U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe doesn’t put her hand over her heart during the national anthem, as fans watching the 2019 Women’s World Cup may have noticed. She also doesn’t sing, or mouth the words to, the national anthem, and she says she will probably never do so again.
As The Washington Examiner reports, fans who watched the U.S.A. vs. Thailand on Tuesday may have noticed that, during the traditional pre-game ceremony when the national anthems of both countries are played, Megan’s teammates kept their hands over their hearts and sang the song — or at the very least, mouthed the words. Megan, her face set in a steely gaze, did neither.
In fact, she hasn’t done either of those things since 2016, as OutSports notes. That was the year that then-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first famously “took a knee” during the national anthem, an act that he said was intended to draw attention to police brutality. The act of protest spread to other sports and made it as far as women’s soccer. Before an exhibition match between the U.S. women and The Netherlands in 2016, Megan took a page from Colin Kaepernick’s book and knelt during the national anthem.
After her initial protest, the U.S. Soccer Federation issued a statement that all athletes were expected to “respect the flag” during the national anthem. That statement was later codified into a rule that all participants must stand, a rule which Megan said at the time that she would obey.
That’s not to say that Meghan has been doing the rest of the actions that accompany the playing of the national anthem, such as placing her hand over her heart or singing the words. She hasn’t done that since 2016, and she didn’t on Tuesday.
And she probably never will again, she tells Yahoo Sports.
“I’ll probably never put my hand over my heart. I’ll probably never sing the national anthem again,” she said.
In an earlier interview, Megan admitted that the original issue that motivated Colin Kaepernick to take a knee — police brutality — is not one that she’s experienced. But she says that one doesn’t have to experience something personally to express solidarity with others who do.
“Knowing that it obviously happens, and knowing that it’s a very real thing, and that there’s something I can do to lend to that movement, or lend to those voices, or to support them, that’s important,” she said.