United States Women’s National Team member Megan Rapinoe is an interesting character. Her play on the field speaks for herself. She is tied with Alex Morgan in the race for the Golden Boot Award at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup as the top goal scorer. She is deadly on set pieces and the kicker of choice for head coach Jill Ellis on penalty kicks. Rapinoe, now 34, is also an outspoken leader for this national team that is beginning another transitional phase from the older generation with players such as herself, Kelley O’Hara, Ali Kreiger, and Carli Lloyd to the next generation with the likes of Mallory Pugh, Morgan Brian, Rose LaVelle, etc. However, it is her outspokenness off the field that has brought her attention and even a “trumpy” reputation.
Rapinoe was criticized earlier in the tournament for comments she made months ago when asked whether she would visit the White House on the customary trip if the USA women’s team wins the World Cup. Her reply on video to a reporter from Eight by Eight magazine was “I’m not going to the f---- White House.” In another interview, she called herself “a walking protest when it comes to the Trump administration.” Yet, she probably has more in common with the President than she has differences.
Both Rapinoe and Trump have achieved a level of success in life that has made them comfortable and secure to be able to speak without fear of repercussion. Trump, many even argue, won the presidency with a straight talk message where he did not worry about who he offended. When he saw he offended someone, instead of apologizing, he was more likely to double-down on it! Trump has alienated the Mexican community and Central American migrants with his immigration rhetoric. He has picked fights with allies in NATO countries as well as trading partners such as China, Canada and others. He has angered climate change advocates with his denials as well as experts on many other topics. Trump is Trump. And, Trump speaks his mind – regardless of what’s in it or what he has to back it up.
Well, Megan Rapinoe sure has a lot of opinions to share as well. He has always been an outspoken advocate foe LGBTQ rights – she has been an open lesbian for years and her life partner is WBNA icon Sue Bird. She also sided with Colin Kaepernick protest stance on police brutality and knelt during the national anthem at several USA Women’s National Team games. She has been a big advocate for “equal pay” for the men’s and women’s national teams as well. She is a vocal critic of Trump’s stance on a variety of issues and has also engaged in numerous Twitter spats with the President.
So, during this World Cup, it would only be expected that Rapinoe would be a “go to” soundbite for reporters. And, she has not disappointed! It started out after the opening game against Thailand that the defending champions won 13-0. The controversy in that game was two-fold – one about ringing up 13-0 goals against a clearly overmatched Thailand, who was making their first World Cup appearance. Secondly, the team was criticized for its excessive celebrations for some of those latter goals – including Rapinoe’s goal to make it 8-0 where she slid into the USA bench and shook her leg in the air as if she was having spasms. Rapinoe told reporters afterwards that it was “pent up” excitement and an “explosion of joy” – not the beating up on a third world country and rubbing their face in it, which a lot of people viewed it as.
When teammate Alex Morgan was criticized for her British tea-sipping celebration against England in another seemingly mocking of an opponent, Rapinoe fired back at critics saying “Wah, wah, wah…” to mock their crying about it. Wow, that was a very “Trumpy” way to respond to criticism too. Rapinoe was very blunt and unapologetic, just like someone else we all know. Rather than take a conciliatory tone, she challenged her critics and even mocked them. Wow, again, sounds like someone else we know.
So, while Rapinoe might be a great player on the field, if you are not a Trump-fan, you probably shouldn’t be a Rapinoe fan either. If you like that trash-talking, “in your face” style, then you will probably notice a little of each in both Rapinoe and Trump. It would be a great match up to see them get together for coffee in a steel cage! Who comes out alive?