By Mark Smith
Let’s be honest. While women deserve the same praise, adulation, and money for playing sports, that’s not the world we live in. I mean that in the best way, but I don’t see the point in beating around the bush. It’s unfortunate, and even with actions such as Title IX, women’s sports aren’t treated as equal to men’s sports. UK women’s basketball doesn’t get the same treatment as the men’s team. All the professional sports that get major air time are men’s sports even though the MLB, NBA, and MLS (at least, though my lack of knowledge might be another piece of evidence) all have corollary women’s leagues. Even when it comes to international sports, women’s sports often don’t receive the same attention.
All of that brings me to this past weekend and the Women’s World Cup. When the men’s team plays, ESPN gives nonstop coverage to almost every game in the tournament, and even though the men’s team may never near a World Cup final in my lifetime, the US gets just as excited or more than when the women’s team, who almost always plays in the finals (it seems anyway), plays. The worst part, from a gender equality standpoint, is that the general watching of women’s sports usually devolves into analyzing which one is the hottest, and in regard to the women’s soccer team, that discussion immediately goes to Alex Morgan and Hope Solo.
I went through all of that to make sure that I initiate the following with the best of intentions, and I promise that it will come to a better conclusion than which is hotter, though we may need a scientific poll for that. Anyway, Chip Buck and I have started having these food debates which began with cake and pie, went to fries and tots, and might end up with one or both of us spilling each other’s blood. Tweep A and I (I won’t name the others involved in the discussion to protect their identity) began talking about who we thought was more beautiful, Hope Solo or Alex Morgan, and when Tweep A declared that a debate between the two would not be close, I opened the floor. Soon after, I received several confirmations that Alex Morgan was, indeed, the better looking of the two. When I noted my astonishment (for the record, I also favor Morgan, but Solo is an oh-so-close second), Tweep B argued, “super scientific answer: Morgan on pure looks, Solo if hopping in the sack is involved … Solo looks like she would be a tiger vs. the more vanilla Morgan.” Tweep C immediately interjected, “I'm just not ready to speculate like that. We only have tools to grade here, not skills.” Obviously, this is objectifying women and pretty much wholly inappropriate, but I’m sure that, on a very base level, 98% of you are cracking up. It's not meant to be serious, and it's only because none of us will even get the chance to meet these wonderful women, who we would immediately begin stumbling around in awe in their presence. Regardless, Tweep B (I think; I’ve lost track of who’s who) then mentioned, “this could evolve into one of the better scouts vs. stats arguments ever,” and after thinking about it, it just might.
Hope Solo is the prototypical veteran. Coming up on age 30 next week, she’s in her peak of beauty. There’s no projection left, and knowing what you have is crucially important. She’s your All-Star player in her prime, and those are highly valuable. Solo, however, is about to enter her decline, and she could age like Jennifer Connelley (well) or Rosanne Barr (not so much). If you’re looking at moving forward, do you take your chances that she can maintain her beauty going forward? When trying to decide, who do you choose to project forward? Do you choose the beauty queen who now judges competitions? Or do you choose the physiological scientist who investigates the aging of the human body and its effects on certain “assets”? You choose both. You choose the scout and the scientist, but in the end, I’d probably favor the scientist because he/she is going to give me hard evidence behind his/her assertions and we have quite a bit of information at our disposal. The judge has valuable information as she understands what goes into maintaining beauty and has valuable case study information, but she’s ultimately giving me an opinion. But both are important in the evaluation of my future marriage possibilities (trading/free-agent acquisition).
Alex Morgan, on the other hand, is the hot-shot prospect. At age 22, she’s beautiful, and many think she’s better looking than what’s currently on the roster. As Tweep A opined, “Alex Morgan is celebrity good looking. Hope Solo is women’s athletics good looking.” In other words, Morgan is a potential future Hall of Famer while Solo merely reaches the Hall of Very Good. The problem with Morgan is that she’s not battle-tested. She’s still in that youthful stage where she hasn’t faced adult stresses, and so we haven’t seen the potential aging lines, wrinkles, and potential effects of gravity from age or potential children. With Solo, we have more to go on, but Morgan is a lot of conjecture. So who do you choose now to project forward? Do you take the beauty queen or scientist? Again, you take both, but now, I’m sliding toward the beauty queen judge. She understands the pressures of being a beauty, and she understands what it takes to keep it up as one transitions. Also, as the beauty judge, she may have some inside info on Morgan and her thoughts on future children, how she handles stress, etc. The scientist will give me typical aging, however, and that’s always useful information. But Morgan could develop like Scarlett Johansson (well) or Lindsay Lohan (really not so much). She’s also younger, so I’d have more time with her (I’m guessing that sounded terrible).
If you’re still reading this, hopefully you realize the spirit this has been written in. Both of these are gorgeous women, but if you’re deciding on who you would rather have going forward, you have to make tough decisions. Do you want the All-Star beauty now that we have more information to go off of, or do you take the woman who some already think is better looking and has massive potential? Either requires some projection, but Solo's aging curve has been established, personality measured, maturity calculated, etc. It’s the same decision GMs have to make every day with baseball players, though not the marrying part. Do you need that beauty now for a wedding reception (playoffs)? Are you looking to build a family (franchise) around the beauty? Both could fit in either category, but when evaluating the best choice for you, I hope you’re using all of the available information because it’s you waking up in bed next to her (okay, that was terrible).
See. I could tie it to baseball. I wasn’t looking for a platform to say how stunningly gorgeous Alex Morgan is. No. Not at all.