Women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe has revealed she will probably never sing or honor the national anthem again.
Rapinoe proudly sang ‘Born in the USA’ into a microphone after scoring a decisive point in a 3-0 win vs. Colombia during a FIFA World Cup qualifying match in 2011.
Over the span of eight years, however, the outspoken athlete, part of the beloved 2015 women’s World Cup-winning team, has gone from patriotic national champion to US cultural critic, becoming as famous for her activism on and off the field as she is for her electrifying play and once-plentiful charismatic displays of love for her country.
The Redding, California native and American poster girl recently became the first openly-gay woman to pose for the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue and she’s set to help the US women’s team compete for another FIFA World Cup trophy this summer with a qualifying match against Thailand scheduled for June 11.
In a lengthy interview with Yahoo Sports, Rapinoe explains why she most likely won’t be singing or honoring the Star Spangled Banner the way she has in the past, not this summer, or anytime in the foreseeable future.
‘I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart. ‘I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again,’ she definitively stated during an interview published Monday.
‘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. 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.’
She continued: ‘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.’
Rapinoe hasn’t turned her back on her country. She seems to feel it’s many from her country who have turned their backs on folks like her and others from marginalized groups.
In 2016, she took a knee during a pre-game National Anthem performance in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who used the gesture as a means of silent protest against racism and police brutality after a string of high-profile fatal shootings of black Americans by law enforcement officers.
‘I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties,’ Rapinoe told reporters at the time.
Kaepernick, who hasn’t played a down in the NFL since the end of the 2016 regular season, recently settled a collusion lawsuit accusing NFL owners of conspiring to keep him out of the league.
In response to Rapinoe’s protest, the United States Soccer Federation created a rule requiring players to stand ‘respectfully’ during the playing of the anthem, according to the New York Times.
Rapinoe initially said she would abide by the rule, adding that, ‘It is an honor to represent the USA and all that we stand for – to be able to pull on the red, white and blue to play a game that I love.’
But she said the era of President Donald Trump has compelled her to speak out in defense of the America she believes in and has tried to embody her whole life by standing up to bullies during her youth and being an LGBTQ role model as an adult.
‘I learned very early on, on this team, that we have a specific platform, and we reach a lot of people,’ Rapinoe said. ‘Realizing the team had that platform meshed pretty naturally with wanting to do the right thing.’
Today, Rapinoe feels responsible to use her platform to speak out on social issues, regardless of the consequences or backlash she may receive from Trump or his supporters.
‘I feel like I’m a walking protest,’ Rapinoe said after calling the president a ‘sexist,’ ‘misogynistic,’ ‘small-minded,’ ‘racist,’ adding that he is ‘not a good person,’ according to Yahoo.
‘Whenever you’re trying to be an ally, and it’s super easy and comfortable for you, you’re not an ally. … I think that was a really good lesson for me: This is what it’s going to take for things to change, norms to change, conventions to change, to try to break down white supremacy and break down racial bias. It’s going to take it being hard.’
After being asked what it would take to restore her former patriotic posture, Rapinoe answered: ‘It would take a lot.’
‘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… There are things that are much more important than soccer,’ she said.