this group of women who appear to only read the backs of book covers before they begin gossiping and tearing down a fellow woman; a woman who is a good role model to millions; a woman who is gaining support for women’s soccer and women’s sports in general. A woman who is breaking barriers, as a female athlete, who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. But if more segments pop up like this one, I’m pretty sure there won’t be many female athletes who will want to follow in her footsteps. Not only was this segment damaging to the way in which people view female athletes, it was damaging in how people view female sports journalists. They were unprepared, ill-informed and did nothing but make assumptions and rumor-filled, catty comments.

I’m not sure how to end this blog, just as I was unsure on how to begin. I was completely blown away with the amount of double standard thinking and stupidity this espnW segment was able to pack into six minutes of time. I think I go may take an IQ test now. I want to see how much dumber I got by just watching it.

The video:

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Amy Maestri

Writer / actress / producer.

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