Since the start, maybe before, of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, Megan Rapinoe has been, how should I say, controversial. She seems to be receiving a lot of press and of course, at least temporarily, is trending on Twitter. All of that will change in the next few days, if it hasn’t already. Before they won the trophy this year, she is quoted in the press as saying
I’m not going to the fucking White House
That’s fine. It’s her choice and no one is forced to accept an invitation to the White House. The White House always extends invitations to sports champions, whether it’s college level or professional club play. Whether any or all on a team decide to attend is totally up to them. It’s really nothing more than a photo-op anyway, but in this instance, it’s a way for the nation to celebrate these champions because you see, these players are not there representing their club, or a city, state or region: They represent a country, the nation as a whole and that includes people of all races, ethnicities, religions, and sexual orientation.
It’s a few hours out of each players life to be honored, officially by the President, no matter who the occupant of the White House happens to be currently. I think though that some of the anti-Rapinoe rhetoric has been a little over the top. Does anyone really care what she thinks? I don’t believe so and continuing to play up the idea that the USWNT, in the majority would decline the invitation doesn’t really say anything about the President, but those players themselves.
It appears that some have accepted invitations from other politicians, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Chuck Schumer, and that’s fine but I don’t think that will be viewed well among many across the country. It will be seen as strictly partisan, not a good look for either the politicians or the players, and although the left-wing media (CNN, MSNBC, NYT, WaPo, to name a few) will try to play this as an insult to the President, I doubt anyone else will actually care. Think about it: their funding (men’s and women’s) is mostly from private sources, corporations and individuals. Depending on how the event transpires, if it is too political, some of that funding may be jeopardized and that would be awful for a team that have won a record four World Cup championships, with this years win being the teams first consecutive championship.
For several of these players, this year will be their final World Cup appearance. Almost half the team is at least 30 years old, and in soccer, that’s getting to the point of retirement at least from the international stage. Rapinoe herself is 34, and other than possible appearing the in Olympics next summer, this is her last hurrah as an international star.
Instead of focusing on these specific players, the country should be asking, what’s next ? Who are the next stars of the women’s team? I think that’s a lot more important than some petty political stand that no one will remember by the time of the next World Cup, if they even remember by the end of this month.