Megan Rapinoe Won’t Go Quietly

Megan Rapinoe thrives on noise. Most athletes strive to be “in the zone”—that state of quiet mental focus enabling players to block out the cheers and jeers of stadium crowds, allowing performance to peak.

Rapinoe, however, takes in all the chatter. “I’m hearing the crowds, I’m hearing the fans,” she says.

The two-time defending World Cup champion forward for the U.S. is reclining on a restaurant couch in Seattle, where she plays for the OL Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), wearing rhinestone-studded jeans and a tricolored shirt—white, red, and black—with a flower pattern running down the sleeves. “Every time I go over for a corner kick,” says Rapinoe, “I’m always like, ‘Hey, what’s going on here?’”

Rapinoe’s embrace of commotion has defined her career. She’s one of the most talked-about American athletes of our time, a 5-ft. 7-in. whirling dervish of resistance who, depending on whom you ask, is either an unapologetic symbol of on-field excellence and off-field progress or a disrespectful heel. (Or, if misogyny or homophobia is your bag, worse.)

More than a decade ago, she came out as gay, giving many other female sports figures permission to be more open about their sexuality. She has since worked tirelessly as an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community—she’s the brightest athletic star currently leading a fight against the proliferation of U.S. state laws that ban transgender youth from playing on teams consistent with their gender identity.

Rapinoe has also knelt in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and led a protracted but ultimately successful battle against her own soccer federation to ensure equal pay for female players. After Donald Trump criticized her during the 2019 World Cup, she scored against France and struck a now iconic pose that reminded the then President, and her vociferous critics, that she’s going absolutely nowhere.



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