When America's Sweetheart Hope Solo was arrested last June, it didn't seem like that big a story.
According to TMZ, Solo showed up at her sister's house drunk and agitated over having "missed a flight". What they may have had to do with it, if anything, remains unexplained.
Her 17 year old nephew told police that she began berating him, for some reason, about being too "fat and crazy" to be a professional athlete. Said nephew complained to his mom about Auntie Hope verbally abusing him whereupon Solo called him a "p*ssy" for running to mommy on her, and the nephew, reportedly, told Solo to "get your c*nt face out of my house".
He alleges that Solo then grabbed his hair and began punching him in the face. He says he managed to escape from her grasp and went to a back room from which he retrieved "an old gun" (his mother says it was a bb gun) which he pointed at the US first choice goalkeeper in an effort to frighten her into leaving.
Reportedly she did leave but then returned and started attacking her sister at which point the nephew "grabbed a broomstick" and began beating Solo with it.
The police were summoned and report that on arrival they found Solo "intoxicated and upset" and observed visible injuries on her sister and nephew.
Solo was arrested, booked under her married name - Hope Amelia Stevens - and held without bail until a hearing two days later when she was formally charged with two counts of domestic violence.
Additionally, the judge ordered her not to drink alcohol and to stay away from her relatives. She's currently scheduled to appear in court in November.
Now as I said, this story didn't get much attention at the time; dog-bites-man seldom does, and Hope Solo getting drunk and throwing down with family members once again is not a shock to anyone.
At about the same time, US Soccer was in the process of ginning up publicity over Solo's imminent record breaking 73rd national team clean sheet, and were understandably disinclined to deal with another Hope Solo drunken free-for-all.
Now, however, with the NFL imploding over a tidal wave of domestic violence accusations against players and outrage over the feeble response of the guy in charge, legitimate and embarrassing questions are being asked.
Is hitting family members only objectionable when the alleged perpetrator is a large, scary black football player? Or is physically assaulting people always wrong, even when it's done by an attractive young woman who is presented as a "role model" for young girls across the fruited plain?
A lot of observers were appalled to see hundreds of Ravens fans wearing Ray Rice jerseys in Baltimore last week, and like numbers of Vikings fans in Adrian Peterson jerseys. Despite the fact that neither of them have been convicted of anything, their league has suspended them - and the other players currently accused of DV - and discontinued sales of merchandise bearing their names.
But there was Hope Solo last night, on the field for the USA as girls in "Solo" shirts cheered her on and plenty more were available at the convenient USSF sales tables.
Considering the current social context, it seems more than passing strange.
I contacted USSF in regard to this apparent double standard and was referred to Sunil Gulati's statement from August at the US-Switzerland match in Cary, NC when he told USA Today's Christine Brennan:
"We looked at all the facts that we had in front of us, we talked to Hope, and are going to wait until the legal proceedings come to a conclusion before we take any action, if it's needed".
Which sounds eminently fair and reasonable, and is more or less the same approach taken by the NFL's Roger Goodell and which triggered widespread demands for his resignation.
Of course you can say that the video of Ray Rice punching his then-fiance was the tipping point, but anyone with an internet connection and two spare minutes can easily find photos of the injuries inflicted on Solo's sister and nephew as well as a recording of the 911 call.
In fairness, Solo has entered a not guilty plea and as of today has not been found guilty of anything.
However, neither has Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Greg Hardy or any of the other NFL players currently accused of committing domestic violence, but officials of those sports have determined that it's appropriate to remove them from the field and stop selling merchandise carrying their names until the process plays itself out.
And since Solo's professional league, the NWSL, is a wholly owned subsidiary of USSF - there is no commissioner per se but the CEO is Dan Flynn, the General Secretary of USSF and the league mailing address is Soccer House in Chicago - we can assume that Gulati's response is operative for her league as well.
For their part, Nike, which has "suspended" their contract with Peterson, saying that “Nike in no way condones...domestic violence of any kind..." has no comment in regard to their deal with Solo.
US Soccer's Neil Buethe told Brennan:
“We are aware that Hope is handling a personal situation at the moment. At the same time, she has an opportunity to set a significant record that speaks to her hard work and dedication over the years with the National Team. While considering all factors involved, we believe that we should recognize that in the proper way.”
So apparently Solo won't be treated like other athletes who stand accused of committing domestic violence because she has put in a lot of "hard work" over the years. Unlike, apparently, lazy slug-a-beds like Rice.
Or is it because she's female, or because she's not black or because USSF really doesn't take domestic violence all that seriously?