“I feel like I’m a walking protest,” she once explained.
Some critics are quick to declare that Rapinoe and her teammates ought to “stick to sports.” But sports are inherently political, and indeed history is filled with expressions of protest from athletes. From deliberate ones, like Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ iconic Black Power salute during the 1968 Olympics, to passive ones like gold medalist Jesse Owens serving as the foil to Hitler’s vision of white supremacy at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
For Rapinoe and the U.S. women’s national team, their form of protest is both.
While Rapinoe doesn’t flinch at calling out the mistreatment of female athletes and the unfair burdens of intersectionality — and she has labeled Trump “sexist,” “misogynistic,” “small-minded,” “racist” and “not a good person” — even her more reserved teammates manage to make their own statements on the soccer field.