Rapinoe: A World-Class Winner in a No-Win Situation

Has there ever been a more clutch sports performance?

Reggie Jackson hitting three home runs on three consecutive pitches in the World Series.

Babe Ruth famously, or infamously, calling his shot in the 1932 World Series?

Joe Namath guaranteeing a Jets win in Super Bowl III?

Muhammad Ali talking all kinds of mess and backing it up in the ring time and time again?

Try this on for size: Megan Rapinoe’s five goals in three matches – and six overall – to lead the U.S. Women’s National Team to its second consecutive Women’s World Cup title and fourth overall.

Photo by Jamie Smed [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Not impressed? How about doing it under the scrutiny and glare of the relentless 24-hour media cycle where molehills become mountains and interview snippets elicit a Twitterstorm of outrage, controversy, backlash and condemnation?

Her penalty kick goal in the 61st minute of Sunday’s finals gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead and set the stage for the 2-0 victory over the Netherlands and earned the Shasta County native the Golden Boot and Golden Ball as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Yet, none of the on-field accomplishments will stem the tide of resentment and disdain after her brash — and honest — comments from a June interview where she proclaimed, “I’m not going to the (expletive) White House” should the women’s team win the World Cup.

Conservatives blasted her, including many in her hometown – an oddly Red island in the Blue sea that is California.

Liberals championed her for speaking up against what she sees as inequality and injustice.

And lost in the din of talking heads, Twitter-tantrums and tribal lines is one of the greatest American sporting performances on a world stage.

The sad thing is Rapinoe is in a no-win situation. If she speaks her mind, she’s going to be hated by those who find her remarks not to their liking. If she stays silent, she betrays herself and those who’ve fought for equality in the LGBTQ+ community before her.

Sure, she could give us canned answers that neither inspire nor offend.

You know the ones: “We’re just taking this tournament one game at a time.” Or “We can’t overlook (insert today’s opponent).” Or “I’m just looking to give 100 percent to my team.”

Ali was the first to speak his mind concerning injustice and social issues, refusing induction into the U.S. Army. Tommie Smith and John Carlos weren’t far behind with their black-gloved salute at the Mexico City Olympics.

NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the anthem in 1996 as he believed the United States was an unjust tyranny and therefore in conflict with his Islamic beliefs.

And then Colin Kaepernick began kneeling in 2016 during the Star Spangled Banner to highlight his belief that black people and people of color were still being oppressed in America.

All were vilified speaking out. All showed courage to stand for their beliefs, no matter the consequence.

The polarization of the country today makes it near impossible to have a conversation about Rapinoe’s performance. Yes, she said what she said and like the political landscape heading into the 2020 election, you’re either for her or against her. There seems to be no middle ground.

And that might be our problem as a country going forward.

Sports are a distraction from reality. They provide brief respites of joy and heartache as the wins and losses roll in.

And maybe that’s how we ought to approach Rapinoe’s masterful performance during the World Cup. Enjoy the win, marvel at the skill and dedication, and celebrate the victory.

And then tomorrow, if you still feel the need, we can begin arguing again about who’s correct, who’s wrong, who’s left, who’s right.

But for now? U…S…A!!!

 

Aaron Williams is a freelance writer and editor living in Redding who co-founded www.shastacountysports.com. He loves telling stories and has a passion for high school sports.

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33 Responses

  1. Avatar Mimi Moseley says:

    Great article. Now could we please pay them more. #givethemaraise

  2. Avatar Linda Cooper says:

    Aaron Williams, well, I’m still celebrating, and focusing on the win! My husband, also a former coach, commented that Title IX is working.

  3. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Megan Rapinoe is a person of the future for women in sports and her LGBTQ+ community. She’s really quite calm and shy, but when asked about someone as off the mark as our current POTUS {sorry, can’t even say the name}, then she let’s forth her honest feelings. Those words are in the dictionary, heard on every street corner around the world, so relax and give her points for being who she is, a real and local person who has the chutzpah and skill to finally bring something positive to Shasta County. When is the parade ?! Embrace Megan !

