By Ken Reed
The fact the heavily-favored United States’ women’s soccer team lost to underdog Sweden is a little embarrassing for a country that has dominated international soccer. But upsets happen. That’s one reason we love sport, the unpredictable nature of the competition.
But what’s really embarrassing is what happened after the USA-Sweden game. Hope Solo, the Americans’ star goalie, went on an ugly rant that was classless and boorish. It conjured up images of the “Ugly American” stereotype.
After the loss, Solo was quoted in part as angrily saying:
“I think we showed a lot of heart. I’m very proud of this team. And I also think we played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today.”
First of all, Solo’s comments, and the fallout that’s followed, have taken attention away from Sweden’s inspiring victory. The Swedes executed their game plan to perfection. Second, the United States women’s soccer team must now try to not only heal the pain of a shocking defeat but also deal with the huge negative PR hit that Solo caused. Solo’s poor sportsmanship was shameful and embarrassed herself, her teammates, the United States women’s soccer program and the country as a whole.
It’s the latest in a string of off-field incidents for Solo, including a domestic violence incident in which she was alleged to have beaten up her 17-year-old nephew and half-sister.
At best, Solo is clearly a sore loser. At worst, she is a terrible role model for the millions of young soccer players in this country, and a lousy representative for the United States on an international stage. She represents the exact opposite of good sportsmanship and made a mockery of the Olympic ideal, which is outlined on the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) website (Note: the bold letters and all-caps are the IOC’s):
OLYMPISM IS A PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE, EXALTING AND COMBINING IN A BALANCED WHOLE THE QUALITIES OF BODY, WILL AND MIND. BLENDING SPORT WITH CULTURE AND EDUCATION, OLYMPISM SEEKS TO CREATE A WAY OF LIFE BASED ON THE JOY FOUND IN EFFORT, THE EDUCATIONAL VALUE OF GOOD EXAMPLE AND RESPECT FOR UNIVERSAL FUNDAMENTAL ETHICAL PRINCIPLES.
The goal of the Olympic Movement is to contribute to building a peaceful and better world by educating youth through sport practiced without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.
I don’t see Hope Solo’s behavior fitting in anywhere in that statement.
While Solo has been a great athlete and an excellent contributor to U.S. women’s soccer on the field, it’s time for the team and Solo to part ways.
That would be one very positive outcome from the Americans’ crushing loss to Sweden.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
Sports Forum Podcast
Episode #26 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: How Can We Fix Youth Sports? – John O’Sullivan is Founder and CEO of Changing the Game Project and author of “Changing the Game: The Parents Guide to Raising Happy, High Performing Athletes and Giving Youth Sports Back to Our Kids.” We discuss overzealous adults in youth sports, the dangers of sport specialization, youth sports entrepreneurs and the profit-at-all-costs mindset, and the growing socio-economic gap in youth sports.
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Episode #25 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Physical Education Should Be a Critical Component of K-12 School Design – Michael Horn is co-founder of the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation.
Episode #24 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Mental Health and Athletes: Ending the Stigma – Nathan Braaten and Taylor Ricci are the founders of Dam Worth It, a non-profit created to end the stigma around mental health at colleges and universities through sport, storytelling, and community creation.
Episode #23 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Olympian Benita Fitzgerald Mosley Talks Title IX, Youth Sports and the Olympics.
Episode #22 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Rethinking Sports Fandom with Author Craig Calcaterra – We discuss Calcaterra’s new book “Rethinking Fandom: How to Beat the Sports-Industrial Complex at Its Own Game” and explore new ways to be a fan.
Episode #21 – League of Fans’ Sports Forum podcast: Chatting About a Broken Game With Baseball Writer Pedro Moura – Moura is a national baseball writer for Fox Sports. We discuss how and why the game of baseball is broken, what factors caused it, and offer a few thoughts on how to “fix” a great game.
Media"How We Can Save Sports" author Ken Reed appears on Fox & Friends to explain how there's "too much adult in youth sports."
Ken Reed appears on Mornings with Gail from KFKA Radio in Colorado to discuss bad parenting in youth athletics.
“Should College Athletes Be Paid?” Ken Reed on The Morning Show from Wisconsin Public Radio
Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
- League of Fans Sports Policy Director Ken Reed quoted in Washington Post column titled "What happened to P.E.? It’s losing ground in our push for academic improvement," by Jay Mathews
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
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