By Tim Baffoe-
(CBS) Full disclosure—I am severely apathetic to women’s sports. I’m all for girls and women participating in sports and having amateur and professional leagues, and I encourage players, coaches, and fans to engage in such as much as their hearts desire. But I cannot bring myself to enjoy the WNBA or the popular Olympic events or the like.
That said, Hope Solo just washed away a big chunk of the positive reputation those who work in women’s athletics have worked to achieve and the negative stereotypes they’ve worked to destroy. One of America’s most famous soccer players—female or otherwise—married completely awful person Jerramy Stevens this week, and in doing so also took a massive dump on a lot of things she supposedly represents.
I cannot be apathetic to that, sorry. Solo needs to embrace fully the repercussions of what she’s doing. Putting a two-month relationship with a detestable sack of crap ahead of an image she has built up and an image many women before her have struggled to build—own that.
Stevens is a giant piece of garbage. I’m all for rehabilitation and the belief that a person makes mistake that he or she can atone for and learn from, but that is not the case with this guy. I work with teens that come from tough life situations that have caused them to make some poor decisions, and I can forgive a lot of that as I work with them to become good adults, but Stevens is a grown pseudo-man who has never shown any desire to be a good guy. In fact, quite the opposite.
And now he’s husband to one of the world’s most recognizable female athletes.
Of course some people will defend Solo with the “Who are we to judge?” approach or the “Hey, that’s just Hope” angle. Surely Solo will tell you she’s happy and in love and that any criticism stems from a lack of understanding. Every person who has ever married someone with a sketchy reputation has said the same thing. And most of those people have ended up hearing “I told you so” a short time later. Solo’s situation will likely end in much the same way, and I will very much enjoy the inevitable crash and burn of her marriage if only because I enjoy seeing ignorant adults learn from their ignorance the hard way. (And this is very much ignorance on her part. She is actively choosing to ignore a track record of sliminess from her new husband, a guy who exhibits a pattern of behavior that is very much not likely to change.)
What I won’t enjoy, though, is that until we go about doing the redundant dissection of the black box of the marriage amid the smoldering remnants of love on the rocks since we already know the causes beforehand (massive pilot error/inebriation)—and maybe even after the postmortem—Solo will be treated as an ambassador for Girl Power.
I’m not the “athletes are role models” guy. Never in my adult life have I encouraged kids to emulate someone who plays pro sports, and never as a kid can I remember wanting to be like a famous athlete any more than I wanted to be rich and famous—a dream I’m lucky enough to have fulfilled. Role models start in the family and continue into an educational environment. They are not on TV.
If Hope Solo wasn’t married to Captain Date Rape I’d be uncomfortable having a kid choose her to look up to instead of a positive adult closer to home. But in the world we live in TV is often a bigger influence than home or school, and Solo has an influence over kids who admire her. In the publisher’s description of the “young readers” version of her memoir she’s even described as “a fearless female role model for the next generation, driven to succeed on her own terms.” At the very least she’s a public figure that is held to the standard of all public figures—practice what you preach.
What Hope Solo preaches in her memoir and endorsement deals is a positive perception of females, athletes or otherwise. Her independence and an attitude that is not always cordial combined with her physical beauty makes her an obvious spokesperson. She’s said “As long as I can continue to be me—and if that’s being a role model to female athletes, whether it’s to be a confident woman who is able to kind of speak to other women about that—I know that somehow, some way I’ll be involved and continue to be kind of a powerful woman.”
So I hope that in future ads, PSAs, and interviews Solo does that she makes a point to continue her apparent personal definition of a strong woman, and I guess that is one who marries a man who has spent much of his life treating women like a dog treats a person’s available leg. I hope in some avant-garde Nike commercial she is sure to tell her audience to ignore a man’s previous despicable transgressions and the likelihood that he won’t change, and instead fall into the old stereotype of “Ladies, you try to change those bad boys.”
In her next Gatorade commercial she should make it known that the night before your hasty weekday wedding—that special day that every little girl dreams of—you should have a fight that gets the police involved. Tell readers the next time she does an interview for a women’s magazine to pay no attention to Solo’s calling out of her partner on Dancing With The Stars for his physical treatment of her. Jerramy Stevens is so totally different. This is love.
But she cannot pretend she is in favor of intelligent, positive women and then do something that is completely neither intelligent nor positive. Oh, no. She needs to put this totally on herself. Especially after the marriage is over. (And it will be. Probably soon.)
Maybe I don’t care about how many shots Hope Solo blocks on the soccer field. What I’m not apathetic to, though, is a supposed champion for a positive image of females doing something not only so obviously stupid but also so obviously detrimental to that hard work of others to overcome misogyny in sports and life in general.
Tim Baffoe attended the University of Iowa and Governors State University and began blogging at The Score after winning the 2011 Pepsi Max Score Search. He enjoys writing things about stuff, but not so much stuff about things. When not writing for 670TheScore.com, Tim corrupts America’s youth as a high school English teacher and provides a great service to his South Side community delivering pizzas (please tip him and his colleagues well). You can follow Tim’s inappropriate brain droppings on Twitter @Ten_Foot_Midget , but please don’t follow him in real life. He grew up in Chicago’s Beverly To read more of Tim’s blogs click here.