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"Fucking Unbelievable": Megan Rapinoe on Washington Spirit Owner Playing Anthem While Players Still in Locker Room

Washington Spirit owner Bill Lynch accused Megan Rapinoe of hijacking the national anthem and announced that he was hijacking it back.

by Leander Schaerlaeckens
Sep 8 2016, 4:49pm

Megan Rapinoe wanted to protest.

And the Washington Spirit protested her protest.

The United States women's national team star took a knee during the national anthem before the last game her Seattle Reign played against the Chicago Red Stars on Sunday. On Wednesday, she had planned to do the same thing, and to continue doing so indefinitely in support of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his stand against the oppression of minorities in America.

The Spirit, however, didn't want to be party to Rapinoe protesting. So it played the national anthem before the teams had even left the locker room. Then it put out an incongruous statement following a weird logic that both respects the right to protest and calls it a hijacking and a personal cause, when its whole point is to seek betterment for the entire nation.

Among other things, the statement declared the Spirit a "veteran-owned team" for which "the national anthem holds an exceptionally special meaning," and called Rapinoe's protest "insulting [to] our military and our fans," thereby buying into the baseless notion that the national anthem somehow equates to the troops and our obligatory and undying support for them.

"Our owner Bill Lynch has lost personal friends during overseas conflicts and has other close friends who have also lost loved ones," the statement read, as if that had anything to do with Rapinoe protesting police brutality. "Playing the national anthem prior to sports events became standard during World War II and was a way to express the team's [sic] and fan's [sic] patriotism and show support for the U.S. Military. The tradition of honoring our military and our patriotism before our games is very important to us."

Rapinoe, who is deliciously outspoken about this sort of thing, had a predictable response. "It's fucking unbelievable," she said after the game. "Saddened by it. It's pretty clear what the message is I am trying to bring to light in Chicago and what I continue to try to talk about the last few days. Clearly with [Spirit owner Bill Lynch's] actions, it's a necessary conversation. It was incredibly distasteful, four days before one of the worst tragedies in our country, to say that I tried to hijack this event."

Yes, that's Rapinoe invoking 9/11, which probably isn't helpful to her cause.

But her other points were well taken. "We want to talk about disrespect, and me disrespecting, he didn't even give both teams a chance to even stand in front of it and show their respects," she said. "It's unbelievable. It's truly an unbelievable act to me."

Rapinoe, who said she believed her teammates would support her during the anthem, added that "overall, the response has been good."

"Obviously there is some negative going on, but I am not rolling through the trolls," she said. "Keep it positive."

All of this, nevertheless, has been taxing on her. "To say I am not mentally tired in ways and exhausted in ways would be a lie," she said. "It's been draining. It's been draining on everyone. I am aware it's not just me going through this; it's my whole team, my whole club, my whole family, and the other players in the league as well. I know it's created a stir, but sometimes that's necessary."

The Reign's next home game is against the Spirit in Seattle on 9/11. Rapinoe plans to resume her protest. The club will also hold a pre-game ceremony with five veterans who will be told of Rapinoe's actions and with whom she hopes to meet ahead of time. "Giving them the utmost respect is paramount for me and for the club," Rapinoe said.

Because a protest against the state of our nation by sitting out the national anthem is not a protest against our military.

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