I have never been a sports person. Ever. But I have children, and children are not miniature copies of their parents, and that in turn means I’ve watched every game the U.S. women’s national team has played in the FIFA World Cup over the past month. I’ve even gotten to know a number of the players—and when that happened, I discovered Megan Rapinoe.
You know. This Megan Rapinoe.
And suddenly, I find myself very invested in the U.S. winning the World Cup. Why? Because Rapinoe said that if she wins the World Cup and Trump invites her to the White House, she’s not going. And after that happened, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez invited the U.S. women’s national women’s team to tour the U.S. House—and then Kamala Harris invited them to tour the Senate. So now they have to win, because if they don’t, Trump will call them all losers—because you know he will—and then Rapinoe won’t get the opportunity to spurn Trump’s promised White House invite.
Rapinoe has a girlfriend, by the way. She came out as gay in 2012, and is a passionate advocate of LGBT rights. But she’s even more kick-ass than that. Three days after NFL player Colin Kaepernick made headlines for kneeling during the national anthem, Rapinoe followed suit. When asked why she knelt, Rapinoe responded:
“It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated, and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t.”
Oh, but she went on: “Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties.” To explain further, she wrote this:
“I have chosen to kneel because I simply cannot stand for the kind of oppression this country is allowing against its own people. I have chosen to kneel because, in the words of Emma Lazarus, ‘Until we are all free, we are none of us free.'”
Anyone who quotes Emma Lazarus is fine by me. The U.S. Soccer Federation responded by amending its bylaws to require players to stand during the national anthem. So now, Rapinoe stands during the anthem. But she doesn’t sing.
Did I mention that Rapinoe is suing the U.S. Soccer Federation over gender pay discrimination? So yes, there’s also that.
The U.S. women’s national team has won every game it has played in the World Cup thus far. And yet, what has dogged them is unceasing press criticism of their audacity to celebrate their wins. They’ve been accused of being arrogant.
Have a look at this, from a British paper:
Ye gods. Does it never end? Celebrating your wins is not arrogance. Glorying in being good at something is not arrogance. Male soccer stars are expected to celebrate flamboyantly. (Or at least, so I’m told. Like I said, I’m not a sports person.) So why the double standard? (Yes, that’s a rhetorical question. I know the answer.)
Alex Morgan, by the way, responded to British coverage like the spread above by pretending to drink tea—with her pinky finger in the air—after each goal in yesterday’s game. It was harsh, but glorious. It felt aimed directly at press coverage like the above. Morgan owned that field, she celebrated on her terms, and she did not give a damn. Morgan, by the way, also plans to decline Trump’s invitation to the White House—and she doesn’t mince words.
I’m still not a sports person, but I desperately want the U.S. women’s national team to win the World Cup nonetheless. And there’s only one round left. Today, Netherlands will face off against Sweden, and on Sunday, Rapinoe, Morgan, and the rest of the team will play the winner for the championship. Or the cup. Whatever the correct term is.
All I can say is GO TEAM!