Professional women’s soccer player and U.S. national team standout Megan Rapinoe followed the lead of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and knelt through the national anthem before her team’s National Women’s Soccer League game last Sunday.
Rapinoe, who plays for the Seattle Reign in the NWSL, didn’t have a chance to do the same before Wednesday’s game.
The Washington Spirit played the national anthem before Rapinoe and her teammates were on the field, then released a statement in which the club said doing so was “the best option to avoid taking focus away from the game” because the Spirit organization “respectfully disagree[s] with her method of hijacking our organization’s event to draw attention to what is ultimately a personal — albeit worthy — cause.”
Yes, it was a strongly worded statement.
Rapinoe said after Sunday’s game that her gesture was “a nod to Kaepernick” and said she was “disgusted with the way he has been treated.” Rapinoe also said that “being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the anthem and felt like I haven’t had my liberties protected, so I can absolutely sympathize with that feeling.”
The Spirit statement the anthem was played ahead of Rapinoe taking the field to not “subject our fans and friends to the disrespect we feel such an act would represent.” It said Spirit owner Bill Lynch is a veteran and the “national anthem holds an exceptionally special meaning for this organization.”
It’s not likely we’ll see an NFL team change anything on its highly scripted and highly regulated pregame itinerary to do something similar, but what the Spirit did is surely an interesting chapter in a story that doesn’t feel like it’s going away anytime soon.