Sigh. Hope Solo. Instead of talking about what a great goalie and representative of women’s sports she is, we’ve spent the majority of August talking about what a poor sport she is. She’s seriously been a public relations nightmare and I can only imagine that her management team is in full-on crisis management mode right now. Lately, she’s let her lack of sportsmanship, thoughtfulness and maturity be on display for the world to see. And watching it all play out from the comfort of my home has been a bit like driving past a bad car wreck…You don’t want to see it, but you just can’t look away. While taking in her epic meltdown, I’ve frequently put myself, a non-PR expert, in her PR team’s shoes. What would I tell Hope? How would I have tried to change things? Here’s some of what I’ve come up with:
August 12th Shortly After Team USA’s loss to Sweden in the Quarterfinals of the Olympics
Me: Oh, no. This one is going to really hurt. This was probably Hope’s last Olympics. Let me shoot her a text. “Hey, Hope. Tough loss. You’re still a champ! You ladies played a hell of a match. You’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. Hold your head high and good luck in the press conference. Remember to keep it classy! We’ll talk soon. #TeamSolo”
Post-Match Press Conference
Hope: “We played a creative game. We had many opportunities on goal. We showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down. I’m very proud of this team…We played a bunch of cowards. The best team did not win today. I strongly, firmly believe that.”
Me: What tha?!
Sends text message: “Yo, chill, Hope! You’re better than that. They played a great match. You have little kids watching you. You need to set a better example of what it means to be a sportswoman for them. It’s definitely time to issue an apology. Give me a few, I’ll type one up and send it to you.”
Hope: “Honestly, I just hate losing. You know how I am…I can’t help myself. Send the apology over and I’ll think about it.”
August 15th Text Messages
Me: “Hope, I really think you need to issue that apology I sent over…If not for U.S. Soccer, for your brand. It’ll show maturity and fortitude. You KNOW how hard we’ve been working to paint you in a more favorable light. Your image has really taken a hit over the past few years…the domestic violence, the DUI incident with the team van, the issue with you and Coach Ryan…Help a sista out!”
“Nah, B. I’m good.”
August 24th U.S. Soccer Calls Hope in for a Meeting
Me: Ok, I’m sure we’re not going to like what they have to say, but let’s keep our cool. You know we’ve got Fullscreen here doing the documentary.
Hope: I’m good. It can’t be that bad. I’m not too worried.
After the Meeting with U.S. Soccer
I hate everyone! How could they?! After all I’ve done for this country?!
Me: Hope, calm down. Let’s talk about this so we can decide how to move forward. It’s absolutely time to issue that apology I sent you. I can edit it. U.S. Soccer has already gone public with the suspension. Here’s their statement:
If you want me to issue the apology/statement, I will.
Hope: It’s fine. I’ll issue the statement myself.
Hope via Twitter:
“O.M.G., Hope! That is NOT the statement I sent you. That’s barely an apology! You sound indignant…not remorseful! What kind of legacy are you trying to leave, Hope?”
Hope: “I’m not really worried about my legacy right now. I’m just so over the bull.”
August 26th Text Messages
Me: “Let’s talk. You still have the rest of the NWSL season with the Reign ahead. We need to regroup and figure out what our next steps are.”
August 29th Text Messages
Me: “Nice win for the team this weekend. How did your talks with management go?”
Hope: “I don’t know what I’m going to do. It’s really hard for me to focus on this season.”
“Hope, this isn’t the time to give up or have a pity party. You have obligations to your teammates, fans and the organization. Times of adversity show your true character. Let’s show everyone how strong, resilient and determined you are and finish this season strong!”
August 30th Text Messages
Me: “Hope, Frontscreen just dropped a sneak peak from the Keeping Score documentary. It’s not looking good. Call me ASAP.”
Hope via Twitter:
“Hope! Lawd! What’s with you and the twitter fingers?! You just lost one gig, so now you quit the other?! How are WE supposed to get paid, Hope?! How Hope?!”
As you can see, I obviously wasn’t doing my job very well. Despite my excellent mix of encouragement and scolding, my emotional pleas and best laid plans…the terror that is Hope Solo would not be silenced. It’s a shame too because she really is one of the greatest goalies USA soccer has ever seen. She had the potential to be a true role model for kids and to establish herself as a brand to be reckoned with. Instead, she’s allowed herself be led by emotions and impulses and it has cost her dearly. I suppose all hope is not lost though. (You like what I did there?) There is time left to rehabilitate her image and to reemerge as a testament of growth and redemption. I truly believe that there is a better version of Hope Solo that we have yet to meet. And while her days as a professional soccer player may be numbered, her days at life aren’t. So let’s hope she chooses to use the remainder of her time to show us that better version of herself.