Unapologetically Me

Athletes Not Visiting The White House: Patriotism v Nationalism, Protests, How Does It Impact USWNT

Megan Rapinoe once again makes the headlines for her strong personality after being asked if she would attend the White House if the USWNT go on to win the World Cup. Her response was “I am not fucking going.”

She went on to say that she doubts they would be invited. This of course has everything to do with President Donald Trump who of course tweeted his response quickly…

“Women’s soccer player, @mPinoe just started that she is “not going to the F…ing White House if we win.” Other than the NBA, which now refuses to call owners, owners (please explain that I just got Criminal Justice Reform passed, Black unemployment is at the lowest level…

…in our Country’s history, and the poverty index is also best number EVER), leagues and teams love coming to the White House. I am a big fan of the American Team, and Women’s Soccer, but Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job! We haven’t yet….

….invited Megan or the team, but I am now inviting the TEAM, win or lose. Megan should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her & the team. Be proud of the Flag that you wear. The USA is doing GREAT!

Rapinoe is also currently protesting the National Anthem by not putting her hand over heart and followed suit amid the Colin Kaepernick controversy. She has been doing so for several years now. In 2016, she wrote the following…

“I haven’t experienced over-policing, racial profiling, police brutality or the sight of family member’s body lying dead in the street. But I cannot stand idly by while there are people in this country who have had to deal with that kind of heartache. There is no perfect way to protest. I know nothing I do will take away pain of those families. But I feel in my heart it is right to continue to kneel during the national anthem, and I will do whatever I can to be part of the solution.” 

Now that We Have Context of What Is Happening…

First and foremost, Trump loves to take credit for the low unemployment numbers, but he must have forgot that those rates have been dropping since 2010. That is another story for another day. Long story short…weird flex, but ok.

The other part of that tweet that is incredibly easy to rip is the win before you talk. If that isn’t the most ironic statement of 2019, I don’t know what is.

I do agree and think it is completely silly that NBA wants to drop the term “owner.” If the word owner offends you due to working for someone who does in fact own the business you work for, you’re being oversensitive.

All that being said, athletes not visiting the White House has become a major pain point for the right and specifically Trump. If someone bypasses, he is quick to go after them on Twitter which is nothing new. Of course when he does, supporters of Trump cheer him on. That’s what supporters do. That is fine.

Athletes bypassing trips to the White House is nothing new.

In 2013, Ravens Center Matt Birk passed on a trip because he’s catholic and didn’t like former President Barack Obama’s stance on planned parenthood.

It’s happened many times before including athletes like Tom Brady, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.

Now the difference is many weren’t openly protesting.

However, people are fundamentally wrong when they say things like “support your country no matter what” or “this isn’t the way to do it” or my personal favorite “you’re un-American” and claim these athletes need to have patriotism.

Patriotism v Nationalism

I want to address something that people need clarification on and it shows. The right likes to use the word patriotism as a crutch.

In the simplest terms, a patriot is someone who supports AND wants to make their country a better place. That pretty much puts to bed and shames the “if you don’t like it, leave” crowd.

Just because someone wants better livelihood for the place they live, that doesn’t mean they think it is an unpleasant place to live.

A nationalist will blindly support their country no matter what happens.

Nationalism is the idea of superior races, classes and other social distinctions that make one body of people better than the other. I know this will probably fall on deaf ears for some, but those are the principals Trump ran on.

Trump has gone on record and said he is a nationalist. He knew what trigger points would get him notoriety and eventually elected. The dude is brilliant for it. In the social media age, make the most noise and you’ll likely benefit.

Make America Great Again caught like wildfire. People wore the hats and used that phrase to no avail especially after he won.

In fact, I saw someone show up to my buddy’s wedding wearing one. Way to try and draw attention to yourself at a relatives wedding by being political. Weird flex, but ok.

Trump knew what his phrase meant between the lines. He has painted the black athletes kneeling in the NFL as un-American for kneeling. He declared that people from “shit hole” countries are barbarians who are coming here and becoming violent criminals. He says Make America Great Again but what he meant was Make America White Again.