  4. Avatar Candace C says:

    Aaron, what a wonderful surprise to see you here on ANC this morning. Rapinoe is no less than spectacular!

  5. Adrienne Jacoby Adrienne Jacoby says:

    I still want a t-shirt that says, “HOW DO YOU SPELL PATRIOT? , , , R-A-P-I-N-O-E!” . . . and wear it to Jack’s for dinner!
    And what Mimi said, AMEN!!

  6. Avatar Judith Salter says:

    Redding Rapinoe Proud #RRP

  7. Avatar Peggy Elwood says:

    Loved watching our Redding star in the World Cup….we should all be proud of her both for her tremendous skills and the courage to be her authentic self in any setting…

  8. Avatar Anita Brady says:

    One of the saddest things I have seen lately (and our lives are filled with some really sad images) was the FOX News Feed with all the so-called patriotic Americans posting “Go Netherlands”. WELL, suck on that haters!

    • Avatar Jeanne says:

      What else would you expect from people that get all their current events from Fox News and the DC twitter feed? And they call themselves patriotic. Congrats to Rapinoe, the entire team and Redding! So happy for all of you!

  9. Avatar Anita Brady says:

    Then the interview afterwords when she did call out to her brother– tear inducing.

  10. Avatar Barbara Sutton says:

    Regardless of anyone’s identity or preference being a good human being is what America should be about. Given a public platform through any kind of media does not give you the entitlement to disrespect each other including our President or the House or the Flag which gives you your rights to freedom. I do not care how she feels about the President, I don’t care about the politics nor the pay. I do care about the love of the sport for those who are athletically inclined and set a good, healthy example for the fans and future children of America to play the sport professionally. My perception is not about the politics, she is entitled….but “f” the White House was an immediate deal breaker to be a Rapinoe supporter. I don’t want my grandchildren to perpetuate the mentality or hate portrayed by this person and shame on her for even thinking (or not thinking) that her words were “okay”. Advice to Rapinoe-Take 3 breaths and think with each one what wants to come out of your mouth and what should come out of your mouth. Double standards of being famous and being a regular Joe, it is our responsibility to articulate our feelings in such a way that does not insinuate hate or prejudice. Will we remember the WIN or remember the team and their actions…….I think we all know the answer.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Well said, Barbara…in addition, the women’s team showed an incredible lack of sportsmanship starting with the over the top celebration when they beat a weak team by 13-0, and mocking the English team with the drinking tea nonsense.

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Barbara Sutton,

      Do you think her words are perhaps just a normal response to the fact that the man who occupies the most powerful political office in the world frequently resorts to name-calling and ridicule (which includes ridiculing the appearance and physical disabilities of people he doesn’t like), has bragged about sexually assaulting countless women, has a long history of blatant racism, has placed rabidly anti-gay, anti-woman religious fanatics in charge of the highest levels of government, has repeatedly incited violence, and is doing everything in his power to set the hard-won civil rights of gay people, women, etc. back 60 years?

      Personally I think a lot more needs to be said about this obvious threat to our country, which is a first ever situation – at least during my 80 years on the planet. This isn’t just about politics – it’s about human decency, and what decent people will not accept (good for her).

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Barbara Sutton,

      Do you think her words are perhaps just a normal response to the fact that the man who occupies the most powerful political office in the world frequently resorts to name-calling and ridicule (which includes ridiculing the appearance and physical disabilities of people he doesn’t like), has bragged about sexually assaulting countless women, has a long history of blatant racism, has placed rabidly anti-gay, anti-woman religious fanatics in charge of the highest levels of government, has repeatedly incited violence, and is doing everything in his power to set the hard-won civil rights of gay people, women, etc. back 60 years?

      Personally I think a lot more needs to be said about this obvious threat to our country, which is a first ever situation – at least during my 80 years on the planet. This isn’t just about politics – it’s about human decency, and what decent people will not accept (good for her).

