When It Comes To Discussing Hope Solo, Some Hear Only What They Want To Hear
Who's not talking about Hope Solo?
Let me start by saying I've never considered domestic violence a single-gender issue. When I first wrote about it, I pointed out that Chamique Holdsclaw was arrested on a domestic violence-related charge. More recently, I used Anna Benson as an example of the serious nature of the crime, and I covered the Benson case as it unfolded.
However, in the past week, there's been a talking point about Hope Solo, that she isn't mentioned after her arrest for assaulting two family members over the summer. That's not exactly true. The Seattle Times reported it in June, which makes sense given that it's where her team is located. But there were national stories as well.
This week, stories appeared about Solo in the Washington Post and in The New York Times. In her column, Kate Fagan on espnW says U.S. Soccer needs to take Solo off the field as her case heads to trial. That would be the smart thing, but it hasn't yet been done.
However, there seems to be something underlying this. I've heard from a few men on Twitter insisting that the media only wants to point out male abusers despite evidence to the contrary, and who seem to call for a one-to-one discussion of Rice and Solo. Fagan saw that, too, in response to her initial column. It's become very important to a segment of the sports-watching population that she is given equal condemnation, almost as networks used to have to give equal time to different political viewpoints.
This isn't exclusively a race or gender issue, although mortality in domestic violence is overwhelming female, and recent Bureau of Justice statistics say that four of five victims of intimate partner violence are female. That doesn't mean that men are lesser victims, however. Assault and abuse are wrong regardless, and no one owns a monopoly on the damage.
After I wrote this, I saw a thoughtful piece on this dynamic from Jennifer Doyle. In it she notes that the same people talking about Solo were the ones who initially wanted Janay Rice's role given equal weight, until the video showed that she was not the aggressor. Interesting thought.
Will NFL fans be bothered enough about NFL's ongoing bungling that they don't watch the games? As fallout from the NFL's Ray Rice debacle continues to cascade, some of the first metrics are out. An NBC News/Marist poll said that 86 percent won't change their viewing habits at all. So, problem solved, right?
Well, let's examine this a little more.
Looking at the numbers, 11 percent of the NFL fans polled said they were less likely to watch professional football now (3 percent actually said they were more likely). That's 11 percent of fans who are already questioning their devotion to a league that appears to have at best overlooked or at worst covered up Rice's knockout punch to his then-girlfriend, now-wife. This could be the beginning of a significant trend, depending on what the NFL does now to shore up the damage.
The NFL is the only sports entertainment property and one of a few events such as the Oscars that people watch live and watch for a sustained amount of time. If a significant number of those people lose interest, then the NFL is no longer the must-sponsor sports property. Instead it's just one of many options.
If you already have fans dialing it back as the bad news continues, those numbers could easily get worse. Ratings for the NFL are still strong as sponsors re-evaluate their ties to a tarnished league, but if fans stay, so will advertisers. For now.
Here's another troubling thing. On Sunday, a source close to the Rice camp told Adam Schefter that Rice's appeal could be based on the idea that the NFL's longer suspension was from the edited interior elevator tape, and a longer videotape might offer something to exonerate him.
Which is ridiculous. Both tapes have the same ending -- the left hook. Floating another victim-blaming scenario shows that whoever leaked that story still doesn't get it.
Thankfully, the NFLPA's assistant executive director of external affairs George Atallah clarified Monday that the union is appealing Rice's indefinite suspension based on procedural grounds, not on "new" video evidence.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said he wants to get a new conduct policy in place by the Super Bowl. That's five months away. It's an excellent attempt to buy time, but does he really have that long?
You know what doesn't help? When Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is asked about whether there were women in conversations about Rice at the team level, and he makes a joke that he'll have to get rid of one of the guys who works for him to make room for a woman.
Or when Bisciotti starts talking about how real and meaningful penalties for domestic violence will mean "opportunistic" people come after players. May I suggest to Goodell that the Ravens should be first in line for the mandatory sexual violence training this month?