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 right–thinking 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.