    • Robert V Scheide Robert V Scheide says:

      You know Barbara, I would have agreed with you that we should respect the president, until about two years ago, after Trump had broken everything we consider to be normal for a president, particularly in regard to calling people names.

      Doug Cook, your phony outrage at athletes displaying emotion after scoring is unconvincing.

  11. Avatar Connie says:

    I am for her! I admire her for strength to be herself, stand up for herself, speak her beliefs and for the amazing and gifted athlete she is. She represented our town and we should all be proud of her.

  12. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    My daughter played soccer at Anderson High a few years before Rapinoe showed up at Foothill. Standard gear to take with us when we watched her was a tarp to cover the seat. Girl’s soccer was played during football season and by God all facilities and transportation went to football and their cheer leaders. While football players could use a locker room girl’s soccer rode home in parent’s cars sitting on a tarp in wet and muddy uniforms. Now comes a letter saying forget Rapinoe and move on to other arguments, written by a football coach. Attitudes in Shasta County haven’t changed.
    While Rapinoe was negotiating the Shasta County anti-women’s sports attitude I was watching my oldest granddaughters playing soccer in tiny, 12,000 population, York, Nebraska on a 17 field soccer complex.
    Megan is 34 and has a pulled hamstring, an injury that has ended many sports careers. She will probably retire from playing. I doubt she will move back to Shasta County with it’s anti-women attitude. Domestic violence runs amok in Shasta County, don’t post stats as most go unreported. There were a few times when women we knew, not as friends but workers at the gas station or store, who would show up at our house and asked if we could take care of their kids while they worked out problems at home. In Shasta County you can go to jail for beating your dog but it is okay to beat your wife.
    Anyone involved with softball knows there is a large Lesbian population in Shasta County and has been for years. They don’t hide and mingled with straight players all the time. Talking to them reveals a lot about their lifestyle though what they said might offend some. To us straight players watching how a few would go from man choice to women choice and back was hard to understand, I guess you would call it AC/DC.
    Maybe Bethel can heal Shasta County nothing else has.
    I would love to see Megan Rapinoe come to Phoenix where they would respect her.

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Bruce,

      It might also be called being bi-sexual, as a small percentage of gay people are.

      And since Bethel is a leading local source of anti-gay, anti-woman, Trump-supporting hatred, I can’t imagine that it would be interested in healing anything that needs to be healed.

  13. Avatar Candace C says:

    I for one will remember the win and the fact that Megan Rapinoe proudly uses her privilege on the world stage to stand up for Americans that are marginalized, discriminated against and hated. You want to stand? Stand. You don’t want to stand? Don’t stand. When it comes to remembering Megan and the USA Women’s win I’ll gladly hold on to that memory. The one thing I’d like to forget? Our current hater-in-chief President. Using my own personal litmus test for a “good human being” – Megan Rapinoe passes with flying colors.

  14. Avatar Blake Raker says:

    When one disrespects the American Flag, the Presidency and the symbol of the presidents office there is no ignoring the fact they are themselves guilty of what they accuse others of. Bigotry, hypocrisy and intolerance. The international fame may last a little longer than fifteen minutes, but it will fade just as they all do and in 100 years a president will be remembered and a fleeting gay soccer star will not. Blame the readers? Blame those who are appalled by disrespect? No blame the person who got in her own way as all hypocrites do. The “red island” is slowly being flooded by the “blue sea” moving from the sanctuary haven they allowed to push them North and they brought their faulty politics with them unfortunately.

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Blake Raker,

      Respect should be earned, so you might want to give some thought to HOW this president will be remembered.

      Among other things in a similar vein, he’ll be remembered as a demented sociopath (which entire national psychiatric associations felt compelled to warn us about before the election), as a compulsive liar, as an admitted serial sex criminal, as someone who deliberately inspired massive violence as a presidential candidate (and beyond), as a rabid racist, and as the first president who made it standard practice to take children away from their asylum-seeking parents and throw them into concentration camps amid horrible conditions (through which thousands of them have been lost, and will likely never see their families again).

