Omari Newton: The complete list of people who can STFU about Megan Rapinoe & the USWNT
Like most men, I almost never watch women’s sports – at least, not until recently.
There are several reasons for this but at the end of the day it just boils down to patriarchy and internalized misogyny.
From a young age men, are taught that women’s sports are less interesting, less competitive, and unworthy of our time. It’s a shame we have been conditioned to feel this way, because from Serena Williams to Simone Biles, some of the most dominant, dynamic athletes on earth are women.
Last weekend I posted about one such athlete on my personal Facebook page: USA women’s soccer star and international badass Megan Rapinoe. I was impressed by her dominance on the pitch, and her willingness to use her platform to speak truth to power. It’s always heartening to see high profile athletes engage in intersectional forms of activism.
Anybody who follows me on social media, or reads my columns here regularly, knows that I regular muse about social justice causes, representation and other issues that affect marginalized communities. What was most uncommon is how this particular post very quickly went viral.
In a few short days, the piece had been shared more than 82,000 times on Facebook, and liked or loved upwards of 200,000 times. Having a piece you wrote resonate with a wide audience is of course the hope of any writer. My followers grew exponentially over night, and my inbox has been flooded with new friend requests. It’s been a surreal, gratifying experience for this long time leftist internet ranter.
Most of this new found attention has been positive. Like-minded progressives, women, and members of the LGBTQ community have reached out in droves.
However, because of the nature of the internet, the piece has caught the eye of a fair share of MAGA-minded trolls who have descended on my Facebook page like a pack of overly sensitive social media wolves, howling their disapproval of me, Rapinoe, “SJWs,” and progressives in general.
One of their main beefs with my post, was the fact that Rapinoe and her USWNT teammates were too cocky, arrogant and classless to be supported, and their excessive celebrating after a blowout victory against Thailand was commonly cited evidence of this.
Now, I have no problem with people disagreeing with me. This happens with great regularity when you talk about polarizing issues publicly. I do however have a problem with overt hypocrisy, straw man fallacies, intellectual gaslighting, and constantly shifting goal posts.
Because I, like many exhausted progressives, lack the time, energy, or desire to rebut or even engage all of the disgruntled mob who creep the internet ready to pounce on loudmouth liberals, I thought I would provide an article that covers all bases defending the greatness of Rapinoe and the 2019 women’s world champion USWNT in one place.
Without further ado, here is:
The complete list of people who can STFU about Megan Rapinoe and the 2019 world champion USWNT:
MEN: Being a woman is tough. If you are in denial of the fact that we live in a patriarchal society that shits on women 24/7 despite endless data to prove this reality, my article isn’t going to convince you otherwise. Being a female athlete is also predictably difficult. Despite training as long and as hard as male athletes, female athletes struggle to attract the same public interest as their male counterparts. As a result, most top level female athletes are paid considerably less than men, as comparatively lower TV ratings mean less sponsorship money and commercial revenue for their pro leagues. Top female athletes must have a competitive fire that burns exceedingly deep to put in the unimaginable work required to compete at top levels. There are only a few women’s sporting events that offer the possibility to draw the eyes of the general public, and they are usually international affairs like the World Cup. The main reason so many people are talking about the USWNT and the women’s world cup in North America is the controversy surrounding their “unsportsmanlike” antics, paired with their absolute dominance. So, unless you are a woman who has had to work twice as hard for less recognition, less pay, and less respect, please consider STFU about Megan Rapinoe and the 2019 world champion USWNT.
STRAIGHT PEOPLE: Remember that group of embarrassingly insecure men who wanted to start a Straight Pride Parade in Boston? Remember how most of the public understandably laughed at the absurdity of the idea, because straight people have never been meant to feel shame simply for the people we are physically attracted to? Pride parades exist as a jubilant celebration of FINALLY being able to live openly and freely in the world, without fear of persecution, mockery or scorn. Pride parades are often hypersexual spectacles where rainbows are omnipresent, and clothing is optional. As an outsider, and with the removal of context, Pride parades may seem like “too much” to more conservative onlookers. But if you understand the totality of the struggle it took to get us to the point where these parades can be annual celebrations embraced by the mainstream, you may just want to toss some beads and assless chaps on and shake your stuff like a polaroid picture along side LGBTQ revellers. Similarly, if you truly understand all the obstacles a queer, “butch” presenting, female athlete like Rapinoe had to overcome to get to the damn World Cup, you might give her and her teammates a pass on celebrating every goal scored like a drunk, newly out kid at their first ever Pride parade. Their sustained excellence is a miraculous achievement accomplished in the face of unfathomable barriers. Go crazy, ladies. Celebrate those goals, and if you are a straight person watching them, you may want to remember the incredible road they took to get here and STFU about Megan Rapinoe and the 2019 world champion USWNT.
