Hope Solo’s New Book Sparks Rampant Controversy: Villain or Victim?

Hope Solo
Hope Solo

Never one to shy away from publicly exposed quarrels or full on media bouts, Olympic gold medalist Hope Solo (and her newly published memoir) has, yet again, placed herself at the epicenter of a highly scrutinized controversy.

In similarly contentious fashion to her recent Twitter responses to former Team USA-er and current analyst Brandi Chastain (who, a few weeks ago, tweeted criticism of American defender Rachel Buehler’s performance after a USA victory at the Olympics… and felt the wrath of Hope Solo soon after), the American goalkeeper has, this time, encountered major resistance to claims she has made in her personal memoir about her time on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars.

While numerous particulars in the book have sparked discussion and intrigue among critics and fans, the passages detailing Solo’s former DWTS partner Maks Chmerkovskiy treating her in an unnecessarily rough and harsh manner (during their training together) have drawn most of the attention. She often assures us in the memoir that she was able to handle and withstand the alleged punishment doled out by her dance instructor and partner, but maintains that his actions were often over the top and very difficult to accept.

Unfortunately, someone forgot to fact check all this with Maks Chmerkovskiy, who is now denying the accusations and threatening to take legal action to resolve the issue. So… they now stand toe to toe with neither side looking more or less likely to back down. A classic he said, she said scenario, and one, as unknowing outsiders, that we’re about as likely to work out as the location of a giant fresh water creature in Loch Ness… but even so, we should still take away one thing:

Most (if not all) fans can see the virtues of an athlete that can speak out when he/she feels it’s genuinely important to do so; it’s usually a sign of courage and strength, two things we value immensely in our most-celebrated competitors. And while Hope Solo is often both of those things (strong and courageous), she seems to speak out in ways and at times that too easily invite criticism.

There’s the benching incident at the World Cup a few years ago (where she cried foul at having to ride the pine), then that previously mentioned Brandi Chastain Twitter dust up much more recently, and, finally, the current Solo: A Memoir of Hope debacle. All these incidents show Solo being her patented brash, outspoken self to be sure… but they also show her speaking out on issues that seem uncomfortably self-serving. It’s that second part that draws the collective ire of fans and unfortunate attention of the media, and it’s the second part that can quickly turn strong traits into unlikeable flaws.

She’s a fantastic player and has been an integral part of Team USA’s recent success, but it really seems like her aggressive nature gets the better of her far too often. So whether or not she’s in the right on this particular issue, it probably won’t be the last time we see a candid Solo comment get the American goalie in trouble.

Hamish Nieh, Finishers Forum

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