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Artist: BANKS
Track: Beggin For Thread
Album: Goddess
    Life is a question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly built-up cells in which thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy yourself safe and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of colour in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once loved and that brings subtle memories with it, a line from a forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece of music that you had ceased to play… I tell you, that it is on things like these that our lives depend.

Pia Sundhage celebrates a goal against Iceland during the 1984 European Championship Qualification campaign played between 1982-1983.  The match ended a 5-0 win for Sweden, helping them on their way to qualification with six straight wins and goal difference of 26-1. 

when we scored against thorns last season ;)

Lori Lindsey being recognized before the Washington Spirit v. Sky Blue game on August 16, 2014.
If you use, please credit EriMacPhoto. The remainder of my photos can be found here
On Solo


Yesterday during the Seattle / Portland match, there were some particularly spicy chants. I’m not getting into that here; suffice it to say I think they sometimes lack creativity, but here we have adults, watching an adult game. There will be adult language, and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when it’s a given aspect of the men’s game. Hold onto that thought, as we will talk about double standards a little more below.

One chant was more than a little uncomfortable. I’m not calling any individuals out for chanting, and some friends and capos I respect and people I like chant things I don’t always join in on. This is not a condemnation of anyone in particular. But as a crowd, as a very visible group of supporters, as one of the coolest communities in all of sports, there’s a lot of sway we have, and with great power … yeah, we’ve all seen Spider-Man, we get the platitudes. 

The specific chant I take issue with was the one aimed at Hope Solo; no, not the delightfully British ‘dodgy keeper,’ which everyone (including the PDX-beloved LeBlanc) is subject to. Not “Hope-Less,” a mild play-on-words. The one where the fans gleefully chanted to the tune of She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain:

please don’t beat your family when you lose
please don’t beat your family when you lose

please don’t beat your family
please don’t beat your family
please don’t beat your family
please don’t beat your family when you lose

It’s not about the classiness factor, though we could have had more of it. I’ve stated before certain things like race, gender, sexuality, appearance, and personal history outside one’s control (whether the person in question was adopted, abused, etc) should be off-limits. Being accused of a crime does fall into a different category, but especially when it’s not been ruled on, especially when it involves a woman and violence, especially … ok, real quicklike, a bit of context, because I can’t really do this otherwise.

What’s known is Solo, who has a spotty family history and has been at times estranged from her family, was at a family gathering where there was an altercation. Both sides agree on the fact Solo had called her nephew names, and later a broom handle was swung at Solo’s head hard enough to break the broomstick. The divergence is, the nephew says Solo started a fight, following him and punching him while she insulted him; meanwhile Solo claims her nephew started beating her after she said he was ‘un-athletic,’ and she fought back defending herself.

In the meantime, sites like ESPN have completely ignored Solo setting soccer records and recording shutouts, but have gleefully reported on her court dates. That’s a dumb thing, and though it doesn’t have direct bearing on the chant at hand, it’s worth noting this also is a pervasive double standard. Male athletes who are actually convicted and/or admit to things far worse are not only often not benched (which Solo has been, by her club team, even before her hearing) but are allowed to play—sometimes after conviction—and are even actually then made the subjects of billion-dollar ad campaigns. Female athletes can set international records but still only get press when they get engaged, pregnant, or arrested. Lovely message to send, that.

So that’s the background. I don’t know what happened, and the court hasn’t ruled, but it’s become a big-ish story; and according to most ‘sports magazines,’ the only story. Add the Portland/Seattle rivalry, a loud and quickly organizable group of supporters, and the chant was born. Chants, by their nature, only require psychological ammo and catchiness, not context. But context really, really matters here.

Because no matter what actually happened, whether you want it to or not, that chant is doing two things:

1. it’s vilifying a woman defending herself from physical assault.

2. it’s making light of abuse.

As to #1, Solo happens to be particularly capable of defending herself, but we shouldn’t punish a woman who succeeds at getting a few licks in on someone who started a fight with her.

As to #2, if Solo did attack her younger nephew … well, that’s not funny.

I don’t for a moment think the fans [the capos did not start it, in fact they tried unsuccessfully to drown it out] who started this chant thought “Hey, we should really make light of abuse today!” They just wanted a catchy chant which got into Solo’s head. Did it did get in Solo’s head? Probably not enough to impact her game; she’s a world-class keeper with the game mentality to go with it, and she’s surely heard worse. But the chant definitely permeated the consciousness of those who heard it, and that’s the problem, because one way or another, it does make light of either a woman abusing her family member, or a woman being abused and fighting back.

It’s that underlying idea, not the swear words or the rowdiness or a healthy rivalry on a specifically-directed chant, that is problematic. It’s problematic in sports, it’s problematic everywhere else, and it enforces and makes light of the cycle of abuse, and double standards for woman, and rape culture. As Portlanders or Riverters or Thorns fans or women’s soccer fans or human beings, we should never want to be a part of saying that.

That is not a culture we want to pass on to the next generation of fan, which already includes my godkids. My 6 year old goddaughter (J) can’t see a pink headband without asking about Alex Morgan. She wears her Thorns shirt at least twice a week. She always asks the first names of all the opposing players because they’re easier to remember. She can name most of the National Team roster. And despite living with people who work really hard to help and love and validate her, she is really starting to internalize how people feel about women, because she’s bombarded by it nearly everywhere. She should not have to hear that chant, and God forbid she join in because it’s catchy.

And we do make some catchy, chantable chants. The supporters section allows me to share so many things I love about soccer. Passion! Goal celebrations! Beer! The game up close! Tactical analysis! Community! The best fans in the world! Player appreciation! Being so close you can hear the ball hit the net! Etc! I love that J is growing up with the idea sports are passionate, wonderful, intense things, that the men’s and women’s game are equally valid, and that she has the chance to grow up and play professionally. I don’t want her to have to fear doing so.

Sports should be passionate, wonderful, intense things. There should be no difference between the was the men’s and women’s games are contested or cheered. And sporting events should be loudly, rowdily, lustfully cheered, but in ways which don’t deny the humanity of all involved.

Just as the 22 players on the team J loves are individuals (as represented by the amazing art project given to each of them yesterday), so our rivals are individuals. Root against them? Hell yeah. Allow them to be chastised by the law or their team if it’s proven they do something bad to another person? Of course. Dehumanize them to better to allow us to attack them as people instead of merely root against them as players? No. Insinuate that women either being abused or beating others is some sort of joke? Hell no.

A soccer stadium should be a sanctuary. It should be a place where racism and sexism and abuse aren’t allowed, and it should not reinforce general society’s bullshit double standards on women. We’re dehumanized enough outside the stadium. Let soccer be a space free from that.

(via saveitlikesolo)