Ten years from now when we look back at the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the lasting memory and narrative with be centered around USWNT star Megan Rapinoe.
She’s defiantly taken on President Donald Trump. She’s helped lead the US to two knockout round victories by scoring four consecutive goals. In a time when athletes are often skewered for taking a stand on anything, she’s been strong, dignified, and brash.
Most importantly, she’s helped raise the profile of the woman’s game not just to national — but to global– prominence.
Women’s soccer is ready to make “the leap”
Over the past 5-10 years, women’s soccer has steadily gained support from established European clubs and popularity with the viewing public.
This is particularly true in the US, where girls look up to the women’s team no differently than a kid idolizes Steph Curry. Case in point: the USWNT home kit is Nike’s all-time top seller.
The 2019 Women’s World Cup presents a real inflection point for the sport. All of the elements are there to catapult women’s soccer to new heights. As with most sports, a true star is often the projectile on that catapult. Think of the NBA in the early 1980’s with Magic, Bird, and then Jordan. Think of the UFC in the mid 2000’s with Chuck Liddell.
The star for the US and women’s soccer at large is Megan Rapinoe.
Rapinoe defines this World Cup and where women’s soccer is headed
My daughter has mostly played as a center forward in club soccer. She should’ve gravitated towards Alex Morgan. It would’ve made sense. I even pushed her toward Morgan. “Watch her, learn how she plays the position. She’s one of the best in the world.”
However, after watching a lot of USWNT games, she ended up gravitating towards Rapinoe. Got her hair cut the same way. Watched her YouTube videos. Started playing more on the left wing even.
Kids always know. They immediately gravitate towards the most catchy songs. They look up to who they trust and respect. I couldn’t be more proud of her for her choice for a role model.
This is absolutely no knock on anyone else on the team. They’re all badasses. Rapinoe just happens to be the alpha badass among them.
You don’t have to agree with her opinions. That’s fine. You should respect her conviction. You definitely should respect her game.
In a society that is just starting to get comfortable with equal rights and equal pay, Rapinoe is just like, “yeah f*ck going to the White House and inequality…and by the way, my opinions won’t cause a distraction here’s four goals in a row for you.”
I don’t care if you’re the most red-blooded red-stater out there, what’s more American than that?
A permanent place on the sporting landscape
At this year’s World Cup, the world is seeing the quality of women’s soccer on full display. Having a personality big enough to match the product on the field is the last little step needed to not just take the sport to the next level, but keep it there.
Whether she likes it or not, or means to or not, Rapinoe has done that.
She took women’s soccer from a sports story to a national story to a global story. And the game is better for it.