Thank you for delivering a second straight World Cup. Thank you for showing us how to fight for what you believe in. Most of all, thank you for being you.
We’ll never forget when you announced yourself to the world in true Megan Rapinoe fashion, singing “Born in the USA” into an on-field microphone after scoring a goal in the 2011 World Cup. Iconic.
Or when, in the same World Cup, you delivered that game saving, 122nd minute bomb of a left foot cross right onto Abby Wambach’s head to level the quarterfinal game against Brazil. That chills-evoking tally stands as the latest goal ever scored in a World Cup game. Clutch.
How about winning the Golden Boot and Golden Ball in your third World Cup appearance, scoring the game-winning goal in the final? Legendary.
Whether it was blonde, gray, or pink hair you were rocking, your play representing the United States has been nothing short of spectacular. And for that, we are eternally grateful.
But your off-the-field contributions may rival anything you’ve done on the pitch.
Let’s address the obvious and talk about your contentious interaction with President Trump. You publicly declared that you wouldn’t go to the White House, an opportunity usually presented to American teams that win championships (the Golden State Warriors were not presented this opportunity, as Stephen Curry declared he wouldn’t go before his team won the NBA finals).
Then, the President of the United States—who apparently doesn’t have anything more important to do than engage in Twitter scuffles with America’s greatest athletes—told you to win first before even talking about the White House. While it wasn’t a Mark Messier-esque guarantee of victory, you showed everyone how to talk to the talk AND walk the walk. Epic.
It didn’t stop there. You’ve continued to publicly address President Trump and have frequently called for something this country has been struggling to have productively for a while now: a conversation.
And while you easily could have publicly smeared President Trump for his response to you (something no one would have blamed you for), you didn’t. You simply and eloquently called for action, doing your part in evoking change while challenging others to do theirs.
Your message is one of inclusion and equality, unity and passion. You give a voice to those who struggle to be heard.
You've shown how to use a platform for good, whether it be in your LGBTQ advocacy or the fight for equal pay for the U.S. men's and women's soccer teams—which, by the way, doesn't seem like a high enough goal. Back-to-back World Cup champs and the top-selling Nike soccer jersey ever! Let's flip-flop the men's and women's salaries and talk about equal pay when the USMNT starts producing results.
More and more athletes are using their voices to address turmoil within this country. And whether it be adversity like LeBron James being told to “shut up and dribble” or Colin Kaepernick being blackballed from the NFL, these athletes are rising above those setbacks. After facing their respective criticisms, James launched his “More Than an Athlete” campaign and later opened up a school, while Colin Kapernick partnered with Nike to debut its “It’s only crazy until you do it” mantra.
And now, you. Ignoring all criticism en route to six World Cup goals, while simultaneously driving an idea that incorporates all.
We’ll always cherish watching you play the game. We’ll envision those short post corners placed perfectly on the head of Julie Johnston/Ertz. We’ll picture you dominating up front alongside Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath. And we’ll never forget the endless number of clutch penalty kicks you calmly buried into the corner.
But more importantly, we’ll think about your courage and audacity. We’ll think of your drive to change the conversation. And we’ll think of all the people you inspired to be themselves.
Thank you for wearing that captain’s band and representing the United States with class and dignity.
Thank you for showing us how to be unapologetically American.
Most of all, thank you for being you.
(Unrelated, but thanks for being a part of the most badass sports couple in history with Sue Bird.)