U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe has never been one to shy away from politics or controversy.
The 33-year-old midfielder was one of the first prominent athletes to kneel in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
Megan Rapinoe vows to keep the conversation going by kneeling for the national anthem as a nod to Colin Kaepernick. pic.twitter.com/DcqkVS5d4V
— ESPN (@espn) September 5, 2016
Rapinoe, a lesbian who is in a relationship with WNBA star Sue Bird, said at the time, “Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties.”
For that matter, Bird has been equally vocal in politics lately, speaking out against the Trump administration.
She responded with an adamant “No.”
She did add that she doesn’t even expect an invite from the President.
— Alex Rozier (@AlexRozier8) September 13, 2018
In the wake of Rapinoe’s national anthem protests, U.S. Soccer announced that players were expected to “stand and honor our flag while the national anthem is played.”
The soccer star has abided by that edict, but she still plans to show her disdain for the Trump administration during the upcoming FIFA World Cup in France.
Rapinoe told Yahoo Sports she will abandon any signs of patriotism during the anthem.
“I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart,” she told Yahoo. “I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again.”
It’s still not abundantly clear what, exactly, the Trump administration has done to Rapinoe or gay people in general. In fact, it has been pro-LGBT on many fronts. But whatever slight she thinks President Donald Trump and his administration are responsible for, it has led to a comically large chip on her shoulder.
Rapinoe described herself as “a walking protest when it comes to the Trump administration,” which she believes doesn’t “value all Americans equally.”
“I feel like it’s kind of defiance in and of itself to just be who I am and wear the jersey, and represent it,” she said. “Because I’m as talented as I am, I get to be here, you don’t get to tell me if I can be here or not.
“So it’s kind of a good ‘F you’ to any sort of inequality or bad sentiments that the (Trump) administration might have towards people who don’t look exactly like him. Which, God help us if we all looked like him. Scary. Really scary. Ahh, disturbing.”
A “good ‘F you'”? Again, it’s not abundantly clear where Rapinoe’s malice originates from. Never mind that her outspokenness puts some of her teammates who may not agree with her views in an awkward position. You typically don’t want a team co-captain to be so polarizing.
Rapinoe also blasted what she called the “blanketed patriotism” of both U.S. Soccer and the NFL.
“Using this blanketed patriotism as a defense against what the protest actually is was pretty cowardly,” she said. “I think the NFL does it. I felt like the statement from U.S. Soccer, and then the rule they made without ever talking to me, that was the same as what the NFL was doing — just to not have the conversation, to try to just stop me from doing what I’m doing instead of at least having a conversation, and trying to figure out a [solution] that makes sense for everyone.
“We can actually have a conversation, instead of just telling me that it’s a privilege to pull on the jersey. Like, of course it’s a privilege for me to pull on the jersey. Part of that privilege is representing America, and representing America is representing all of America. So I feel like there was a major miss on that part, which is unfortunate.”
Rapinoe, perhaps unaware of how much worse it for gay people, minorities and poor people in other countries, took some pointed shots at America as well. She said the nation is a bastion of “atrocities … extreme poverty … homelessness … mass incarceration … discrimination against people of color, and police brutality.”
She floated only the slightest of possibilities that she would respect and honor the national anthem again.
“It would take a lot,” Rapinoe said. “It would take criminal justice reform. It would take the huge inequality gap that we have to be much better. It would take a lot of progress in LGBTQ rights. We just have such a disparity in this country in so many different ways, inequality in so many different ways.”
Wow. She just sounds like a pleasant human being.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.