Megan Rapinoe is the baddest athlete on the planet. When will mansplaining fools figure out it’s a bad idea to mess with her?
Golden State Warriors star Draymond Green can talk some Grade A trash. But tempting a war of words with Rapinoe is a no-win situation, as Donald Trump discovered when he tried to shame the soccer star for supposedly disrespecting America while wearing a red, white and blue uniform at the World Cup in 2019.
In words that smelled like condescension, Green recently declared female professional athletes need to stop complaining about pay inequity with their male counterparts and take meaningful action.
Green enjoys the NBA life, being paid an annual salary of $22.47 million by the Warriors. I’m no math wizard, but by my calculation, Green reaps 100 times the fiscal rewards that Rapinoe earns as the face in American soccer, as a winger for the national team and captain of the OL Reign.
Are there market forces at play in the huge pay discrepancy between the sidekick to Steph Curry and the charismatic leader of the most dominant soccer team in the world? Of course. But for Green to lecture female athletes about learning how to wrestle in the corporate world by focusing on how to tell their stories more effectively, it not only sounds tone deaf, but like a guy who turns the channel whenever he stumbles across a USWNT game on television.
“You don’t think we’ve asked for more funding? What are we screaming about nonstop? We’re getting obnoxious to ourselves, to be honest,” Rapinoe said Wednesday, during a video news conference for the U.S. women’s national team.
And then she took dead aim at Green’s ignorance on the topic.
“You kind of showed your whole ass in not even understanding what we all talk about all the time,” said Rapinoe, disappointed that as a Black man, Green didn’t seem to grasp how difficult the fight can be for the oppressed in American society.
“All social movements and all the people who are marginalized by race or gender or sexuality or whatever it is, it is not just their job to be the ones fighting oppression. We need all the other people, as well. To have someone who is oppressed in so many ways, to heap that all back on female players or people who play female sports … That was really disappointing from someone who has such a big platform, as we know that’s not acceptable at all.”
Green is among the most intimidating defenders in the NBA. Standing 6 feet, 6 inches tall in his sneakers, he towers a full foot above Rapinoe in her soccer boots.
But Rapinoe just posterized Green. Her slam of his ignorance should be No. 1 in ESPN’s top 10 plays of the day.
Green and Rapinoe, however, can find common ground in a shared belief that the lack of corporate investment and media attention to the excellence of U.S. female athletes keeps them in the shadows. And maybe that’s why it’s important this argument between Rapinoe and Green is heard.
“When we talk about equality in women’s sports, we always talk first about investment and funding and resources and marketing and branding. And investing in not just the players, but the support staff and coaching and TV media, print media, all of it,” Rapinoe said.
“We understand that if all of those things are done, then yes, we will most likely be requiring a much higher salary than we’re at.”
The Olympics matter because it’s the one arena where the success stories of female athletes can grab the attention of American sports fans otherwise obsessed with the feats of Tom Brady, LeBron James and Mike Trout.
Rapinoe will celebrate her 36th birthday in July, before the Summer Games in Tokyo begin. This is her last, best chance to roar on the international stage.
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