I don’t follow women’s soccer closely. However, I’ve seen enough of the U.S. team to know that if there’s an act to get into, Megan Rapinoe, the flamboyant star midfielder, is probably going to get into it. Thus, it wasn’t surprising when she decided to emulate Colin Kaepernick and disrespect America by refusing to stand for the National Anthem.
Bill Lynch, the owner of the Washington Spirit against whom Repinoe’s Seattle team was set to play, had other plans. He decided to have the Anthem played before the teams took the field. Thus, Rapinoe was unable to indulge in her gesture of contempt.
Lynch, an air force veteran, explained that he did not want to “subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel such an act would represent.” He added, perhaps with a nod to political correctness, that he “disagree[s] with [Rapinoe’s] method of hijacking our organization’s event to draw attention to what is ultimately a personal — albeit worthy — cause.”
Her thunder stolen, the player was not amused. Rapinoe called Lynch’s decision “[expletive] unbelievable.” She even tried to invoke the patriotism of her teammates:
It was incredibly distasteful, four days before one of the worst tragedies in our country, to say that I tried to hijack this event. . .It’s just really disappointing and disrespectful.
We want to talk about disrespect, and me disrespecting, he didn’t even give both teams a chance to even stand in front of it and show their respects. It’s unbelievable. It’s truly an unbelievable act to me.
Inasmuch as Rapinoe planned to show her disrespect for America four days before 9/11, its “[expletive] unbelievable” that she would invoke that tragedy and other players’ desire to respect their country in light of it, to support her attack on Lynch.
Rapinoe wasn’t done with her tantrum, though. She accused Lynch of being “homophobic.” (Rapinoe is a lesbian.)
Her basis? Lynch’s team does not hold a “gay pride” event.
Many women’s professional sports teams hold such events, which probably makes business sense since lesbians often form more than a minimal part of the fan base. But the Washington team doesn’t because, says Lynch, “I made a “conscious decision early on not to promote any individual causes.” “I want to focus on women’s soccer and the game,” he added.
Even Rapinoe said it’s “a bit of stretch” to accuse Lynch of being homophobic based on these facts. Actually, it’s a scurrilous attack.
Should Rapinoe be punished for it? No. She should be able to express her contemptible opinions without punishment.
However, it seems to me that the case for punishment here is considerably stronger than the case for punishing Hope Solo. Readers may recall that U.S. Soccer suspended Solo for six months and terminated her contract with the women’s national team because she said, after a heartbreaking loss to Sweden in the Olympics, that the Swedish players were cowardly for going into a defensive shell against the U.S.
Naturally, Rapinoe got in on the act. She criticized Solo for her comments.
Now Rapinoe has accused the owner of a women’s soccer team of hatred against a significant portion of humanity — hatred that many, including me, consider wrongful if not immoral.
Which statement is more deserving of punishment? The question, I think, answers itself.
If Rapinoe isn’t punished, the message will be that chiding Swedish soccer players over tactics is worse than viciously insulting an American who is heavily involved in promoting the women’s game.