As the Women's World Cup comes to a close with a sweeping victory for the United States, the resilient women of the U.S. National Team are being deservedly recognized and admired by Americans everywhere. Across the country, young girls and boys alike have been bestowed with 23 new female role models, but few stand out in their philanthropic efforts and confidence as does Captain Megan Rapinoe.
1. She's a philanthropist.
Rapinoe has donated to the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Athlete Ally, and Juan Mata's "Common Goal" campaign. She is also leading a fundraiser for her hometown of Redding, which was recently devastated by northern California's recent Carr Fire. These actions send a positive message to young fans that any sort of financial success comes with an obligation to help those in need and that kindness is a better quality than greed.
2. She stands for gender equality.
In the fight against unequal pay, Megan Rapinoe has publicly denounced FIFA for its failure to close the gap between the prize money for the Men's World Cup and the Women's World Cup. She has also called out the organization's decision to schedule the Women's World Cup Final on the same day as the Men's Gold Cup final and Copa America championship, which pulled international attention away from the women's event. Though FIFA is the major governing body of international soccer, Rapinoe refuses to accept its decisions that leave female athletes at a disadvantage to their male counterparts and, in turn, encourages her young fans to do the same.
3. She stands for racial equality.
In 2016, Rapinoe stood in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick by kneeling during the National Anthem. At the recent Women's World Cup, she stared straight ahead and refused to sing along as a protest against racial inequality in America. In an essay for the Player's Tribune, she states that though she has not experienced "over-policing, racial profiling, police brutality or the sight of a family member's body lying dead in the street," she cannot "stand idly by while there are people in this country who have had to deal with that kind of heartache." In an era that is very nearly defined by the struggle for racial equality, Rapinoe sends the message to her young fans that this cause is one worth fighting for, even in the face of severe criticism.
4. She's openly gay.
Gay rights have come a long way in recent decades, but even as of 2019 the world has a shortage of highly-publicized gay and lesbian role models. Rapinoe is a huge proponent of gay rights, and her open relationship with Sue Bird is further evidence that she is proud and secure in her sexuality. Simply by openly admitting who she is to the world, she is telling young people everywhere that being gay should be a source of pride, not shame or insecurity.
5. She's not afraid to stand for what she believes in.
Prior to the World Cup, Rapinoe made it well-known that she would not be accepting any invitations to the White House; as a critic of President Trump and his policies, this action is in keeping with her political views and philanthropic efforts. Though an invitation was extended nonetheless, Rapinoe and several of her teammates stand by their decision and demonstrate to young girls and boys that there is no obligation to participate in something that goes against their moral values, regardless of the views of others.
On and off the field, Megan Rapnioe is someone we could all learn from.