Hope Solo not benefiting from a double standard...yet

Hope Solo not benefiting from a double standard...yet

College Contributor Network

Back in 2012, when the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team was fresh off of a gold medal victory at the London Olympic Games, goalkeeper Hope Solo was America's darling.

So, when reports surfaced that Solo's fiancée, Jerramy Stevens -- who spent nine years in the NFL -- was arrested on charges of domestic violence against her on the eve of their wedding day in November 2012, people were shocked and outraged. But now, the tables have turned.

This summer, Solo was arrested in Kirkland, Wash. for assaulting her sister-in-law and her 17-year-old nephew. Solo was charged with two misdemeanor counts of fourth-degree domestic violence assault, to which she pleaded not guilty. She commented on the matter through a lone Facebook post, but has since remained silent on the issue.

Despite facing charges, Solo is still playing for her club team, the Seattle Reign, and the national team, which has caused some backlash among those who claim there is a double standard in professional sports regarding men and women involved in domestic violence.

Solo's situation draws quite a few comparisons to the recent high-profile case involving Ray Rice. Back in May, Rice pleaded not guilty to third-degree aggravated assault and entered a pre-trial intervention program in New Jersey, which allowed him to walk away with no jail time. Since Rice's issues occurred during the offseason though, the NFL didn't quite face the same predicament as the NWSL and USWNT.

But the situation of 49ers defensive tackle Ray McDonald does draw more direct comparisons to that of Solo. McDonald was arrested in Santa Clara, Calif. on suspicion of a domestic violence incident involving his fiancée, but has not been formally charged. McDonald has started all three games for San Francisco this season, and head coach Jim Harbaugh has stated that the team will "respect the legal process" and continue to let him play.

This move might come as a surprise considering that the Vikings and Cardinals both deactivated their star players (Adrian Peterson and Jonathan Dwyer, respectively) following their arrests for similar incidents.

So, why are McDonald and Solo being allowed to play while Peterson and Dwyer are suspended from all team activities, and Rice is suspended indefinitely from the league altogether?

The NFL, the NWSL and all of America's professional sports leagues need to establish more consistency in dealing with these problems or they will continue to frustrate their supporters to the point of boycotting.

At his 45-minute press conference in which he avoided answering just about every important question posed to him, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell insisted that the league would put together a council to make better decisions on dealing with player misconduct. For the NFL's sake and the sake of the victims, I hope this council can come up with a proper way to punish these players. Whether they suspend them upon getting arrested, upon being charged or upon being convicted, the council must set a standard and strictly adhere to it.

Until this happens, it's not fair to say Solo being allowed to play is the result of a double standard that favors women, and white women specifically, while African American NFL players are facing harsher punishments. Even within the NFL there seems to be no precedent, so the comparison just doesn't quite fit.

Should Solo be found guilty, she should be punished just the same as would a man in her position. It would be a step in the right direction for the leagues that for so long have represented the truly American values of teamwork, sportsmanship and excellence.

Aubrey Kragen is a senior at USC majoring in Communication. She was born in San Diego and is a fan of the Chargers, the Padres and the Spurs (because she needs at least one good team to root for). Follow her on Twitter: @aubreykragen