      Don’t confuse respect for this president (or the lack thereof) with respect for our military members, our country, or anything else. One thing has nothing to do with the other.

    • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

      LOL, Blake. You really hate losing, don’t you?

    • Avatar Derral Campbell says:

      “.. there is no ignoring the fact they are themselves guilty.” Says you. Respect is earned, and respecting the moron in the White House just ain’t in the cards. BIG respect to Megan Rapinoe for using her moment with the microphone to tell it like it is; NOT calling him out when given the opportunity wouldn’t be consistent with the hero that she is. Just because he’s President* doesn’t entitle him to blind respect. President Obama endured 8 years of disrespect from Mitch McConnell and his radical extremist pals. President Obama had a Constitutionally-mandated duty to nominate a Supreme Court Justice denied by McConnell, who said the American people should decide who gets the pick. This after President Obama was elected by actual majorities, twice. (I think the people had decided.) So don’t go demanding respect for the punk in the White House when the Republicans seem incapable of even understanding what it means.

  15. Avatar Randy says:

    It is quite entertaining watching “Team Trump” struggling to come up with some kind of mud to throw on Rapinoe and her team when Trump has already destroyed all bounderies of respect and civility. Victim hood is being stretched to the max.

  16. Avatar Candace C says:

    Maybe some people could try using a can opener to open their minds and hearts and stop judging folks on their sexual identities but instead focus on their shared humanity. Parts is parts, we all bleed the same.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      Candace, Nobody cares that Megan is a lesbian…nobody. This country that she seems to have issues with is a country that gives gay people all the rights afforded to anyone else…including getting married. What exactly is she protesting against?

      • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

        Doug Cook,

        Did you somehow miss the fact that the current president has not only appointed raving anti-gay, anti-woman religious fanatics to head most federal agencies and to serve on federal courts, but is aiding red states in discriminating against gay people and women in a whole slew of ways?

        If Trump, his agency heads, his judges, and other fundamentalist politicians have their way, there won’t be anything left of gay rights except the right to breathe (maybe).

      • Avatar Candace C says:

        Doug Cook, your comment that nobody cares Megan is a lesbian is so ludicrous (and obviously meant to bait) that I’m surprised I’m bothering to answer you. For local examples read today’s article by R.V. about the anti-gay rhetoric used by people in the RS, KRCR comment sections (and a couple I personally saw by some troll on the ANC (or maybe Doni’s(?) FB page). However, in Shasta County it was the “taking the knee” thing that I figured would cause the most uproar, and I was right. As far as your asking what exactly is Megan protesting against? It’s no secret. It’s not an enigma. Read.

  17. Avatar Candace C says:

    Blake, Why is the notion that respecting the American flag includes respecting what it is supposed to stand for and therefore calling out discrimination when it rears it’s ugly head? The person disrespecting the office of the presidency is not Megan Rapinoe.

  18. Avatar Candace C says:

    *when it rears it’s ugly head…so hard to accept?

  19. Avatar Candace C says:

    Blake, Also, speaking out against an administration that you believe to be intolerant and bigoted does not mean that one is bigoted and intolerant. Quite the opposite. It’s called being an American and using your American
    right to protest. My father was in the Marines in WWII. He fought for people like Megan Rapinoe and you and myself to be able to exercise our freedoms. He did not fight for “ shut up and fall in line”. No hypocrisy in standing for what you believe. The hypocrisy lies in standing for our American flag while not honoring its ideals.

  20. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    My gosh, all of us should be so proud of this amazing athelete! Thank goodness this tempest in a teapot is about words instead of training and fighting pitpulls, prostitution, murder, drunk driving, wife beating, steroids, cheating or throwing a game or two. Physical harm to animals and women is a deal breaker for me.