You’ve heard it plenty of times. Parents, teachers, coaches, employers, friends: “Life is not fair.” It’s usually offered up just after we have whined, “That’s not fair.” Go back and read the Bill of Rights, or any other great document, and tell me where it tells us life is not only suppose to be fair, but it is our God given right to a fair life.
We have before us a great example of this lesson in the names of Hope Solo and Colin Kaepernick. Both are well known athletes and both have been in the news plenty lately over what have been deemed as controversial decisions on their parts.
However, the reaction of people, their employers, and the media have been very different and has caused many to wonder if Hope Solo is being harshly punished because she is a female while Kaepernick is being let off the hook because he is a person of color. Neither is the case.
Hope Solo called the Swedish team that eliminated the U.S. women form the Olympics cowards because of the way they played in beating the favored World Cup champions. She was not given a chance to decompress, but rather offered up a raw and unfiltered take and the end result was she was given her walking papers by the head of the U.S.W.N.T. Suspended six months, contract terminated, and very likely done forever with the national team all because she exercised her freedom of speech.
Were her words harsh? Yes. Classless? Yes. Illegal? Absolutely not. Still, since the team is dependent on corporate sponsors who hate controversy, she was let go. It should also be noted, Hope Solo has also been the outspoken voice over the unequal pay and treatment of the women’s team compared to the men’s national squad.
Furthermore, she was on the negotiating team set to hammer out a new agreement with the U.S.W.N.T. Now, conspiracy people think her words were used to not just get rid of her influence on negotiations, but to also intimidate the rest of the women who have played at such a high level for a long time.
Then there is Colin Kaepernick, the one time sure thing, can’t miss quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers who has become a shadow of his once greatness to the point he has lost his starting job. It seems he feels too many people of color, not him, but those living in horrible situations, are unfairly targeted by cops and government. To raise awareness to this issue, Kaepernck is refusing to stand and salute the American flag during the playing of the national anthem.
Like Solo, his protest is also a form of free speech and it does not set well with many Americans, especially those who feel he is insulting the honor of law enforcement as well as those who have served our nation in the military. He claims he is only trying to raise awareness to a problem, but many, myself included, have come up with other reasons behind his actions.
Still, his employers have said he has a right to protest even though they must be fuming over it. Fans have burned Kaepernick’s jersey and threatened to boycott games if he remains on the team. It seems horrible play, being a distraction to the team, and insulting the majority of the nation are not cause to dump him. If only he used the word cowards, maybe then he’d be unemployed.
What if all this was reversed? What if Kaepernick called another team cowards after a tough loss? Do you think he would be fired? He didn’t get fired when he was caught on camera calling a player on another team the “N” word, why would he get canned for calling an entire team cowards?
He plays in a league where Josh Brown, a kicker for the New York Giants, gets a one game suspension despite 20 incidents of domestic abuse. Name calling means nothing if you are a male athlete.
However, imagine if Hope Solo refused to stand for the playing of the national anthem out of protest over unequal pay for her and her teammates? Do you really think she keeps her job on the national team? Not a chance.
To put in perspective the severity of Hope Solo’s punishment, former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner was only given six months for raping an unconscious coed and will have to serve just three months time due to prison over crowding. Sure, he will never swim for another college team again, but there is nothing preventing him from training and pursuing future Olympic games now that he has done his time. It doesn’t seem fair, does it?
But then, life is not fair. There is nothing that says athletes have to be punished the same in all sports for the same violations just as there is nothing that says they have to all be paid the same. Athletes are rewarded based on how much they entertain us, not educate us. Each athlete comes with a different balance sheet and when he or she falls too far into the red, they are all let go.
Hope Solo might miss as many as half a dozen meaningless soccer games during her suspension. During that time, her former bosses will evaluate the other talent they have who play goal keeper and determine whether or not to move on without her.
My guess is they will move on for another year to 18 months. Then, as time draws closer to qualifying for the defense of their World Cup Title, a final decision will be made as to whether or not to bring Hope back into the fold.
As for Colin Kaepernick, his protest does nothing positive. He is not doing anything that requires him to give up his money to support any movements. He is simply drawing attention to a problem we all pretty much know exists in some form or other. He can be cut by his team and he knows he will be paid 11 million dollars this season so there is no financial risk. He is no longer at the top of the NFL world so even if he decides to leave football to devote his energy to the racial problems he is outraged over, he sacrifices little because most football fans expect him to be cut soon.
So rather than complaining that life is not fair because of how two controversial athletes are being treated over exercising their first amendment rights, we might all be better served by thinking of another catchy phrase, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.”
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.