There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves... It doesn’t matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold-medal game in the Olympics three years ago. Now is what matters...well, most people considered that just incredibly bad form.
Now, though, Solo's career is in question. She was not permitted to attend the game in which the U.S. beat Norway 4-1 to win the bronze, a choice defended by Captain Kristine Lilly with the explanation "...her going public has affected the whole group ... having her with us would still be a distraction." It will be hard for Solo to reconcile with her team, and rumors are circulating that the players have shunned Solo, not allowing her to eat with them. And the question looms: will Hope Solo be allowed to compete for her country in the 2008 Olympics?
Yet, while we debate the severity of Solo's indiscretion, it must be acknowledged that her words have launched both her and her team - her whole sport, in fact - into a media spotlight that might not have accessible under any other circumstances. Few people in the States have been watching the early morning matches or talking about the team's performance in this major international competition. Now, thanks to some drama, the media is awash in stories about soccer and speculations about who will be joining the team for the Olympic games. This new-found (and perhaps ill-begotten) attention brings up the perennial question of what we want from our athletes. If we are looking for them to be physically fit character education guest speakers around the country's middle schools, then perhaps Solo has ruined her credibility. If we want them to be international contenders, then perhaps the unbeaten Solo should be given another chance. And if entertainment is what we want from our athletes - well, it doesn't get much better than a public show-down.
It seems to me that female athletes, in particular, are too often expected to fall into the first category; we want them to serve as pretty and accessible character role models who embody the qualities of 'sugar and spice and everything nice' along with dedication and athleticism. For Hope Solo, who has perhaps benefited from this in the past, this expectation of sweetness might now provide an additional challenge as she seeks to recover her reputation.