What to Tell your Daughters about Abby Wambach

Recently retired soccer star Abby Wambach was arrested this morning for DUI. According to TMZ Sports, she was pulled over for running a red light, then failed both field sobriety and breathalizer tests.

While we’re just finding out about this, it’s not too early to think about how you break this news to your daughters. Wambach is, after all, a hero to many young girls. She is a symbol of women’s empowerment, teamwork, healthy nationalism, acceptance, and that girls don’t have to be as pretty as Hope Solo to make a difference. In the past week, she has donated her brain to concussion research and played golf with Caitlyn Jenner. She is probably very good at science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and would be a fine candidate to be the first man, errr, human, to go to Mars.

In choices of idols your daughters should have, Wambach seemed safer than any of the Jonas Brothers or Justin Bieber. She’s not completely damaged like Ke$sha or Lady Gaga. Ever since you read that article about The Little Mermaid being jam packed with phallic symbols, you’ve treaded lightly on the whole Disney princess thing. Be thankful your daughter doesn’t aspire to be Hillary Clinton, or Chelsea for that matter. The world does not need a liberal version of Alex P. Keaton incarnate. Republican Dads are relieved their daughters don’t want to be like Carlie Fiorina, driving Lucent and HP into the ground, then going paranoid nuts running for President. Aside: Meg Whitman is a far better choice if your daughter is drawn to the Future Business Leaders of America crowd.

One thought I’ve never had in almost 30 years of adulthood: “Wow, that guy never drinks, how did he get popped for DUI?” More often I’ve wondered how so many people don’t get caught. There’s like a half-life to the whole DUI thing too. It’s fairly common to know people who get nailed for it in college or their early 20s, and much less when you’re in your 30s. People generally grow up and get with the program, at least so far as their driving privileges go. I’ll be more surprised if this is a just a minor glitch in the public life of Abby Wambach than if it becomes part of a pattern bubbling to the surface.

One obvious thing to tell your daughters is that we don’t know these people. We just know what’s sold to us about them. We can look back and identify plenty of people who were marketted to us as saints who turned out to be much less. My four sports idols growing up were OJ Simpson, Marcus Allen, Charles Barkley, and Roger Clemens. Marcus’ trademark deer in headlights approach to sideline reporting disappointed me the least.

You might just tell your daughters the truth. We take a world that is often completely crappy and try to create something perfect, especially for the kids, so that they might see and expect a better world, then strive to make it that way. We hope that those who come to symbolize some element of that better world won’t disappoint us too badly, while we all know we’ve disappointed ourselves and others despite our best intentions.

Or you might get down to brass tacks with an adult lesson. Most adults like to get moderately intoxicated. Some like to get more than moderately intoxicated. People often make bad decisions and aren’t totally on their game when they are intoxicated. They need to plan ahead for how to get home safely. There are plenty of good options available, even when they forget to plan. Don’t put others in danger. And if by some chance you become a famous symbol of everything that’s good, don’t become the poster girl for DUI.

-Brad Hutchings

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P.S. I liked her better with Kurt Rambis’ mustache: