Hope Solo has successfully complied with certain unannounced conditions and is back with the USWNT. Watching her implode over the last few years has been painful, and I really hope she has exorcized whatever demons she has. Even though her personal life has been erratic and violent, her playing is still world-class. She is an absolute joy to watch play.
It’s not fair, I know, to speculate about her problems. That’s not going to stop me, since I’m a soccer fan, and we speculate about inappropriate things. Hope needs to get help with her drinking. I would be shocked if a 30-day sobriety period weren’t part of the plan to get her back on the team. Her memoir is so frank when she discusses her mother’s addiction. She clearly understands the unique pain that comes along with loving someone who is stuck inside addiction, how you can respect their struggle and love their spirit while needing to distance yourself from the person to become whole yourself.
Actually, I wish US Soccer were more upfront about whatever conditions they put on Solo, especially if treatment for alcoholism or some other substance abuse condition was part of the plan. They would never, of course, especially with a woman soccer player: the pressure on these women to be perfect role models is out of control. US Soccer will never recognize that you’re not a ‘bad role model’ if you struggle with addiction or get help for addiction, but it is irresponsible to pretend like alcoholism and addiction don’t exist among professional athletes. Hell, even Hope dismisses criticism about her drinking by claiming that it’s part of athlete culture to work hard and play harder. Denial surrounding alcoholism and addiction does not limit itself to families. But when serious athletes are more likely than non-athletes to drink to excess, open conversations about drinking culture and alcohol abuse need to be a part of soccer culture. Even women’s soccer culture. Even when there are girls out there who look up to these players. Especially when there are girls out there who look up to these players.