by Derek Scarlino/Love and Rage
CHICAGO, IL – Megan Rapinoe, midfielder for the NWSL’s Seattle Reign and US National Team since 2006, took a knee during the playing of the Star-Spangled Banner during a game Sunday versus the Chicago Red Stars.
The gesture, which Rapinoe said was “very intentional”, came in support of San Francisco 49’ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick who has been sitting, and kneeling, during the national anthem throughout the NFL preseason. Kaepernick’s now well-documented reasons, a protest of police brutality as well as the lack of justice in the wake of fatal police encounters, have added even more discussion to the issue, spreading to other players in the league and now, it seems, to other professional athletes as well.
A 2012 Olympic gold medalist and 2015 World Cup winner, Rapinoe had the following to say about her actions:
“It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country. Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”
As reported by The Guardian, Rapinoe runs a charity called Athlete Ally, which combats homophobia in sports and has been known to speak her mind in the past.
During last week’s preseason game versus San Diego, Kaepernick was joined on one knee by teammate Eric Reid during the national anthem. Throughout the NFL and country, Kaepernick’s actions have drawn both criticism and praise. Other players, such as Victor Cruz of the New York Giants and Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks have criticized his actions while commending his personal stance on the issue at hand. Sherman, with Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin also came to the defense of teammate Jeremy Lane during the latter’s own protest.