In 2016, when most athletes and team executives were running away from former San Francisco Giants quarterback Colin Kaepernick as fast as their mouths and legs could carry them, American women's soccer superstar Megan Rapinoe took a knee during the national anthem before a game.
In support of Kaepernick, Rapinoe said, “Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties.”
Months ago, when asked if she would visit the White House of the U.S. team wins the women's World Cup, she got right to the point. The comments were recently republished
“I’m not going to the f------ White House,” the 33-year-old co-captain told EightByEight magazine.
“No f------ way will we be invited to the White House,” she said. “[The President] tries to avoid inviting a team that might decline. Or, like he did when the [Golden State] Warriors turned him down, he’ll claim they hadn’t been invited in the first place.”
In today's America, that means you're un-American with in millions of people's eyes. It starts at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The president took to Twitter to accuse her of disrespecting the flag, the nation – and most importantly – him.
“I stand by the comments I made about not wanting to go to the White House, with the exception of the expletive. My mom will be very upset about that,” Rapinoe said in a news conference before a 2-0 quarterfinal win over host France.
“But I think obviously (I was) answering with a lot of passion, considering how much time and effort and pride we take in the platform that we have and using it for good, and for leaving the game in a better place and hopefully the world in a better place. I don’t think that I would want to go, and I would encourage my teammates to think hard about lending that platform or having that co-opted by an administration that doesn’t feel the same way and doesn’t fight for the same things that we fight for.”
Heading into Tuesday's semifinal against England, Rapinoe had scored five goals, tying her with teammate Alex Morgan, England's Ellen White and Australia's Sam Kerr for most in the World Cup.
Morgan also said a White House visit is out of the question.
Rapinoe told the world she was gay in 2012 and hasn't missed a beat in her career. She also said something it already knows but refuses to acknowledge.
"You can't win a championship without gays on your team, it's pretty much never been done before, ever," she said. "Science right there."
After Rapinoe knelt during the national anthem in 2016, U.S. Soccer adopted a regulation that players must stand. True to her word, she has abided by that edict. She does not sing or put her hand over heart, which has led to more attacks on her patriotism
Rapinoe will never be known as an American Sweetheart, but she is among the best things the United States can offer – especially on an international stage and with the current occupant of the White House.
The Blues House
Look for the St. Louis Blues to make a White House visit in late March.
The Stanley Cup champions play at Florida on March 21 before traveling to Washington to play the Capitals on March 24. The team's next game is at Los Angeles on Friday, March 27.
I'll go on the record now that I don't care if the entire team goes and has a good time.
Hopefully, they won't be offered fast food and they'll visit the African-American history museum.
For all the talk MLB and Commissioner Robert Manfred do about increasing black participation in baseball on the field and in the stands, the lineups for the All-Star Game on July 9 won’t help accomplish either.
The National League will feature no black starters and no black pitchers. Starters are selected via the fan vote.
Josh Bell, Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman, is the lone African American on the squad after being named as a reserve. He narrowly lost the fan vote to Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman.
American League fans, primarily fans of the Houston Astros, did better. Astros outfielders Michael Brantley and George Springer will man two of the three respective outfield positions. The game’s leading vote-getter, Mike Trout, will start in centerfield.
Trout, for yet another year, turned down an opportunity to participate in the Home Run Derby competition on July 8. Bell said yes to the same invitation.
Mookie Betts, Red Sox outfielder and reigning AL MVP, was named as a reserve.
The AL could have had White Sox shortstop Tim Anderson as a reserve, but he suffered a severe ankle sprain last week and is on the Injured List.
Paul DeJong is the St. Louis Cardinals only player on the NL squad – and every team must be represented.
Miami Marlins pitcher Sandy Alcantara was named to the NL’s pitching squad. The former Cardinals prospect was traded to the Marlins in the deal to acquire Marcel Ozuna.
Speaking of Ozuna, he will miss a large part of the season’s second half after fracturing several bones in the fingers of his left hand while diving back into first base last week in San Diego.
Leader of the band
Chris Grier, Miami Dolphins general manager, made it clear last week that first-year head coach Brian Flores was hired for his leadership skills and not the color of his skin.
“I was looking for the best leader,” Grier said at the two-day NFL coaching summit in Atlanta.
For me, it wasn’t a matter of offense or defense,” Grier said. “It was a matter of finding the right guy that we felt was going to be a leader of men, that was going to interact with this generation.
“This generation is different. When I grew up, I couldn’t talk back to my mom and dad. These kids, you see it out on the field, they’re talking back to coaches. It’s a different world. It’s a hard job, coaching these kids.”
While many owners and GMs have said similar things about newly-hired black coaches in all sports, Grier’s comments are notable because he too is black – a rarity in the NFL and Major League Baseball.
Flores is a defensive mastermind that made all defensive play calls for the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots. Ironically, the aim of the coaching summit was to “bolster the pipeline of minority offensive coaches to be better positioned for head-coaching jobs.”
Grier said after Flores’ hire that he would be given adequate time to change the culture of the Dolphins who last won a playoff game in the year 2000.
The Arizona Cardinals fired black head coach Steve Wilks after one season. Unproven supposed offensive genius Kliff Kingsbury replaced his. Vance Joseph only got two years before John Elway fired him and hired Vin Fangio.
The Reid roundup
The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs will play in London next summer, and hopefully, the games will resemble baseball. The two-game series featuring the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox last weekend was just plain silly. Fifty runs combined, the games totaling more than nine hours, reportedly no buzz in the streets and very few folks from England in the stands.
Five-time Wimbledon women singles champion Venus Williams, now in her third decade on the pro circuit, will take on 15-year-old qualifier Cori Gauff in the tournament’s opening round.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill reportedly met with NFL security and administrative personnel for more than eight hours last week. Look for him to be suspended several games.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was scheduled to meet with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday to discuss his dust-up with a security guard in Las Vegas in May. The episode was captured on video and began with Elliott arguing with a woman, presumably his girlfriend and ended with him in handcuffs. I think he will be suspended in the season opener at home against the New York Giants.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano is the latest to speculate that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott might not receive a long-term contract offer from the team. His off-field behavior is one concern, the wear-and-tear on his body as a workhouse back is another. Elliott is listed by several publications and pundits as the best pick at No. 1 in your fantasy football league.
Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is @aareid1.