Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Hope Solo should be "shutout"

United States women’s soccer team goalkeeper Hope Solo has made headlines again for reasons other than the sport she dominates. She was arrested this weekend in Kirkland (Seattle), Wash. “and charged with domestic violence for allegedly punching her half-sister and 17-year-old nephew,” reports Jim Caple for ESPNW. “Solo pleaded not guilty Monday and was released on her own recognizance with a trial pending in August. She is not allowed to have contact with her half-sister or nephew, or drink alcohol, before then.”

According to the police report, Solo arrived at her half-sister’s house late Friday night upset that her husband, former Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Jerramy Stevens, had refused to take her to the airport for a flight. Under the influence of a considerable amount of wine, Solo became more upset when she thought her nephew spoke ill of her. Their aggressive conversation escalated, and after the nephew accused Solo’s family and father of being the crazy ones, she allegedly charged and punched him. The report goes on to describe Solo punching her half-sister and nephew several times, which the nephew tried to stop by breaking a broom over Solo’s head.

Solo is a beast on and off the field—imagine being punched by one of the best goalies in the world—because the impact of the broom being broken over her head did not stop her. When the police arrived, an officer reported that he saw no injuries to Solo and that she refused to allow him to inspect her head for injuries.

So what should be done with Solo? Caple argues that “if convicted…Solo should be dropped from the U.S. team. As great a player as she is, a person guilty of domestic violence should not be allowed to represent our country so prominently on the world stage.”

As a soccer player and Hope Solo fan, I wish I could disagree with Caple. But he’s right. It would be one thing if this was Solo’s first controversy in the national spotlight, but her comments after getting benched in the 2007 Women’s World Cup and a Twitter rant directed at former U.S. women’s national team defender and midfielder Brandi Chastain during the 2012 Olympics make it difficult for me to advocate for her to remain on the national team. All I can say is that without Solo in our box, the U.S. women’s national team is going to have a hell of a battle to fight to get anywhere in the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

That is not reason enough to keep Solo on the women’s national team, at least it shouldn’t be. Too often, when male athletes are arrested, “they remain with the team and are cheered as long as they perform well,” Caple points out. Of course, these are not national athletes like Solo, but this applies to her, too, in the case of her pro team, Seattle Reign FC. If convicted, Solo should be removed from the U.S. women’s national team, but allowed to continue playing for her pro team, following whatever punishment she receives from the government and the new eight-team National Women’s Soccer League (founded in 2012) she plays in, should the league choose to take action.

A lack of punishment from the pro league would not be surprising. It happens with male athletes all the time, so why would we expect it to be any different for women? Oh that’s right—because male athletes receive preferential treatment over just about everyone, including female athletes.

Take Solo’s husband, for example: Stevens assaulted another student in 1998 as a senior in high school and still received a scholarship to play at the University of Washington, where he was arrested in 2000 in the investigation of an alleged rape, but never charged. (Several years later, his attorney made an out-of-court civil settlement with the accuser.) Stevens drove his truck into a retirement home in 2001, but stayed on the team and was drafted by the NFL, playing 202 games from 2002 to 2010 despite two DUIs. In 2012, Stevens was arrested once again on suspicion of domestic violence against Solo during a party at a residence. The chargers eventually were dropped because of insufficient evidence, which, naturally, Solo and Stevens celebrated the next day by tying the knot.

Endless arguments could be made about which athlete in this couple has played a more important role in American sports—Stevens was a high-caliber player in the nation’s most popular sport, while Solo is one of the most exceptional goalies in history in the world’s most popular sport. Either way, neither of their crimes should be excused. Obviously Stevens’ punishments (or lack thereof) are in the past, but just because Solo is a female—and an extraordinary one at that—does not mean she should be let down easy, if convicted.

I recognize the need of Solo by her women’s national teammates—not to mention the need of her country—in the upcoming Women’s World Cup, and will be deeply saddened if this crime marks the end of her national soccer career. But I also note the need of running back Ray Rice by the Baltimore Ravens (NFL), Greg Hardy by the Carolina Panthers (NFL), DeShawn Stevenson by the Atlanta Hawks (NBA), Plaxico Burress by the New York Giants (NFL), Chad “Ochocinco” Johnson by the Miami Dolphins (NFL), Julio Machado by the Milwaukee Brewers (MLB), Charles E. Smith by the Boston Celtics (NBA), and Mike Danton by the St. Louis Blues (NHL), to name a few. All of these male athletes continued playing for the team they were on when convicted, left to play for another team, and/or served a pacified version of their original sentence. Regardless of the importance of these athletes to their respective teams, each should have been tried and served their sentence as an average person would have. It’s not the celebrity that blinds us from justice, but the sport—God forbid your favorite football team, though a Super Bowl hopeful last season, comes in last place this season because a star player commits a crime and is convicted as the criminal he is and not the superhuman he magnifies on the field.

