Solo suspended for comments, shows sexism

Grace Madlem

Commentary

Hope Solo’s suspension has outraged fans. The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) not only suspended her for six months, but also terminated her contract entirely with the Women’s National team. The federation suspended Solo after her tweets about the Swedish women’s team’s “poor sportsmanship.” The suspension itself is not concerning, but the reasoning behind it highlights a larger issue of sexism in sports.

Following the United States’ loss against Sweden, Solo said that the U.S. “lost to a bunch of cowards.” This comment is far from the most inflammatory that the professional sports world has seen. Because of the sexist notion that women must be soft spoken and likeable, Solo’s comments created much more of an uproar than a male athlete’s comments would have.

It’s true that Solo is far from a saint. She has been caught in multiple domestic abuse allegations. One specific case was against her half-sister and nephew in 2014, in which she was tried and acquitted. What’s important to note is that she was not suspended from the team in 2014, even though Solo’s actions were unacceptable. Had her contract been terminated in 2014, a just cause would exist. Since the team still wanted her, however, she received only a 30-day suspension and her contract remained intact. 

Solo was also suspended after her husband’s DUI in 2015. Even though she was with her husband in the vehicle, she was not the driver, and thus should not have been punished. The suspension was only a week after her domestic abuse allegations, and the incident involving the DUI occurred while Solo was participating in training camp for the federation. Because she was also drunk, the federation viewed her actions as unacceptable. Had this been a famous professional male athlete, and their wife drove under the influence, it’s quite likely that the repercussions wouldn’t have been so severe.

Time and time again, male athletes are excused of charges more serious than Solo’s unsportsmanlike tweets and comments. Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was given only a six-month suspension after getting a DUI, an objectively more serious offense than riding in the car with someone driving drunk. Former Florida State University and now Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, Jameis Winston, was accused of rape in 2012, and was allowed to continue playing throughout the season, winning the Heisman Trophy in 2013 (the charges were dropped in early 2013). Regardless of the validity of the allegations, Winston was still heavily protected against potential consequences, while Solo was seemingly unprotected when she made her comments.

Solo is not in any way free from blame; clearly, her domestic abuse cases carry validity. Had these allegations been the reason for her contract termination and suspension when they occurred a few years ago, her punishment would have been entirely valid. The reasoning behind her current contract termination and long term suspension shows a lack of equal standards for male and female athletes. p