Megan Rapinoe kneels to continue the conversation on the oppressed

By Lauren Stohler
December 11, 2016


On Sunday, Sept. 4, Seattle Reign FC midfielder, Megan Rapinoe was found exercising her right to kneel during the playing of the national anthem during a home game against the Chicago Red Stars. Inspired by Colin Kaepernick’s silent protest due to the oppression of African Americans, Rapinoe expressed that as a homosexual citizen in the United States, she has too felt that her liberties have not been protected.

“Quite honestly being gay, I have stood with my hand over my heart during the national anthem and felt like I haven’t had my liberties protected,” Rapinoe told ESPN’s Julie Foudy. “I can absolutely sympathize with that feeling.”

Rapinoe has since faced little scrutiny from fans and the media, however, she has instead dealt with the team’s owner, Bill Lynch, shutting down her right to peacefully protest by moving the national anthem to a time where no players would be present on the field. Lynch’s press release stated that it was not in agreement with Rapinoe’s actions to hijack their event to bring awareness to a personal issue.

Since Lynch has done this, Rapinoe has expressed her disappointment and outrage towards the team’s owner by stating that the actions taken to suppress her right to peacefully and silently kneel in protest of those not treated equitably in our country were distasteful and disrespectful.

As American citizens, the national anthem is used as a unifying and patriotic reference to show pride and allegiance to our country. If one feels the need to recognize the very present and real fact that being a citizen of the United States does not mean freedom and liberty for all, they should be able to do so unapologetically. The argument that kneeling during the national anthem is disrespectful to our veterans, soldiers, and to our country’s values of freedom and liberty is futile.

Do we stand, remove our hats and put our hands over our hearts when we are in the comfort of our own homes, sitting on our couches, watching the national anthem being played? Not usually. Refusing to place one’s hand over one’s heart and stand during an anthem should not cause a public outcry because no two citizens have the same experience within our country. Our thanks to our soldiers and veterans should not be as flimsy as an anthem— it should be as strong as our bonds with the family members and friends we have that dedicate their hearts to our nation; our love and pride for this country should not rely on the anthem.

Every professional athlete has worked hard to get to the professional leagues and standing or kneeling for the national anthem has no correlation to the endless training and conditioning they do to make a living. Just because professional athletes make money playing professionally does not mean they should withhold their opinions and beliefs. A wonderful aspect of the democracy in which we live is that everyone should be awarded the right to peacefully kneel in protest, and anyone has the right to get angry at those who do so. Rapinoe’s choice to express her right is ultimately between her and the contract she signed with the Seattle Reign. She knelt knowing the possible backlash and conflicting views she would receive.

Bottom line is Rapinoe is not fighting for anyone to agree with her decision to kneel. She is simply fighting for her right to kneel by Lynch. Rapinoe did not kneel during the national anthem to say that she does not like this country nor to disrespect our veterans or current soldiers. She did so to acknowledge that our nation is still under construction.

If figures such as Kaepernick and Rapinoe want to use their public platform to recognize that not all liberties are equitably advocated for in this nation, they shall be able to do so—without being silenced.

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Lauren Stohler

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