FANS OF THE NBA: One of the main criticisms I hear from men about Rapinoe and her teammates is that they are cocky and therefore classless. Men in general seem to have forgotten that 99% of our vaunted sports icons have sociopathic levels of competitiveness that cause them to constantly act in brash, bulling, arrogant ways. Take NBA icon Michael Jordan for example. Jordan was legendary for his insanely poor sportsmanship. He once punched former teammate and current head coach of the Golden State warriors Steve Kerr in the face in practice, giving him a black eye. In a 1995 playoff game, he barked “Shoot it you f$%ing midget,” at 5’3” Charlotte Hornets point guard Muggsy Bogues. Bogues later admitted that the moment ruined his career. And rather than show gratitude and humility during his Hall of Fame induction speech, Jordan called out nearly everyone who ever wronged him in his career, including the high school coach that didn’t put him on the varsity team, and the player who made the team over him. Jordan is to this day one of the poster children for the NBA. He is but one of countless examples of great players who are poor sports. If you are a fan of the NBA, please STFU about Megan Rapinoe and the 2019 world champion USWNT.
FANS OF THE NFL: Aside from the NFL’s almost super human ability to be on the wrong side of nearly every political and social justice issue, from domestic abuse, to raising awareness about police brutality, the toxic culture of hyper machismo in the National Football League has turned many of the league’s biggest stars into astoundingly poor sports. NFL golden boy Tom Brady is notorious for yelling at teammates and he and his team have been at the centre of numerous accusations of cheating or bending the rules. The Pats have also been known to run up the score on inferior teams. In 2007, when Brady and the Patriots were re-writing record books with a near unstoppable offense, the team showed little mercy for opponents, at times going for it on 4th down when they were up by a massive number of points late in games. Many fans and pundits celebrated their ability and willingness to dominate opponents, and this reputation for ruthlessness has helped cement Brady and the Pats as the gold standard for building a modern sports dynasty. If you are one of the many fans cheering on Brady and The Pats, or any other ruthless NFL star or team, please STFU about Megan Rapinoe and the 2019 world champion USWNT.
PROFESSIONAL FIGHTING FANS: Fans of boxing and MMA are well aware that some of their sports’ biggest stars can best be described as arrogant, merciless blowhards. I love the late great Muhammad Ali for his skill and the way he laid the ground work for athletes like Rapinoe, using his platform to speak truth to power, but humility and compassion towards his often overmatched opponents were not exactly hallmarks of his legacy. He once told Sonny Liston he was “too ugly to be champion,” and told Floyd Patterson he would “beat him so bad he would need a shoehorn to put his hat on.” We don’t even need to mention Roy Jones Junior who would taunt opponents by dancing around the ring and putting his hand behind his back before knocking them out, or Floyd Mayweather who is walking billboard for spoiled, arrogant professionals. We also needn’t mention MMA Super Star Connor McGregor who’s entire persona is quite literally based on being a cocky, abusive bully. If you have ever rooted for any of the above athletes, I ask you to kindly to consider STFU about Megan Rapinoe and the 2019 world champion USWNT.
FANS OF THE CURRENT POTUS: If you are mad at Rapinoe and the USWNT for being arrogant, cocky, bullying, poor sports, and you voted for 45 in the 2016 US federal election… (Do I need to say it? I don’t think I need to say it).
Thanks to Golden Boot winner Megan Rapinoe and the 2019 world champion USWNT, I am writing this article as a converted long time male sports fan who woke up early on a Sunday, excited to watch women’s sports. I’m sure they’ve converted many other male fans like me. This in and of itself is an amazing accomplishment. If you have not been converted, that’s fine, but please consider STFU about Megan Rapinoe and the 2019 world champion USWNT. They’ve overcome enough without having to listen to the hypocritical gripes of dudes who mostly never gave a damn about women’s sports in the first place.
Editor’s note: Omari Newton is a creative force who has made a mark in multiple cities across Canada: in Montreal, where at 19 years old he won accolades for his performance in Athol Fugard’s ‘My Children! My Africa!’ with Black Theatre Workshop, Canada’s oldest Black theatre company; in Ottawa, where his play ‘Sal Capone’ will run in the second half of the National Arts Centre’s 2017-2018 season; and in Vancouver, where he’s straddled the screen and theatre worlds as an in-demand actor (‘Continuum’), producer (‘The Shipment’), playwright (‘Sal Capone’), and teacher. Omari won a 2018 Jessie Award for his performance in ‘The Shipment.’ Social justice issues are important to Omari – he writes about them on his Facebook page, Visible Minority Report – and are central to his work in the arts. Omari writes about social justice issues – and how they intersect with the entertainment industry – for YVR Screen Scene. Omari directed a production of David Harrower’s ‘Blackbird’ that ran at the 2018 Vancouver Fringe Festival.
Top image: FRANCK FIFE. Read about the famous photo in People Magazine