It turns out there is a similarity between Ray Rice’s domestic violence case and one involving women’s soccer star Hope Solo. But it’s not the one that has some sports commentators and bloggers questioning whether Solo is getting special treatment because U.S. Soccer has not benched, suspended or otherwise disciplined her while she awaits her fate on domestic violence charges.
Two years ago, Solo was allegedly assaulted by her then-fiancé, who was arrested but never charged. The man taken into custody after an altercation at a home in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland was Jerramy Stevens, a former tight end for the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Little has been said about the November 2012 case, which was eventually dropped because Solo and others who were present during the incident, including one of her brothers, would not cooperate with authorities. Instead, it is the incident that occurred in June of this year, in which Solo was arrested and charged with striking her 17-year-old nephew and her sister, that has led to suggestions of a double standard by some journalists and sports fans.
For nearly two weeks the National Football League was pilloried for badly mismanaging its response to domestic violence incidents involving its players, particularly that of Rice, the former Baltimore Ravens running back who was caught on tape knocking his then-fiancée now wife unconscious.
Rice has been cut by the Ravens and suspended indefinitely by the NFL, and other players have been deactivated after being accused of domestic violence. Adrian Peterson, a star running back with the Minnesota Vikings, also has been deactivated after being indicted on child abuse charges stemming from injuries he inflicted on his 4-year-old son from a while whipping him with a switch.
U.S. Soccer has allowed Solo to continue playing as a goalkeeper for the women’s national team, a decision that has been questioned by some sports journalists. USA Today’s Christine Brennan actually started in on U.S. Soccer a few weeks before the Rice case exploded with the release of a second video.
The criticism began to grow last week. The Post’s Cindy Boren wrote: ” Unlike some of the biggest NFL stars, Solo, who is their counterpart in women’s soccer and someone touted as a role model, quietly goes about her business of keeping soccer balls from going into the net. … Aren’t women’s soccer players just as much role models as male football players?
And Juliet Macur wrote in the New York Times:
One can argue the differences between an N.F.L. player punching his soon-to-be wife and a soccer star brawling with her family, but it is indisputable that both qualify as domestic violence.
The glaring contrast in Solo’s case is that while several football players recently accused of assaults have been removed from the field, she has been held up for praise by the national team. On Thursday she was even given the honor of wearing the captain’s armband in celebration of her setting the team’s career record for shutouts in its previous game.
Their critiques prompted feisty rebuttals from some non-sports writers.
Ta-Nehesi Coates, of The Atlantic, said Macur’s analysis is flawed. “Ray Rice did not so much ‘brawl with his family’ as he pummeled his fiancé into unconsciousness.” He further argued:
“There is a reason why we call it the “Violence Against Women Act” and not the “Brawling With Families Act.” That is because we recognize that violence against women is an insidious, and sometimes lethal, tradition that deserves a special place in our customs and laws.”
Slate’s Amanda Hess seemed incredulous that Boren would ask “…why aren’t more people talking about the fact that domestic violence isn’t simply an issue of men against women?” She responded:
Well, the perpetrators of domestic violence are overwhelmingly male, the victims are overwhelmingly female, and the violence that occurs between intimate partners represents a far more insidious form of abuse than that of a woman fighting with her extended family. But yes, I agree, advocating for male victims of domestic violence and discussing the role of female perpetrators is a worthy goal.
Hess also criticized Macur for failing to mention that Solo was attacked by an NFL player to whom she was engaged — and to whom she got married the day after his arrest.
“[K]inda sorta exactly like what happened with Ray and Janay Rice,” Hess wrote, referring to the fact that the Rices exchanged vows a month after the infamous beating in the hotel elevator.