Does Hope Solo deserve the criticism?

Prim Siripipat talks with Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo about her book, "Solo: A Memoir of Hope."


During her book tour and the Olympics, Hope Solo has received criticism for being brash and outspoken. Would a male athlete be given the same scrutiny?

Solo's outspokenness self-serving

By Kate Fagan

It's certainly a relevant question: Do we as a society respond differently to the behavior of our female sports stars? There is all kinds of evidence (Danica Patrick, Lolo Jones, Anna Kournikova) that we do, indeed, have different expectations for female athletes and male athletes.

I just don't think Hope Solo's behavior falls directly into this category. Yes, she is brash and outspoken -- but about what? It seems she speaks out only when it serves the Hope Solo brand. About her own benching in the 2007 Women's World Cup, about her own struggles on "Dancing with the Stars" and, most recently, about how annoying she found Brandi Chastain's commentary during NBC's Olympic broadcast.

We like our male athletes brash and outspoken, but usually we like it best when they're brash and outspoken about the correct topics. I don't think we would condone a male team star at the Olympics -- say, the NBA's Kevin Durant -- posting tweets blasting the TV commentary for his games.

We have a certain expectation our stars will learn to rise above and to accept the criticism that comes with elevated status. I'd support Solo's brash and outspoken nature -- if it wasn't so self-serving.

Solo, female athletes covered differently

By Jane McManus

I think a male athlete might receive as much scrutiny, but the difference is there would be a larger volume of coverage about his sport, so it wouldn't be the only coverage he receives.

One thing about the sports coverage coming out of the Olympics was male athletes were covered more for their ability and sport, where women were covered more from a personal angle. That meant conflict, backstory and hair in some cases got more ink than technical performance.

Hope Solo is a much more nuanced human being than the she said-she said with Brandi Chastain demonstrated. But as Lolo Jones and Dawn Harper could tell you, conflict is a publicity magnet.

Chip on her shoulder is real, but Solo always hits back

By Mechelle Voepel

To me, this isn't a gender thing. If a male athlete had a history of criticizing past teammates and coaches, picking a fight with a broadcaster (who also happened to be legendary in the sport) and generally having an edgy persona, then he indeed would get some criticism back.

Hope Solo is a fantastic goalkeeper; on that there is zero debate. But the chip on her shoulder is real and omnipresent. She seems to always be spoiling for a battle, which is her genuine personality. It's likely part of what makes her so great at her job: Keepers thrive on facing confrontation.

It has been my experience that she, at times, is off-putting to the media because she can take even innocuous questions as "attacks" against her or her teammates. A little of Solo's attitude goes a long way.

"Brash" and "outspoken" are sometimes euphemisms for rude and self-absorbed. By the same token, life and sports would be boring if everyone were Sally and Sammy Sunshine. Solo will take some hits for how she comes across. But plenty of folks will love that Solo always "hits" back.

Solo invites criticism just like male counterparts

By Melissa Jacobs

No way is the criticism of Hope Solo due to her gender. In fact, Solo reminds me of an athlete whose career I have followed closely. Like Solo, he was wildly talented in his prime, arguably the best at his position for a few years. And like Solo, he has publicly called out teammates and coaches. He is famous for his emotions. He once wrote a book largely to defend his public persona. He has done reality television and over time has become known as an attention-seeker more than anything else. His name is Terrell Owens. He and Solo should hang out and air their grievances.

Owens is just one example of the multitude of male athletes who are criticized left and right when they engage in something the media and/or fans find distasteful or just plain stupid. Solo's fellow Olympian, Ryan Lochte, has been taken to task for his custom-made grills, trademarking "jeah!" and dissing his ex-girlfriend. Anyone in the public eye -- male, female, black, white, purple, canine, etc. -- is equally susceptible to criticism. And when Solo sells her memoir as seeing "a woman of uncompromising independence and hard-won perseverance navigate the petty backlash against her," the pot is going to be stirred. Isn't that the point?

Solo's inflammatory comments would get anyone in trouble

By Michelle Smith

Hope Solo has indeed been outspoken, but I believe a male athlete would receive the same scrutiny she has because of the nature of her comments through the years. Solo's tell-it-like-it-is moments have sometimes come at the expense of others, for example teammate Briana Scurry in 2007 and former teammate Brandi Chastain during the London Olympics.

She has been critical of others, and that is always good for a headline or two.

There are plenty of examples of such comments becoming a magnet for coverage in the world of men's mainstream sports. The personal public comments between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal made for plenty of media attention. Solo is getting attention that would come to anyone who made inflammatory public statements.

Solo backs her words with strong play

By Amanda Rykoff

We live in a world filled with double standards for women. In the business world, women in powerful roles are often described as "bossy," "pushy" or "bitchy," while men with the same qualities are doing their jobs. Criticism of Hope Solo for being brash and outspoken represents yet another way women -- even the most successful and accomplished in their chosen field -- continue to be subjected to the same double standard.

Male athletes often receive praise for being bold and outspoken and are rewarded for these characteristics. The NFL is filled with trash-talkers and showboaters. Ray Lewis, a perennial Pro Bowler featured in many national ads, is one of the most noted trash-talkers in football. Heck, even New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan has seemingly built his coaching career on bravado and brash statements. How's that Super Bowl prediction worked out so far, Rex?

Hope Solo has rubbed a lot of people the wrong way in her tumultuous -- but ultimately extremely successful -- career as the U.S. goalkeeper. She's no stranger to controversy and has never been shy about expressing her opinion. In fact, Solo jeopardized her spot on the national team with her outspoken comments in years past.

Her candor is one of the things that I like about Solo. She's not just a robot athlete who maintains the party line. Most important, Solo backs her talk with strong play. She's coming off a gold-medal-winning performance in the Olympics. That should be enough. And yet it never is.

Solo is stretching for attention

By Adena Andrews

If she were a man, Hope Solo wouldn't be marked as brash and outspoken because she isn't. Her mannerisms come off as more whiny than anything else. John McEnroe, Dennis Rodman and Rasheed Wallace are loud and abrasive. Hope Solo can't hold a flame to their acts.

The Tour de Hope of book signings, a Jimmy Fallon appearance, magazine covers and other forced media endeavors are starting to annoy me. If her desire is to draw attention away from her play on the field, then she has done a great job. Now when you think Hope Solo, you don't think gold medal, you think tweets and dismissal from the team.

That line of thinking has nothing to do with her being a woman but just being a snooze of a personality stretching for attention. Wake me when the news is actually about her on-field antics.

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