I’ve written numerous times about society’s skewed expectations about our professional athletes.
More to the point, I’ve tried to expose some of the boundless hypocrisy that the various sports leagues bring to this topic.
Now that it’s a big issue, the NFL has become the strict arbiter of good behavior.
A few years ago, a professional football player could be videotaped beating his fiancee unconscious and receive a two-game suspension.
Now, the consequences are more serious.
Those consequences didn’t increase in severity because the NFL was suddenly appalled at the appalling behavior of its players. It’s because the larger society finally had enough of pampered athletes abusing women and loudly protested.
Now, we see professional athletes making transparently self-serving commercials about preventing the very behavior that until recently their employers tacitly blessed.
Still, even small steps forward go in the right direction.
So what do you make of a high-profile professional athlete who beats a woman and the woman’s child, is carted off to jail and charged with several counts of domestic violence but suffers no sanctions from the athlete’s sports league and in fact goes on to compete on the sport’s most visible stage?
If you’re U.S. Soccer, you shrug your shoulders and welcome Hope Solo onto the national women’s team where she is allowed to lead her team to the World Cup title.
“Hope’s been fantastic and we’ve moved on,” said team coach Jill Ellis. “So none of (the report detailing her arrest) has resonated with us. I’m sure many of the other players aren’t aware of it. I know our team and we have each other’s backs. I think it was something a long time ago and we’ve put it to bed.”
Actually, it wasn’t that long ago. The incident — in which an allegedly drunk Solo is charged with bursting into her sister’s home and beating the sister and the sister’s teen son — happened in June 2014.
And I guess “put it to bed” means dutifully ignoring the fact that an accused domestic abuser is in the spotlight for our nation’s women’s soccer team. Nice message, folks.
Congratulations, U.S. Soccer. You may just have outdone the NFL in turning a tone-deaf ear to a problem that is all too real for all too many people.
Does it matter to the person being repeatedly punched that the aggressor is a woman instead of a man?
Does it matter to the responding police officer who is allegedly cursed and threatened that the arrestee is a member of the women’s soccer team that a year hence will bring home the gold?
No and no.
But apparently it matters to U.S. Soccer.
How else can we explain the fact that she suffered no penalty from her team?
In the push to win, all sorts of sins are swept under all sorts of rugs. With all the criminal activity we know about surrounding the LSU football team during coach Les Miles’ tenure, how much do you think was successfully hidden from the public’s prying eyes?
So looking the other way isn’t the exclusive domain of U.S. Soccer.
But what of the complicit silence of the commentators and announcers during the Women’s World Cup when broadcasts seemed more focused on cheering for the American team than with calling the matches?
Did the broadcasters agree to ignore the serious allegations against the American women’s highest profile player?
Can you just imagine a similar event playing out in similar fashion in the NFL? What if the Baltimore Ravens had declared Ray Rice’s punching of his fiancee “a long time ago” and gone on to allow him to play in the Super Bowl?
Critics would be right to demand better of the NFL.
It would deflect criticism as long as it could, then it would grudgingly punish a star player.
How can U.S. Soccer be even worse than that?
I don’t know. But if you ask me whether it is, I believe.
HoumaToday.com editorial page editor Michael Gorman can be reached at by email at mike.gorman@dailycomet.com.