Thursday, November 15, 2012

You first, sports media

For the record, I don't hold female athletes up to any kind of gender-specific standard regarding role model suitability, general public presence, altruism, or good decision-making ability. In general, I don't understand why professional athletes are default role models. Because they are in the public eye? That seems to negate all the other reasons that might make them unsuitable: unhealthy focus on winning which leads to illegal behaviors; rigid schedules that mandate time away from family (for the family values folks); lack of real-life, everyday skills; a somewhat necessary solipsism required for success (especially in individual sports).
So my post yesterday was not at all about how disappointed I was in Hope Solo as a role model for all the children I don't have. I was mostly just sad for her. Sad for her positioning in this sociocultural moment in which a highly talented elite-level athlete is defending someone who seems to be a bad guy and then marrying him. Maybe they've both been screwed by societal structures and the sportocracy. Maybe that's what they have in common and what draws them to each other. I don't know.
But calling Hope Solo a "hot mess" and saying well "boys can be boys" so this girl can be a girl and should be treated like a boy doesn't quite work here. Let she who is without double standards cast the first criticism. But that person is not likely to come from sports media. So invoking an equal treatment rhetoric around Solo's foibles isn't quite fair when there is nowhere near equal treatment for women's sports and its stars in the sports media.

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