Friday, June 24th, 2022 will be a monumental day in history books. In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the Roe v. Wade decision from 1973. Roe famously protected a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion at a federal level. If you didn’t notice, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in his ruling that the Supreme Court should also reconsider Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell, the three rulings that protect contraception, same-sex relationships, and same-sex marriage. That portion, just a pair of lines in Justice Thomas’s ruling, could have gone unnoticed. Megan Rapinoe noticed. 

Rapinoe is one of America’s most famous athletes for a number of reasons. She was the face (and hair) of the 2015 and 2019 World Cup Champion US Women’s National soccer team. Rapinoe won the 2019 Balon d’Or, marking her as the best soccer player in the world. She led the USWNT in their legal victory for equal pay. While representing her country, Rapinoe took a knee in solidarity with San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Her fiance, Sue Bird, has dominated the WNBA and FIBA Basketball for 20 years and announced her impending retirement earlier this month. Rapinoe has been on The Daily Show and SI: Swimsuit. Her autobiography? A New York Times Bestseller. Her entire life has been hard not to notice. 

Friday, she took to a post-practice press conference. Generally, post-practice press conferences in the lead up to friendlies aren’t noteworthy. But Rapinoe wanted us to notice. 

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“Pro-choice means that we all get to decide what’s best for us… Pro-life does not allow anything except one strict religious view… It’s a really sad day,” Rapinoe said. “It’s a really hard thing to deal with, for all of us. I just can’t understate how sad and how cruel this is… I think the cruelty is the point, because this is not pro-life by any means.”

Cruelty. The point. She noticed it. 

Further, Rapinoe noticed when people tried to change their involvement. Amidst the chaos of Friday, Rapinoe noticed, on Twitter. 

We see the sports world take on the non-sports world frequently, as recently as the NBA Playoffs when NBA Champion Steve Kerr called politicians to action. It makes the separation of sport and life nonexistent. Sports are simultaneously escapism and activism. Sports pull world issues and put them somewhere that you have to notice them. 

Athletes seek a world beyond excellent. None of the “greatest of all time” ever settled for “good enough.” To be that caliber of an athlete, or to be that caliber of anything, you have to have attention to detail. You have to notice everything. Naturally, as with Rapinoe, elite athletes expect the same from everyone. Especially elected officials. As Rapinoe took to Twitter to point out, people did vote. 

Rapinoe notices who is silent and who is active. Further, she notices that voting hasn’t been enough.101 Million Americans voted in 2000, but the candidate with fewer votes won.  128 Million Americans voted in 2016, but the candidate with fewer votes won. In 2020, 156 Million people voted, and the person with the most votes won. Voting happened. As the country enters the world Justice Thomas dares to create, what happens next? As Rapinoe tweeter, “we DID VOTE.” What happens next? Everyone is noticing. 

Rapinoe was designated as a captain of the USWNT from 2018-2020. Aside from winning, she was the lead representative of the United States at the highest level soccer allows. Rapinoe was chosen to represent the USA because of her impact on the pitch, and she continues to do so even in her reduced role as she passes the baton to the next generation of American women’s soccer. 

One day, as Rapinoe alludes to, it would be nice to see non-athletes represent America as well as the athletes do. 

Rapinoe is not the only one, either. Dozens of NBA, NFL, and MLB allies spoke out on Twitter as well. WNBA stars, NWSL leaders, and other prominent female athletes spoke of the pain Friday instilled. Major companies, including Dick’s Sporting Goods, have stated publicly they will allow and assist their employees and their families seek out healthcare where they can. Clubs issued their brief, but solemn, commentary in the wake of the news Friday morning. Entire sporting leagues condemned the direction America turned on Friday. It was hard not to notice. 

We don’t choose the athletes that represent us, they earn it by working on their craft. But somehow, they seem to represent the people more than the representatives we do choose. Many polls have over 60-percent of Americans supporting Roe, and some polls indicate it’s over 70-percent.  But the Supreme Court, which has five justices chosen by Presidents who lost the popular vote, did not. 

Rapinoe and her USWNT teammates have friendlies this week against Colombia in Denver and Salt Lake City, where they will surely continue to represent America and push for the rights of Americans. Whether in their play, their actions, or their press conferences, the USWNT will certainly do something noticeable. Let’s hope representatives notice, too. 

Be sure to notice everything

About Author

Parker Ainsworth

Senior NBA Writer, Co-Host of "F" In Sports and The Midweek Midrange. Parker is a hoops head, "retired" football player, and sneaker aficionado. Austinite born in Houston, located in Dallas after a brief stint in LA... Parker is a well-traveled Texan, teacher, and coach. Feel free to contact Parker- https://linktr.ee/PAinsworth512

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