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Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Price of Free Speech: Hope Solo Banished from the US Women's Team

Hope Solo used her first amendment right to criticize her coach, and indirectly her teammate, Briana Scurry, in a brief but emotional statement to a Canadian journalist after Thursday's loss to Brasil. But she violated an unwritten rule, or code, among athletes. Now Ms. Solo has now paid the ultimate price: Humiliation at the hands of her own teammates.

"Her U.S. World Cup teammates decided they did not want the goalie with them for either today’s third-place game with Norway or Saturday’s practice. The team banished Solo, who had started the first four games of the World Cup, because she reacted to being benched for Thursday’s 4-0 semifinal loss to Brazil. After the game she criticized not only the decision but the play of her replacement, veteran Briana Scurry.

'Her going public has affected the whole group. Having her with us is still a distraction,' U.S. captain Kristine Lilly said in explaining the decision."

Source: Kansas City Star, 29 September 2007.

Soccer is the ultimate team game. Goalkeepers have a very different role, but as we have seen in this case, Ms. Solo was deemed a detriment to the team concept. A few days ago, I posted her comments that caused this unfortunate departure. I felt she was brave to speak the truth, but that her commentary would have consequences. The original incident, which has already received significant coverage from the mainstream media, will only place more fuel on top of an already burning fire due to this new event.

When I was a young man, I visited an ancient relic in Rome called "La bocca della verita." "The mouth of truth." Legend stated that if you placed your hand in the mouth of this stone, and it wasn't swallowed up, you would always tell the truth for the rest of your days. But as I have learned along the road of life, sometimes when you tell the truth, nobody wants to hear you. Hope Solo put her hand in that stone in China. We are told that there is a time and a place for everything. No doubt in Hope's case, it would have been more prudent to say nothing. But as Americans, aren't we raised to voice our opinions, and not respond like mere robots? Yesterday, there was an apology on her MySpace page, but evidently, the damage was too severe for her fellow teammates.

Good luck to the team as they face Norway for the bronze medal in Shanghai.

1 comment:

Dan Leo said...

There is no free speech when you're on the team. Really, Solo's just someone who doesn't have the proper public speaking technique.

She doesn't know how to convey what you want to say while leaving yourself enough escape channels.

But Ryan was mistaken here as well. He was wrong in the selection. Now he is letting the player be the scapegoat for his actions and ceding the control to the players.

But that's the reaction of an insecure coach. A real coach must be the one who decides whom to play. The team doesn't have the authority. They're not in the final, and lost 4:0 in the semis. Their opinions mean little at this point.

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