Hope Solo and Speaking Truth to Idiots

Based on my reading, U.S. Women’s ‘keeper Hope Solo’s post-game outburst draws only the rare condemnation and that’s mainly in the comments. It seems all rightthinking people understand that Solo got the shaft, that U.S. coach Greg Ryan is a second-order dolt (scroll down) and a first-order tool, and that a very petty cabal could very well exist within the U.S. team (do look at the post under the phrase “very petty cabal”; the image Who Ate All the Cupcakes chose to make the point is priceless). Talk of boycotting the team till Ryan is gone crops up here and there and, as a Portland, Oregon resident, I have an opportunity close at hand for expressing any outrage I feel in the form of an October 17 friendly between the U.S. and Mexico. Thoughts for a quick, punchy banner to display are welcome (though they’re also likely to go entirely unused).

I have to admit that, after listening to Solo’s comments, I didn’t expect things to get as ugly as they have; the words themselves seemed fair, if a little discourteous. But I’d go so far as calling myself appalled by what her teammates did in particular. Reading accounts that Solo was actually shunned by her teammates lops off at the knees any respect I had for several of these women (Kristine Lilly and Abby Wambach, if a couple lines of chatter can be believed). That cliques being formed and friends defended seems to have trumped a decent regard for objective reality dredges up all my ugly biases against all the narcs, toadies, and yes-persons that populate the planet and cheapen our collective lives. Let’s just say loyalty is a virtue qualified heavily by to whom or what one is loyal.

I fully expected the reaction from above, however, which starts with Ryan and works its way up to the pinnacle of company-person assholeism. This reaction follows the same logic Major League Soccer (MLS) applies when, say, coaches and players rip a referee for a call so bad it leaves the blind rolling in the aisles. Hell, the impulse behind all this shows up in everything from government to the biggest of Big Business: don’t bad-mouth the virtuous policies and pronouncements of The Company. The downside of pushing this line internally, and enforcing it on “the merry workers” by means of fines, doesn’t stop at simple cowardice; it amounts to taking a rasp to The Company’s credibility. Just ask the Bush administration about how doling out Happy Talk has helped them keep the confidence of the country.

As for the particulars of what Solo said, there’s just nothing there to fear but fear itself. As with MLS and the Fiesta del Dodgy Reffing, the working assumption seems to be that so long as Solo doesn’t point it out, no one will notice that Brianna Scurry is past it or that Ryan is a lousy coach. But we all saw it and a lot of people pointed it out well before Solo uttered a word: the cat is out of the bag and marking all over the rug.
In the end, I actually admire Solo for speaking up and speaking about reality. It Scurry’s feeling got hurt, that’s regrettable, but I don’t know how she talks about a hard reality without someone taking a hit. The upside to this entire episode comes with knowing that “all right-thinking” people know the score and that these are the people who buy tickets to Women’s National Team matches. The downside: I’m reading in a fair amount of the copy that Ryan might stick around for the Olympics, a sign that, if true, amounts to emperor acknowledging the fact he’s buck-naked. That’s their prerogative, I suppose, but if they think people want to watch them parade their portly asses around the town, I think they’re mistaken.


11 Responses

  1. Banner idea:

    “Kristine: Bitchy, catty and back-stabbing! What a role model!”

  2. Holy shit! I LOVE it!

  3. Actually, scratch that. You can’t do better than blowing up the “Who Ate All the Cupcakes” Mean Girls poster, with faces photoshopped in.

  4. I thought about a banner like “Worst teammates (coach, etc) you’ve never heard of” or “restore Hope” or something (equally…ahem…witty). Then I thought about just wearing a bag over my head.

    But it would confuse the kids (of whom it’s almost impossible to explain this whole idiocy to) and most likely the USSF/Nikistas would escort my $30/pop ticket right out of the stadium.

    So I’ll wear my el tricolores jersey, boo and hiss Ryan’s name, and hope someone more witty than me comes up with a chant that I can join.

    Then I have to figure out how to explain *that* to my children. :-/

  5. I’ve been mullng this over for days. My first response, being an ex-‘keeper, was I sure as hell wouldn’t want a netminder who didn’t think he/she could stop those shots on my team. To be a ‘keeper you have to believe, KNOW, you can stop a swerving Exocet missle hopped up on kickapoo joy juice with a dead bead on the upper 90. So what Solo said was only what every ‘keeper, living, dead or in a coma, believes, right down to their scabby knees – It ain’t getting past me. I think that even had the US won, Solo would still have felt the same way – “I could have done it better.” It was never a shot at Scurry.

    As for Ryan, he should be fired. Not for making the change: he’s the coach, he gets paid to make the decisions and putting Scurry in was no way out of line. Myopic perhaps, and not tactically correct in hindsight, but certainly not out of the realm of thought. No where he lost it, where he proved he was not a leader, is in the aftermath. Not once did he step up and truly take responsibility the bizzare change, not once did he own up to the mistakes he made during the run of play against Brazil or in the bracket and not once did he exhibit maturity and stand behind Solo in public while giving her a dressing down in private. Instead he cravenly redirected the spotlight by scapegoating Solo and hid behind the skirts of the other players to do so. He’s not only a bad tactician, he’s a coward as well.

    There’s a story about Barry Bonds and his days in Arizona State. Even at that early and tender age of life, Bonds was a well known horse’s ass, already laying the ground work for the lack of charm, tact and comradeship that would in the future fail to endear him to just about everybody outside his immediate family. The ASU coach called a team (minus Barry) meeting, the subject of which was Bonds and whether he should remain on the team. A vote was taken and apparently no one voted to keep him. The coach looked around and said something to the effect of “Boys, that’s not the answer we’re looking for.” He then called for revotes until the players took the hint and made it unanimous to keep Bonds.

    Now if a college coach can understand the importance of standing together and, perhaps more importantly, dealing with fissures internally, even with a human hand grenade like Barry Bonds, it can’t be beyond the pale to expect a professional in a situation like the one Ryan created for himself to handle it with tact and aplomb.

    This runs deeper than merely Solo vs. Ryan, it has all the makings of a real schisim between the Old Guard and the Young Turks in the player pool. An internal split that is going to make it damned near impossible for Ryan to work with the youngsters, just the ones the team is going to need almost immediately to compete. And now it’s one that Ryan himself has not only exploited for his own cover, but encouraged to grow.

  6. Banner idea: “Hey Ryan, Put Me In: I’m Undefeated Against Brazil, Too”

  7. I hope Ryan gets the axe. Also am sad Solo team mates let die by herself. SHAME on them. I lost a lot of respect for them

  8. I guess by now you have seen that Hope is groveling. Since her job is a pro soccer player, I guess she has to. I guess you saw that Scurry is now the starting keeper. Maybe you even saw that Hope did not even suit up, hoping to kiss and scrape her way into the good graces of that ‘petty cabal’ that is her team. Oh, yeah, she had to publicly apologize AGAIN., and single out Scurry and Ryan for her mea culpa. It sickens me, and I have lost all respect for that team. But not for Hope. This is when someone who really has guts and principles should have stood next to Hope and said that the Emporer isn’t wearing any clothes and looks ridiculous.

  9. […] an individual’s right to speak freely and frankly that I had a definite opinion on this one (Solo got screwed; no, nothing could change my opinion on that). In a related bit of news, I’m really happy to […]

  10. An unspoken part team sports is that you don’t publicly throw your teammates under the bus.
    Hope did, and she deserved to be shunned for it.
    You wanna piss and moan, you do it privately.


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