On September 24th, soccer legend Megan Rapinoe stepped onto the pitch for her final USWNT (United States Women’s National Team) game and kissed her wife. The crowd roared and continued to do so for the duration of the game as the USWNT went on to win 2-0. The celebration-filled win was a fitting end for Rapinoe, as she joyfully assisted one of the goals. In retrospect, the results of this final match have not managed to stay as relevant to Megan’s career as the public kiss with her wife did.
As the legendary Christen Press put it: “You can’t have a conversation about modern sports without talking about Megan Rapinoe because she is the symbol for activism through sport.” Megan Rapinoe spent all 17 years and 63 days of her National Team career fighting for minorities. She was a leading member of the group of USWNT players that petitioned for equal pay during the 2019 world cup. Furthermore, Rapinoe was also the first USWNT player to kneel in support of Black Lives Matter during the national anthem, inspired by Colin Kaepernick. She has always used her social media platforms, her company RE–INC, and any and every vessel she could find to advocate for women, the LGBTQ+ community, people of color, and other under-represented communities.
In 2023, Rapinoe’s public kiss with her wife might have seemed normal, but when Rapinoe began her National Team career in 2006, gay marriage had not been legal yet in the United States. This moment was especially touching to those of us who tuned in for Rapinoe’s final match to see her celebrate one of the many rights she fought so hard for over her career.
Whether being an advocate comes in the job description or not is debatable; Some athletes like Carli Lloyd argue that players should “stick to the sports” while others like Christen Press claim that it’s embedded in their jobs and that it’s impossible to be a player without being a part of the fight. Whichever is the case–whether she was obligated to fight for justice or not– Rapinoe constantly went above and beyond in her changemaking. She used her platform to move activism in ways other players didn’t dare do, such as boldly calling President Donald Trump out multiple times on Twitter. Men from all around the world have criticized her, but she has never backed down. Despite her retirement, Rapinoe’s advocacy isn’t going away. Not only has she inspired younger generations of girls to play soccer, she has introduced those same young girls to the power of advocacy. Megan Rapinoe’s legacy will live on not only in soccer, but in the movements for change she has participated in and inspired.