Hope's Audacity

Article excerpt

Byline: Tina Brown

The Olympic antidote to gloom.

Boy, we sure need the Olympics this year. After seven months of campaign detumescence and unrelenting economic gloom, nothing feels more reviving than the official Olympic motto, Citius, Altius, Fortius--Faster, Higher, Stronger.

After all, the Olympics are one of a diminishing number of global battlefields on which America remains an unequivocal superpower. Which is why we need Michael Phelps to remain King of the Pool in 2012--or at least cede his chlorine-soaked crown to the self-effacing Ryan Lochte. Why we hunger to see LeBron James and the turbo-charged Dream Team pulverize China, Russia, and, especially, pesky Spain. And why we'll root for sprinter Lolo Jones to remain a virgin in the sweaty Sodom that is the Olympic Village.

Newsweek's cover subject, Hope Solo, the U.S. women's soccer team's demon goalkeeper, knows a thing or two about the louche ways of Olympians. As she recently revealed, after the U.S. women won gold in Beijing four years ago, Solo and her teammates spent a spirited night celebrating with, among others, actor Vince Vaughn. Solo is a tough, contrary survivor whose parents divorced when she was 6. Her dad was arrested for kidnapping her and her brother and wound up living in the woods outside Seattle, a homeless man suspected (and later cleared) of murder. Soccer was Hope's outlet and her salvation. She tells Andrew Romano that at school, at the age of 12, she wrote, "When I grow up, I want to be a professional soccer player." She adds: "I didn't care that there was no such thing as professional soccer at the time."

Hope Solo escaped stagnation (or worse) by sheer dint of will and a bagful of genetic advantages. Other individuals can, maybe, emulate the willpower if not the gene mix, but where's the antidote to the stagnation so many feel in America? If you look for it in our political confrontations, good luck. …