I grew up loving sports. As a patriotic kid who was raised to respect the flag and support fellow Americans, cheering for US teams as they competed internationally was natural. From the Olympics to the World Cup, I followed US athletes in the news when I could and used to watch the big events on live TV.
My youth also marked a time when sports generally avoided politics. Athletes competed for the love of sport and for the pride of their country. Some were activists off the field, but they smartly separated their personal and professional lives. Wokeism has destroyed this concept. A few choice examples of star US soccer player Megan Rapinoe and her woke teammates’ behaviors in the past few years:
2016 – Rapinoe kneeling before the national anthem at an international game.[i]
2019 – Rapinoe and teammate Allie Long drop the US flag and step on it as they arrogantly pose for the cameras.[ii]
2021 – Controversy over whether the US Women’s team turned their back on WW2 veteran playing the national anthem on the harmonica.[iii] Officials said they some players were still facing the flag, but many players, such as Rapinoe, refused to honor the flag or the song with a patriotic gesture and just stood there during the song. Either way, they could have honored the veteran…and the US Flag at least to honor his sacrifices.
2022 – Rapinoe speaks her mind after the 2022 SCOTUS decision concerning abortion. “"We live in [a] country that forever tries to chip away what you have innately, what you have been privileged enough to feel your entire life," she said.[iv]
Ironically, the woke athletes still expect us to cheer for them, even though they denounce everything I and many other patriotic Americans hold dear – God, family, hard work, selflessness, veterans, and the American flag.
Rapinoe has been very clear about her public disdain for America – public pictures of her kneeling before games to stomping on the US flag on the field. In a 2019 New York Times article, a reporter asked, “I’m curious: Where did the arms-wide goal celebration you were doing during the World Cup come from?” Rapinoe responded arrogantly, “It was probably born out of a little arrogance. Like, are you not entertained? What more do you want? And it was sort of saying to Trump — but more to detractors in general — that you will not steal our joy from us as a team, as the L.G.B.T.Q. community, as America. It was kind of a [expletive] you, but nice.”[v] At least she had the decency to not sugarcoat it so she could cowardly deny such statements later.
Rapinoe appears to be the ringleader in wokeness on the US Women’s National Team. “Former U.S. Women's National Team goalkeeper Hope Solo recently claimed star forward Megan Rapinoe "bullied" players into kneeling before the national anthem.” "I think the rhetoric surrounding this team has been both divisive and inclusive," Solo told Goal.com earlier this month. "I guess it's kind of where we are in politics in this day and age." [vi] U.S. Soccer (the governing organization) banned soccer players from kneeling for the national anthem after Rapinoe began kneeling in 2016. She appeared to be following another woke athlete’s lead, Colin Kaepernick. However, the team was allowed to kneel again after May 2020 and has been doing so ever since.
While I cannot say all soccer players agree with her, none have given serious opposition to her antics and ideology. If the rest of the players boycotted games until the wokeness was expunged from the team, perhaps the coach and other leaders would think twice before standing behind Rapinoe and other players that manifest such hatred for their own country. Further, if enough Americans continued to criticize Rapinoe and/or stop watching the teams’ games, perhaps Rapinoe and her cohort of America haters would relegate politics to venues off the playing field.
Athletes have freedom of speech like everyone else does. However, as public figures, they have to choose wisely the venues that they use to insult America and its politics. Lumping the American flag and Constitution into every binary liberal argument that you agree with them or else America, its symbols, and foundational ideals are rotten to the core is dangerous. Persisting in her absolutism and reckless disrespect for America predictably and rightfully alienates her and the team from many Americans. She cannot have it both ways, even though she and many other woke athletes demand such blind allegiance, US flag be damned.
The US Women’s Team is now playing in the FIFA World Cup. I have not yet reached the point where I will root AGAINST them. However, as a veteran and American, I can only take so much from woke athletes that have profited from our culture and yet sacrificed nothing for America.
John Hughes, MD
Veteran of Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan
Member of STARRS.US
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