Do I think Trump is the hateful SOB that he leads on to be? No, I actually don’t. What I see is a successful businessman who knew how to manipulate and win an election. He followed through. Manipulation is a large part of political game and damn it if he isn’t great at it.

But the phrase itself is kind of looney, “Make America Great Again.”

Has America not been great for quite some time?

Just because America has it’s problems like everyone else doesn’t mean it’s not great. It’s not perfect by any means. It never will be. Utopian countries don’t exist, at least that we know of. But saying it isn’t great is a huge reach.

The United States consistently ranks in the Top 10 countries to live. It has ranked 8th the last two years. We haven’t had a war fought on this soil since 1942. The US spends more on defense than anyone thus keeping us relatively safe from terrorists both foreign and domestic.

Oh, and the US is back to back World War Champions.

To quote the great Ron Swanson, “history started on July 4, 1776. Everything before that was a mistake.”

Obviously that is a joke.

The Protests

Why are people so scared of them? Without protests, the conversation doesn’t get moving. Colin Kaepernick kneeled in 2015 and conversations are still constantly happening because of it. Athletes are still following suit because of it.

I have a small circle of friends that have a group message with me. It started as NFL Weekly Picks, but has since evolved into talking about everything under the sun.

It’s become a fun hub for debate as well. We were discussing this Rapinoe situation which turned into a debate about protesting. The floodgates opened. We had a great discussion about it.

For me, I think people have every right to say what they want because I believe heavily in the marketplace of ideas and freedom of speech. No matter how hateful or how wrong what they say may be, they should have that right.

We were talking and someone mentioned how this feels different because she is playing for the US and not a city or state. That is fair and a conundrum many people probably share.

My contention is that her not visiting is one of the most American things you can do considering it is protected by the 1st Amendment. Protesting is one of the most proactive and effective methods to voice displeasure in American history.

Hell, the United States may not be here now if it weren’t for the colonists’ decision to protest the British monopoly on the tea market. They were unhappy so in December of 1773, they dumped tea into the Boston Harbor thus giving one of the most monumental moments in pre American history, the Boston Tea Party.

Movements and protests throughout US history have indeed impacted our society today. Without people like Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other black activists during the Civil Rights movement, I would not be able to eat lunch with my black friends.

Without the push for marriage equality among the LGBTQ community, friends of mine can’t legally form a partnership with their lovers.

Protests are not without controversy and they’re certainly not always held without violence.

But if you are peacefully demonstrating and some asshole wants to make it violent, that is entirely on the people who decide to react violently. There are idiots on all sides. If you react poorly, it is a you problem.

By pushing harder, you get the conversation moving faster. As long as the conversations are being had, progress is being made. The more you have, the better.

Now, in the case of the NFL, freedom of speech does not mean freedom of consequence in the workplace, nor should it. I am for people speaking out, but I am also for businesses protecting their bottom lines.

The NFL cracked down on the anthem protests this past season and the ratings were back to par after a 3 year skid. That was after a record season on all prime-time games across the board in 2014 before sliding. The NFL saw the noise it created and they acted accordingly as they should.

How Does This Impact the USWNT?

This is a fair question to ask. Is Rapinoe hurting the team by doing this?

She isn’t. This team has been filled with trailblazers who break the mold. Before Rapinoe, Abby Wambach was the outspoken star. Prior to Wambach, you had the Brandi Chastain sports bra celebration and everyone flipped their shit over it.

This team has been dealing with controversy for two decades. Despite that, they are the most successful team in Women’s soccer and it isn’t close. They are the only team to place in the top 3 in every World Cup. They are going for their 4th World Cup win and currently hold the most wins at 3.

Rapinoe has been protesting during the anthem for a few years now and yet you see the respect she commands from the team. Those girls play hard as hell for one another. Clearly, it isn’t a distraction.

Until it becomes one, who cares?

It’s not hurting their bottom line as they continue to win and draw record TV ratings. So until the distractions come, act accordingly.




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