Caple sums up the argument perfectly: “This attitude needs to change. Although people deserve second chances, they do not deserve cheers and adoration because of what they do on the field when they make no amends for nor improve their behavior off the field.”

Solo has the right to tell her side of the story, and then it’s up to the court to decide her legal fate. But if she is found guilty, Solo should be punished as an athlete and removed from the women’s national team, in as strict an action as convicted athletes before her should have been.

Here’s hoping Hope Solo is found not guilty (and that she finally learns to behave herself)!


Monday, June 23, 2014

Washington Redskins trademark revoked

"In what might be the most significant pressure put on Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder to change his team's name, the United State Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the team's trademarks on the basis that it is 'disparaging to Native Americans,'" writes Darren Rovell for ESPN.  The Redskins have appealed, which puts the cancellation of the trademark on hold while the matter makes its way through the courts in a process that could take years.

Though the Redskins seem confident in their appeal, if the decision stands, the team would be able to continue to use the logo (which remains a trademark legally held by the team and is unaffected at this time) and name, "but it would lose a significant portion of its ability to protect the financial interests connected to it."  The five Native Americans, representing four tribes, who brought this case against the NFL in 2006 really hit the nail on the head with that one: as Simon Moya-Smith writes for CNN, "If the team won't change the name voluntarily then it will be changed by force."  The intent is to force the team to change its name and logo by making the lack of protection of the current name and logo hurt their pocketbooks.  As Moya-Smith notes, "When we [Native Americans] interrupt sports...we always get a response."

While not all Native Americans are represented in this case, if only a few are against the whole Redskins concept, it should be changed.  Native Americans take comparable offense to a professional football team called the Redskins as African Americans would take to a team called the Blackskins.  When asked what she would say to Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, Blackhorse, the plaintiff in the previous case against the use of a "racial slur" as Washington's team name, she replied, "I'd ask him, 'Would you dare call me a redskin, right here, to my face?'  And I suspect that, no, he would not do that."  The issue of race and ethnicity are touchy subjects as it is, not to mention the regrettable history of mistreatment by whites toward Native Americans.  Take a look at this interactive time-lapse map, which shows how the United States took more than 1.5 billion acres from Native Americans.  Whatever happened to sharing is caring?

Since we're being careful not to step on anyone's toes, should the Redskins end up changing their name, they must pay mind to what the new name will be.  Social media users have jocularly suggested becoming the Potatoes, in order to keep the name Redskins.  But in all seriousness, it might be taken with some offense when the Native Americans are swapped out for potatoes, even if they were the ones who wanted the degrading representation of Native Americans abolished in the NFL.

That being said, no one on this earth is ever going to get away without offending someone.  Arguments could be made for why the New York Yankees should no longer have rights to that name.  I can hear the castigating cries now: "that's degrading toward the south," "war terms are not appropriate for sports," "that's disrespectful," etc.  (If it were up to me, the Yankees would be dismembered--Go Red Sox!)

It is fitting for the NFL to do its best to appease the Native Americans in this case, but that does not mean we should say goodbye to the Cleveland Indians or the Atlanta Braves.  Proud references to Native Americans, these team names and logos need not be changed until those depicted make a case for such action.  While not offensive, I'll admit that naming a team the Indians is a bit odd--think of naming a team the Asians or the Hispanics.

Will the decision to no longer protect the Washington Redskins' trademark be overturned again as it was in 2003, or will the Redskins change or deal with the financial impacts?  Don't hold your breath--this is a decision we'll be watching and waiting for quite a while.


Saturday, June 21, 2014

National Wear Your Lilly Day

Happy first day of summer and, more importantly, National Wear Your Lilly Day!  I hope everyone spent the longest day of the year in beautiful prints a bright colors.  I worked all day at the local Lilly store.  Here are some pictures of my fellow employees and family:

Left to right: Camden Dress in In the Beginning, Angela Dress in Pink Lemonade, Little Delia Dress in She She Shells
Left to right: Daddy, Momma J, Cousin Molly

This is only the beginning of what I hope to be a wonderful summer in Lilly!