It's official! The United States Women's National Team just won their second consecutive World Cup, their fourth overall since the tournament was created in 1991. The American women were a force on the pitch, winning every game in full time. They even beat Thailand 13-0!
Needless to say, the U.S. National Team was a dominant force, and there was little doubt that this team would eventually win the title. The leader of this team was none other than Megan Rapinoe. A co-captain of the team, Rapinoe became the face of Women's Soccer during the World Cup. She won the Golden Ball Award for being the best player in the entire tournament, she won the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals in the tournament, even though she missed a game with an injury, and oh yeah, she won the World Cup.
Apart from her accomplishments and accolades on the pitch, she gained a lot of notoriety for her comments about President Trump. Rapinoe gained national headlines for saying that she wouldn't "go to the fu*king White House" if the team won the World Cup. She also said that she does not respect the President, and called him "racist", "sexist", "small-minded" and "not a good person". The President responded as he would, on Twitter, saying that Megan should win the cup before opening her mouth. Now that she's won and put her money where her mouth was, Rapinoe and the entire Women's National Team have every right to become national icons, remembered and regarded the same way that Billie Jean King and Serena Williams are.
Unfortunately, however, deserving to become an icon doesn't automatically make you one, and at some point how you're remembered, or if you're even remembered at all, is ultimately determined by the American public and their perception of you. For many supporters of President Trump, Rapinoe's words towards and about the President will always be seen as incendiary, and if they remember her, it will most likely be as someone perceived as anti-American while disrespecting the colors that she wears as she plays. For many social conservatives, the idea of holding a female athlete in such high esteem, especially an LGBT woman, is nothing short of unthinkable.
For social liberals and those who aren't fans of the President, however, Megan Rapinoe will almost certainly be remembered as a woman who spoke truth to power and used her position to stand up for her ideals and the ideals that the entire country should strive for. Unfortunately, it's very possible that Rapinoe will not be remembered in this way in the same way that many other female athletes are, just as Sue Bird and Abby Wambach, two previous World Cup Champions have seemingly faded into the back of the cultural zeitgeist.
How will Megan Rapinoe be remembered? In my opinion, she deserves to be an American Sports icon just as much, if not more, than Michael Phelps. The political state of the country, however, will keep her from reaching this status. In any respectable country that has its ideals in order, Rapinoe would most certainly become that icon. Unfortunately for Megan, she lives in the United States of America.