Upon learning that the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) was knocked out of the Women’s World Cup after a 5-4 loss to Sweden, I was not very sympathetic toward the team. It was particularly fitting that Megan Rapinoe, the team’s sour-faced forward and chief political activist, missed an important goal kick near the end of the game.
Televised sports and I parted ways decades ago, but I remember well when the USWNT of the late 1990s inspired my daughter and her friends in their own play on the soccer field. They were avid fans, absorbed in each game, cheering on the team, and analyzing the passes and shots after the contest had ended.
I strongly doubt that admiration remains alive for today’s young female players. When the team you support seems to hate the country you live in, it’s hard to chant “USA! USA!” after a win.
At the 2019 World Cup, Rapinoe and several other teammates refused to sing the national anthem, with Rapinoe announcing that she would probably never sing it again. During a victory parade after this win, teammate Ashlyn Harris, who like Rapinoe is a lesbian, shouted, “Hide your kids, hide your wife … because … I’m comin’ [for them],” a proclamation she laced with obscenities that are omitted here.
At one point during the 2020 contest, the team appeared in Black Lives Matter jackets. In the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, the team knelt during the national anthem. In 2022, after a humiliating loss to a squad of 15-year-old boys, the USWNT nonetheless celebrated their victory in getting U.S. Soccer to pay them salaries equivalent to the men’s team. This year, the coaching staff and most of the team again refused to sing the national anthem.
Not all members of the team have supported Megan Rapinoe, and some have called out Rapinoe as a bully. Still, most of the team follows her lead.
While sports fans were upset at the mediocre play of the USWNT at this year’s World Cup, they and huge numbers of other Americans were even more outraged by the team’s refusal to sing the national anthem. When I asked several of my family members and friends for their thoughts, they were disgusted by this refusal. Indeed, none of them decided to watch the final game, and two of them—both of whom have adolescent daughters—had several years ago given up watching the team altogether. “That’s what they deserve” was a common refrain.
To paraphrase Kylee Griswold at The Federalist, if you despise America, don’t be surprised when Americans couldn’t give a hoot when you lose.
What is particularly baffling here, and ironically amusing, is the lack of any explanation for this silent demonstration. Most of us are aware of the team’s disdain for their own country, but ask anyone what the USWNT was protesting, and you’ll just get a shrug in reply. If these women sought to address some specific wrong in our society, then their protest was an utter failure. It smacked more of grandstanding than of sincerity.
Another piece of this puzzle is equally confusing. Do these athletes really think that the viewers watching them from home are suddenly going to smack themselves in the head and cry out: “Oh my Lord! This is so true! America is an evil country, and I should quit singing the national anthem.” Do they really believe that anyone, liberal or conservative, is applauding them and thinking, “How brave they are! It takes a lot of guts to stand there and not sing”?
If these adult adolescents truly want to make some sort of statement, here’s a tip: Stand and sing the national anthem. Play your hearts out. And when the game is over, if you have something to say that doesn’t sound like the balderdash masquerading as wisdom spewed by so many celebrities, then say it.
One final word to these athletes: You may not realize it, but right now you are a joke. You are arrogant; you disrespect your flag, your country, and your fellow citizens; and you have embarrassed yourselves by your play and your smug behavior.
Perhaps this should be a reminder to the rest of us: Gratitude plays better than grandstanding.
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