Sports Illustrated has named anthem protester Megan Rapinoe as its “sportsperson of the year” for 2019.
The venerable sports magazine celebrated Rapinoe as a player on “the world’s stage” who was “under attack by a world leader,” but who “dominated” and did so “without fear.”
As a result, “Megan Rapinoe became a voice for so many across the world,” the magazine gushed.
Strangely, Sports Illustrated thought it was fantastic that Rapinoe’s first goal during the Women’s World Cup in July was “the equivalent of flashing double-barrel middle fingers.”
Recounting the World Cup play that ended in that celebrated goal, the magazine crowed, “the whole scene ended with the pink-haired lesbian winger posing near the corner flag in defiance and triumph and joy: arms outstretched, chin up, head tipped just back.”
But, the magazine added, it was “more than a celebration,” because, during the games, Rapinoe was being “publicly questioned by the leader of the free world.”
Further into its retrospective of her career, Sports Illustrated adds: “Hers is another kind of magic. Sure, she scored six times, five of those in elimination rounds. But in her three decades preparing for this stage, she never expected to have to perform while the president of her country taunted her, and a nonzero percentage of Americans rooted for her to fail.”
This is not strictly true, though. The magazine’s allusion to president Trump seems as if Trump was blasting Rapinoe while she competed in the international game without any reason for his attack. But it was really the other way around. Rapinoe attacked both the U.S.A. and President Trump first. Trump only responded and did so somewhat mildly compared to how he has laid into others.
Rapinoe fired the first shots against Trump by insisting that if the U.S. team won the Cup, she would refuse to visit the White House. The president replied to that preemptive taunt saying, “Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!”
Once in France for the games, Rapinoe continued her practice of refusing to place her hand over her heart and sing the U.S. national anthem ahead of each game even as her teammates all stood and sang the nation’s song. She continued that ungrateful behavior even during the team’s celebration parade and events in New York after the tournament.
Indeed, Rapinoe said she had an “immense sense of pride” in herself for protesting against the U.S.A. while in France.
She also made several other comments during the games proving that she was the one stirring the pot, not an innocent player under attack by an out of control president. In fact, Trump happily tweeted his congratulations to the U.S. women’s team for winning the Cup.
Sports Illustrated also praises Rapinoe for her campaign for equal pay in soccer.
“She led her teammates, three months before their tentpole tournament, to sue the U.S. Soccer Federation for equal pay; to declare in advance that they would not visit the White House when they won the Cup; to score 13 goals in a group-stage match against Thailand, without apology,” the magazine wrote.
Then, once again, Sports Illustrated dipped into the gutter to praise Rapinoe for that arrogant “pose” after she scored that fateful goal. “It was kind of like a ‘F— you,’ but with a big smile and a s—eating grin,” the magazine quoted Rapinoe as saying. “You are not going to steal any of our joy.”
The magazine was ebullient over Rapinoe’s left-wing activism:
In the months since: Michelle Obama recruited Rapinoe to join in a voter-participation initiative. Gloria Steinem, the original feminist icon, thanked Rapinoe for carrying her torch. A high school girls’ soccer team in Burlington, Vt., staged its own campaign in support of equal pay, and an 11-year-old boy in Geneva, Ill., went viral for his pink-haired Halloween costume, each inspired by Rapinoe. She has been invited to Washington by New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; talked politics on Meet the Press, Pod Save America and CNN; and turned into a coveted endorsement for the 2020 election. No, she’s not running for office anytime soon. “I don’t have plans for policies and how to implement them,” she says. “I’ll just be the jabber.” (The White House did reach out privately to the team about a visit, a U.S. Soccer rep confirms. Rapinoe says she heard about the outreach on the plane ride home from France, from USSF president Carlos Cordeiro. He suggested a visit to both the White House and Capitol Hill; Rapinoe and another player reiterated they didn’t want to meet with Trump. Rapinoe would like to visit Congress with her team, but she doesn’t think U.S. Soccer is willing to organize a trip that skips the White House, with the World Cup coming to the U.S. in 2026. The team rep says ’26 “has absolutely zero bearing” on the issue.)
And once again another celebration of her “f-you” rhetoric:
Obama, AOC, CNN. . . Rapinoe has a name for all of this. Her “newfound fame.” When she travels, she enters what her teammates have dubbed “IncogPinoe” mode, often slipping on a Supreme ballcap with a hidden message stitched in white thread on white canvas: f— you. It’s her way of poking fun at this temporary status; she knows how easily the cheers can turn to boos.
The magazine made a point to slap Rapinoe on the back for her potty mouth over and over again. This Sports Illustrated “sportsperson of the year” sure has an awful lot of people she wants to tell to “f-off.” And Sports Illustrated loves it.
The magazine’s glowing review of Rapinoe’s career adds the player’s disgust with her father for his vote for Donald Trump and her months of refusing to talk to him because she hates his politics. Her brother’s addiction to drugs and legal troubles are also touched upon in the bio section.
But the theme of the Sports Illustrated award is Rapinoe’s harsh, “f-you” personality.
The magazine’s cover shot celebrates Rapinoe’s penchant for destroying things by featuring the player standing with a smug grin and holding a sledgehammer. In another photo, she stands defiant, feet planted wide apart, arms outstretched with fists clenched, screaming as the camera shutter snaps.
There is also more celebration of her f-bombs with the magazine reporting that as she commented on the photos, she said, “What about a smirk? It’s kind of like a little, F— you, I’m coming.”
The arrogance literally boils over with the magazine’s last Rapinoe quote.
“It’s clearly more than a celebration,” Rapinoe says, but “I’m still trying to articulate exactly the way I feel in it. This is me in the full. We’re not going to be a certain way for anyone. This is me, and you know you love it.”
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